Sorry for the unintended hiatus. As I noted, I have been having some health problems, which have not been helped by having had some adverse reactions to some new drugs my docs seem to think I need to take — not very nice side effects which necessitated changing things around. That took about two weeks to get sorted out, and things were smoothing out and settling down. Then out of the blue, I had a violently allergic reaction to something. I ended up in the ER with hives and ITCHING from one end of me to the other. Not fun. I was taking several new meds and we didn’t know which might be the culprit that caused the reaction. I had to stop taking everything except two meds I’ve been taking for years that I was in the middle of bottles of, so I knew they were unchanged, and one I couldn’t stop taking. I had to wait about a week to make sure that one new one was OK, which it was. Then, one at a time, I added each new one back in until I identified the culprit. Turned out it wasn’t one of the new meds after all. The manufacturer of a supplement I’ve been taking for years decided to change the type of capsule they put it in to some kind of “vegetable capsule” to which I was wildly allergic. Thankfully, I was able to find another manufacturer that put theirs in gelatin capsules, as it’s a supplement that makes my life a lot easier when I take it.
And then there was the matter of getting my car fixed. It did take right at two weeks and the guy’s insurance had to pony up over $4000, but Big Daddy got’er done. I got a rental “loaner” to drive while it was being fixed, a little 2018 Chevy miniSUV, but it was one of those “keyless” ones. So long as you have the little remote thingie in your purse or pocket, you can unlock the car by just opening the door and start the car by just pushing a button. But I’ve got the Greyola back now, all fixed up, and my ride is back to normal again. I missed it.
Not much to report in the knitting news, I’m afraid. I’ve been batting around so much dealing with one issue and another that I haven’t had much peace and quiet to sit down and enjoy a good knit except when I’ve been at the computer. I’ve got probably another 15-20 rows on the body of my (slightly modified) cable edged shawl (above) before I get it to the point where I’m ready to start the cable edging. As for the other one, I simply haven’t had the concentration it takes to work on it. Thank goodness I’ve had the discipline to put in my lifelines after every pattern repeat, as I had to frog out a repeat and a half the last time I tried to work on it.
There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr Regency murder mystery out by C. S. Harris (#13 in the series), and I’m reading up onto it from #7 to refresh my memory. (Each of the books is stand alone, so you can start with any book in the series, but the reading experience is greatly enhanced by reading them in the (chronological) order in which they were written.) The books are well written and meticulously researched, and the characters are very three-dimensional and engaging. One of the things I like about the books is that Harris sets her works, not in the romanticized glittering Regency of the romance novel, or the sequestered, self-contained world of Jane Austen, but in the gritty historical reality that was the Regency period in England (1811–1820) — warts and all — the crime, the poverty, the inequities of the class system and the legal system, and the aristocratic attitudes and privileges that reinforce the status quo.
Another of the things I like about her books is that she sets them within their historical context, both in Europe and America. Leading up to the period in which the novels are set was the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the loss of the American colonies, as well as the social upheavals of the French Revolution, which began in 1789, and the subsequent influx of French refuges into Britain fleeing the Reign of Terror. During the time the books take place, Britain is fighting Napoleon on the continent (1803-1815). In the first book, the hero, Sebastian St. Cyr, formerly a captain in the Duke of Wellington‘s army fighting against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal, has sold his commission and returned to England. In one of the books, a plot point involves the British practice of stopping American merchant ships at sea and impressing American sailors off them into the British navy, one of the causes of the War of 1812, and we briefly meet Franklin, fils. Another mentions a popular new novel called Pride and Prejudice, by the (at that time unknown) author of Sense and Sensibility, and a certain black cat finally acquires a name. Another involves a 3-year-old boy who will grow up to write a poem called “The Lady of Shalott.” At the end of each book is an Author’s Note, in which Harris, who has a Ph.D. in 18th and 19th century European history, tells you what is actual history and what she changed, added, or manipulated to serve her plot — which is usually very little. She also provides sources where you can read more about the particular issues or events featured in the plot. Though the man character is a man, one of the historical themes that weaves through all her books is the issue of women’s status and women’s rights in Regency England and the roles society demanded that women play. These themes are highlighted not only in plot points and the characters they involve, but are “made flesh” in one of my favorite characters in the books, a certain grey-eyed young lady named Hero.
You can read the Sebastian St. Cyr books on several levels. They are entertaining and well-plotted, with engaging, well-rounded characters, a “good read.” But there’s plenty of meat on the bone — historical, sociological, psychological — to give you something of substance to chew on afterward, and maybe explore further. Enough meat that they hold up to rereading very well. And, yes, what Sebastian has (Bithil syndrome) is a for-real (though quite rare) genetic mutation.