Author: Joni Scott

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, Time Heal my Heart, The last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. She has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.
All about Sisters

All about Sisters

Recently, I have posted about the Romanov sisters. This proved to be a very popular post so I thought to expand on the subject of sisters. The Romanov sisters were also royalty and suffered a terrible fate because of their status. Read about these beautiful young grand duchesses in my recent posts on the Russian royal family and these tragic sisters. They seemed to get along well but Anastasia the youngest may have been a bit of a brat. She was the naughtiest of the mostly very well behaved and family orientated sisters.

Rivalry between writing sisters

The arts abounds with famous sisters. The Bronte sisters, Anne, Charlotte and Emily shared a love of writing. maybe they shared a sense of rivalry as to who could write the best story? I know it was Agatha Christie’s big sister madge who challenged Agatha to write a crime novel. She did well, didn’t she. Writing over 80 novels and stories as well as plays, Agatha Christie became the most read and published novelist of all time.

I love the fictional sisters of Little Women and how they mostly got along just fine for four sisters with different temperaments. There are hints at jealousy and competitiveness but nothing too savage happens. maybe because it is fiction. But not all sisters have happy relationships. No one can be more annoying than a little sister trying to take the limelight or steal your boyfriend. Jealousy is a big issue that often ignites a lifetime of rivalry.

Movie Star rival sisters

In the case of movie star sisters, Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland, the enmity was fierce. They competed at star level and never softened their fierce jealousy of each other.

The Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley made their acting debut while babies. They share an even more special sister bond, that of twins. Venus and Serena Williams are sisters at a unique competitive level, that of gold medals. They mostly leave their rivalry on the courts. Then there’s the Kardashian sisters competing for the best curves.

Have you heard of Zsa Zsa  and Eva Gabor? They were two sisters out of a trio of Hungarian born sisters. Magda is lesser known though she married actor, George Sanders, her little sister’s cast-off husband. Zsa Zsa, the middle sister competed with Eva for men, money and beauty. Though the sisters married multiple times, Zsa Zsa was the only one to have a child. The Gabor sister act was an act to follow in the 1940’s and 50’s. They were always in the news, a bit like the Kardashians of today.

In the 1930s, The Andrews Sisters, Patty, Maxene and Laverne were another sister trio, a singing group famous for ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and other swing hits during WWII. They rated as the best-selling of all female vocal groups. Despite singing beautifully together and selling 75 million records, they started a fight in 1937 though they stayed as an act until 1967 when Laverne died.

Birth order and rivalry of sisters

Birth order does seem to have an effect on how sisters get along. The order of birth also is said to determine the personality of a child. First born children are usually more sensible, calm and conservative compared to their younger sisters. This is because their parents often spend more time on the discipline side of parenting. Later children meet laxer parenting as the parents run out of puff with a larger brood to control. Little sisters often get to do things their older sisters could not at the same age. this explains the claim that little sisters are spoilt.

As a a younger sister, I can see this. My sister claims I was spoilt and she had a tougher time. However, I have always looked up to my big sister and listened to her advice. I even wrote her into my first book as a character! Whispers Through Time also tells the story of two sisters, my grandmother and great aunt who emigrated to Australia in 1912. They had a special bond through life though their lives took different directions. One married an itinerant worker and the other a rich doctor, but they stayed connected through their shared ordeals during World War One and Two.

In the third book in this series, Last Time Forever, a sense of rivalry that must always have been there, rises to the fore. The sisters have a falling out later in life. Watch out for this last book in the sister trilogy. It’s at the publishers now. But meanwhile if you like stories of sisters and historical fiction, read the others, Whispers through Time and Time, heal my Heart. 

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through TimeThe Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

Fashionable Discomfit

Fashionable Discomfit

 

For many centuries women lived in a state of fashionable discomfit. Restricted physically as well as socially, women wore strangling whalebone corsets (see bunnycorset.com.)

The feminine corset became popular for women in the French court of the 1500s but originated in Italy. Catherine de Medici is credited as the designer. The idea was to fine tune a woman’s attractiveness by making her waist as small as possible and flatten her stomach.

These undergarments choked their waists into tiny unnatural measurements to achieve the desired hourglass figure and fashionable discomfit.

For centuries, a woman walked in beauty but also in pain, just like the Japanese women who for centuries had bound feet so they would look dainty. Never mind that walking was torture. Hence the shuffled gait of traditional Japanese women. Victorian corsets were the Western equivalent of this Eastern fashionable discomfit.

The corset evolves

From the 16th century to the 19th, the corset became firmer in its vice like grip on the female form. Whale bones hardened the original firm fabric sleeve encasing the midriff. Corsets forced ribs down and compressed stomachs. Another word for a corset became ‘stays’ as the middle of a woman’s body was not allowed to move.

Gradually by Edwardian times, the corset became more of a support for the bust and was a shorter version of its predecessors. By then steel as well as whalebone provided the support of the corset fabric.

Layers of Fashionable Discomfit

In the Edwardian years of the early 1900s, a British woman needed time to dress. She had to plan the event and needed a maid to help. First there were layers of undergarments, a petticoat, chemise, and drawers or pantaloons.

Then the dreaded corset that would cinch her middle in its whalebone vice-like grip. Countless whales gave their lives so women worldwide could achieve a 55 cm or 21-inch waist measurement. The corset did not just clamp a woman’s middle section as it was laced but propelled the bust forward to balance the bunched bustle of the dress over the buttocks.

This bustle padded out the derriere to a shapely but large bump, something akin to the present Kardashian penchant for a large bottom.

The health effect of corsets

Long-term wearing of a corset deformed the ribs and misaligned the spine. All in order to have a more ‘civilized form’. The constriction also led women to have breathing issues, causing a woman to feel faint or swoon. Certainly, she could not overexert herself while wearing one as the ribs could not move to inflate her lungs for a deep breath. Such enforced shallow breathing can affect all organs and their supply of oxygen. An imprint of the corset could be found on the liver and kidneys on autopsy of females of that time period.

One woman jokingly wrote, “It is important to note, that pregnancy has a similar effect on displacing a woman’s internal organs.” Women loosened their corset during later pregnancy but this apart from sleeping was the only time in a fashionable woman’s lifetime. Even when corsetry went out of fashion during the Roaring Twenties or Jazz Age, most older women retained them as an essential undergarment.

But that was not the end of the fashionable discomfit. There’s more to come.

Garters and Hatpins Complete Fashionable Discomfit

Elastic garters burnt into a woman’s thigh to keep stockings in place. Tight high-heeled boots, often laced, encased her feet making walking painful. Just to add to the long process of dressing. Then ladies added a large wide-brimmed hat with lots of fluffy feathers, flowers or artificial fruit and a deadly hat pin to keep the decorations or accompanying veil and scarf in place.

Now, hat pins were dangerous, a hazard to passing pedestrians. Often people in crowds scored a hatpin when least expecting an aerial attack. A device called an acorn became fashionable to have on the end of the point of the pin to protect other people.

For fashionable ladies, readymade clothes were not available to buy in the shops. Most women ordered their outfits from dressmakers who required 18 personal body measurements, plus height and weight to fashion an outfit.

Handbags and Hankies

And what about handbags you might ask? Where did a woman keep her small change and hanky? Apparently, men kept coins in their watches which popped open at the back and women wore a muff chain that fastened around their neck. This chain extended through a furry sleeve or glove, called a muff into which the wearer could insert both hands. Inside was a small pocket where such items as coins and hankies could lodge. Mystery solved.

But I just have to share this fascinating snippet about the origins of the hanky or handkerchief. Bobby Pin Blog at Vintage Hairstyling.com cites Marie Antoinette as the inventor of the lady’s hanky. Marie, an Austrian princess was so upset on the long trip from her homeland to France to marry Louis XVI, that she tore a strip of lacy petticoat to dab her tears. And oh, poor Marie how, years later, did she stem her tears as she climbed the scaffold of the guillotine in 1793, as a victim of the French Revolution?

However, the vintage style blogger though, as rapt as me in this story, does admit that upon further research the hanky dates to Roman times when it was a multi-functional piece of rag to dab not just tears but sweat and well, whatever. Say no more. But apparently Marie’s royal husband decreed that hankies should be square, as wide as they are long, probably the most useful shape. Can’t imagine round or triangular ones.

Liberation from fashionable discomfit

The change in women’s corsetry reflects the changing status of women in society, so fashion is a part of our history. During WWI metal was in short supply. The steel casing of corsets was part of the drive for metal meltdown to make much needed weapons. The corset of the post WWI era evolved again to cater for the straight form fashion of the Jazz Age flappers. Suddenly a small waist was not desirable, nor a shapely bosom. However, corsets were stiff still to flatten a woman’s natural curves. Then due to women’s involvement in the workforce and fighting of WWII, such garments became less and less a staple of women’s undergarment fashion. Eventually, the corset evolved into the brassiere and a woman’s waist was finally freed.

But according to bunnycorset.com corsets are still fashionable for occasional wear. Brides like to wear one under their wedding gown or later as a tantalizing bedroom outfit. They certainly are sexy and accentuate a woman’s shape. Without the tight lacing at the back, they can even be comfortable.

 

Do you like Victorian or Edwardian history? Stories about real women? Then try my historical novel series about two sisters based on a true story. Whispers Through Time, Time Heal my Heart and Last Time Forever tell the story of the lives and loves of Francesca and Winnie in the era of The Titanic sinking, World War One and Two and beyond to 1950. Set in Sydney, Australia and Europe.

Before a woman could have a voice, she had to free her body. Every woman deserves a voice, and each voice is unique. Find your voice and use it for good. Many women through century have defied a man’s world to add their voice for changes to patriarchal society. I feature some on this blog. See website link below.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels; Whispers through Time, Time Heal my Heart, Colour comes to Tangles and The Last Hotel. See website https://joniscottauthor.com.

 

The Great Gatsby and all that jazz

The Great Gatsby and all that jazz

The Great Gatsby novel showcases the rich but disenchanted youth of the 1920s Jazz Age. In fact, it was its author, F.Scott Fitgerald who coined the term The Jazz Age when he wrote his short story Tales of the Jazz Age. So, what was this Jazz Age and when did it occur? Let’s explore The Great Gatsby and all that jazz. Though not popular on release, the novel is now a staple bestseller worldwide and heralded as a wonder of American literature for its depiction of the American Dream.

What was The Jazz Age?

The Jazz Age was a time of musical innovation, namely the blues, brass music, ballads and ragtime also called the Harlem Renaissance. The music began in New Orleans in the late 19th century as an expression by oppressed African Americans It became more widespread through speak easy joints and radio. The music attracted the attention of the white population and became the means for returned soldiers and the young to celebrate their freedom at the end of WWI. In time it became the worldwide soundtrack for the 1920s.

Who embraced the Jazz era?

It was mostly the young who embraced the jazz movement. Adolescents at the time became known as the Jazz Generation and the returning soldiers became known as The Lost Generation. Both groups enjoyed this rebellion against the previous more serious generation of their parents. Not only did they dance till dawn to the great music but they drank and exhibited risky behaviour. Dancing on tables, sliding down bannisters, riding on taxi roofs, they partied all night. Even their manner of dressing was considered scandalous. Especially for the women. Abandoning corsets and bodily constraints, young women wore sack like dresses with higher hemlines. They also cut their hair into chic bob style and wore jewelled headbands around their foreheads.

What was it like?

Despite prohibition in America, liquor was surprisingly easy to obtain. Smoking was also the go especially for women who had never smoked before. Another risky behavior in the eyes of the older generation. But possibly the riskiest was the free sex embraced. With the stirrings of votes for women worldwide, women suddenly wanted it all. They had worked as equals during the war doing men’s work so why should they now return to the kitchen and domestic sphere? They wanted to be Thoroughly Modern Millies or flappers. This last term refers to the dance style where dance partners appear to flap. The Charleston and The Black Bottom were very energetic dances.

The Jazz Age was fast-paced

Along with the fast dances and energetic jazz beats was a tide of rising consumerism. Radios, planes and cars were very exciting additions to everyday city life. The economy seemed to be booming and many invested in stocks and bonds. It was a time of optimism and hopefulness. Not only were the musicians transmitting these vibes, but writers and artists joined the energetic craze sweeping the world.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitgerald, the writer of The Great Gatsby was born in 1896 in Minnesota, USA. His family were not rich and so his early love, Ginerva King rejected his courtship overtures. Devastated, he enlisted in the army since WWI was in progress. While at Camp Sheridan, awaiting deployment he met southern belle, Zelda Sayre, the 17-year-old daughter of a wealthy man. They fell in love but  again Fitzgerald was rejected for lack of money and status. Determined he took to writing as he enjoyed it and had a talent. His short stories made money, so then he turned his hand to novels.

This Side of Paradise

Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise, published 1920, was an instant success. Suddenly money poured in, and he was over the moon because Zelda accepted his marriage proposal. They married in 1920 and lived in luxury at The Biltmore Hotel, partying like there was no tomorrow. In 1921 their first and only child Frances was born. She would always be called Scottie.

The Beautiful and The Damned

This was the title for his second novel published in 1922 about an artist and his flapper wife. Fitzgerald’s writing was again quite biographical they moved to Great Neck, Long Island. Across the bay was the classy Manhasset Neck. The situation would be used to model East and West Egg in his third novel, The Great Gatsby. The Beautiful and the Damned was not as well received as his first novel and money became scarce.

The Great Gatsby

Needing a break and inspiration, they moved to Paris in 1924. Many Americans gathered there to write and paint. He met Hemingway and the arty set and worked on his third novel which would become The Great Gatsby. Originally entitled Trimalchio then West Egg, it took off to a rocky start. Eventually his publisher, Schribners. insisted on the title The Great Gatsby after the main character, Jay Gatsby. Another intervention also paid off. Cugat, a Barcelonian artist responded to a commission to paint the book cover. His mesmerising image of giant tearful eyes overlooking a Coney Island Fair pleased Fitzgerald so much that he reworked the plot to include a roadside poster with similar large eyes near the turnoff past the Wilson garage. This is just one case of the brilliant use of symbolism in the novel.

Not a success

The Great Gatsby was not a success on release in 1925. Critics cited the improbable plot. They missed the symbolism entirely and were unappreciative of the beautiful prose and characterization. The book only ever made the author $2000 in his lifetime and sold only 20,000 copies. Some reviewers despaired of the lack of decent characters, especially a female one that readers could relate to. The shallow, vain and cruel Daisy Buchanan was not popular. She was neither the everywoman or a heroine to the mainly female reading audience.

But later became one

However since, Jay Gatsby’s attempt to raise himself up to nouveu riche standards is seen as the embodiment of The American Dream. Ie Anyone can make it in America. With the vision of distance, time has enriched the message taken from the novel and the public enjoyment of its story and prose. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda both died young, unhappy and apart. Zelda had mental problems and ended her days at 47 years in a fire in a sanitorium. Fitzgerald died in 1940 three years earlier at just 44 years in 1940 from alcohol abuse and its related health issues. He published one book more in 1934, Tender is the Night. Interestingly, it was written in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the location of one of my own novels, The Last Hotel. Another, The Last Tycoon, published after his death due to Edmund Wilson completing the manuscript.

Although Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories and Hollywood film scripts to keep himself and Zelda afloat financially, he was never a success in the literary world until after his death. During WW2, soldiers were given free copies of The Great Gatsby to read, and this kick-started an appreciation of this book and his writing. By 1960, The Great Gatsby was selling 100,000 copies per year. Now it has sold 30 million copies and is available in 42 languages. I guess the people of Fitzgerald’s own time were not ready for his work. The Jazz age with its sad optimism was too close and his message and prose fell on deaf ears. At the time the flawed characters of Gatsby and Daisy were not popular. Perhaps they were too real and like themselves. People wanted romantic escapism not reality. That is understandable! In the 1930s in the grip of The Great Depression, people wanted to escape or be cheered up.

Joni Scott is an Australian writer with four published novels. See her books and more on

 

 

 

The young Anzacs

The young Anzacs

Who were the young Anzacs who gave their lives for king and country? The answer is they were the ‘everyman’ and sadly the ‘every boy.’ Together the enlisted men and boys would make up The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, ANZACS for short.  Some were as young as fourteen, most were in their late teens or early twenties. There was no checking of birth certificates as men enlisted. The armies of Australia and its neighbor, New Zealand were eager to send as many troops as possible to help Britain defend itself and half of Europe.

These young Anzacs from the distant colonies of Mother England answered the call to duty. Fuelled by the spirit of adventure and patriotism, they enlisted early in the 1914 war, The Great War as it was first called. Most had never been overseas and so the prospect of a paid ‘holiday’ abroad with macho mates was exciting. Plus being part of a war would be something to talk about for the rest of their lives. And didn’t the young girls love a fellow in uniform!

But all too soon they found themselves on the tragic beaches of Gallipoli. After just a few months of training in Egypt, they were sent to the slaughter. Gallipoli is a peninsular not a town and is near the ancient ruins of Troy.

Not how they imagined war

The young Anzacs first deployment to active service was not how they imagined. It was not the grand glorious adventure that they enlisted for. It was a hopeless situation and many young lads expecting to be home for Christmas would never return to Australia. It was 25 April 1915. Numbering 16,000, the Australian and New Zealanders tried to disembark from the ships under a hail of munition fire from the enemy.

The young Anzacs were literally sitting ducks. Before they even made it to shore after disembarking the boats, they were mown down by the gunfire from the Turks above. Those who managed to reach the beach had no shelter still. There was little overhang from the steep cliffs, so safety was a fair distance from shore. It was 25 April 1915. Numbering 16,000, the Australian and New Zealanders tried to disembark from the ships under a hail of munition fire from the enemy.

Did the young Anzacs regret coming to war?

How many of these young Anzacs then wished they were home with their parents or still working as a jackeroo on the outback sheep station? Despite their hardiness acquired from work in the harsh environment of Australia and New Zealand, nothing could prepare them for this situation. The Turks who were meant to be unaware of the beach landings and also poorly armed with weapons were quite simply not. On the rugged steep cliffs, they were well positioned above the newcomers, and despite the rumours, had machine guns.

A plan that went terribly wrong

The plan went terribly wrong. It was both poorly thought through and poorly executed. The troop numbers were less than planned and they landed at the wrong cove where the terrain was impossibly steep. Plus, the Turks were well armed and in position waiting. There was no element of surprise as originally intended. No minor scuffle and victory.Instead it became one of the most costly campaigns of the war, in terms of men killed and reputations in tatters.

Winston Churchill had been the instigator of the plan. He foresaw establishing a sea route from the Mediterranean to Russia. This mighty empire was the third and strongest part of the allied Entente along with France and Britain. This intended sea route could only be secured if the Allies could secure the Gallipoli peninsula which was a part of the Ottoman Empire. Once achieved by a brief scuffle with the Turks, The Dardanelles strait would be under Allied control and a way onwards to Russia established.

The dead are remembered

But it didn’t go that way at all. After nine months of ghastly hostilities, the Allies finally had to concede defeat and admit their loss. They withdrew in December 1915 leaving behind 70000 dead. The Turks did not fare much better with 60000 dead. Today these men lay in the cemetery at Lone Pine where a ceremony is still held each year to remember their sacrifice. Since the tragedy April 25 has been called Anzac Day and is a date of remembrance both at home in Australia and New Zealand and in Gallipoli in modern day Turkey.

The day is remembered with a dawn service in many parts of the world but certainly in Australia and Turkey. It is held at dawn because this was when the troops first tried to land on the beaches. The holiday is not a celebration of war at all. Rather it is a day to hope that never again will so many fine young men die for so little. Nothing was achieved by the costly campaign. Turkey did not get ousted from the war, neither did the British clear a ship route to Russia.

Origin of the word ANZAC

The acronym is attributed to Major General William Birdwood and dates to Cairo in 1915 before the troops sailed to Gallipoli. The last true Anzac soldier was Alexander Campbell who died in 2002 aged 103. At just 16, he joined the army straight from school. Arriving October 1915 at Gallipoli he became a stores carrier. Young and agile, he ran up and down the rugged cliffs. Invalided home after the troop evacuation, he was discharged in 1916. The Australian War Memorial website has much information on men who served. The war memorial in our capital Canberra is also an amazing and moving place to visit.

The young Anzacs were volunteers

The men and boy Anzacs were volunteers. Conscription did not exist for WWI because so many were happy to go willingly to war. There was no need. Although Billy Hughes, the prime minister, made two attempts to introduce it via referendum. Both times in 1916 and 1917 the public voted a decided ‘No’. These men and boys gave their tomorrow for our today. Snuffed out in their youth so we could be free. How few are those who appreciate this sacrifice.

Aboriginal Australians legally were barred from enlisting. However, about a thousand of them did. If light skinned their presence in the ranks was undetected. It took many years before their service became recognised.

The Anzac Biscuit

On a lighter note, is the interesting origin of the Anzac biscuit. A staple in supermarkets and a standard recipe in cookbooks, it is made with butter, oats, coconut, sugar, flour and golden syrup. The original version was less sweet, much harder and square not round. Men accidentally broke their teeth on them. An army ration, they were suitable more for making porridge or thickening stew or even fried as fritters. Later, mums and sisters back home modified the recipe to be more biscuit like. They sent the biscuits in tins to their loved ones. The ingredients especially the sugar content made the biscuits travel well.

If you like stories about this time in history, you will enjoy my WWI novel based on a true story. Time heal my Heart is such a story of love, loss and sacrifice.

Joni Scott is an Australian writer with an interest in history. She has four published books, two historical, two contemporary. Meet Joni and her books on her website, jonisscottauthor.com.

 

 

A railway journey through time

A railway journey through time

From the 19th century on the achievements and inventions of the human race transformed the world. Suddenly there were new ways to communicate and move around. So began a railway journey through time. Up until the age of steam engines, most people lived in the area where they had been born and rarely went further than a day’s journey from home.

The first railway journey

Steam was first used in engines for the emerging factories of the Industrial Revolution. Then later it was used to power boats. But only when the engines became smaller could they be used on wheels and the idea of railways developed. George Stephenson engineered a railway from Liverpool to Manchester using his son, Robert’s engine called The Rocket. It opened in 1830.

The Stephenson’s then built a longer line connecting London and Birmingham. The excitement caught on and soon the pair were helping other countries develop railways. This led the chairman of the modern British Rail to comment that the whole world travels on a branch line of the Liverpool to Manchester original.

No stopping the railway

Once the railways came, there was no stopping their momentum. They carried goods to and from factories and eventually displaced the canal system of transport. They carried people to cities for work and business and the ordinary folk to seaside locations for recreation. The countryside was linked by the networks and huge viaducts built to span gullies and rivers. Railways brought prosperity to isolated towns and scenic coastlines. Everyone wanted to take a railway journey.

An ode to the railways

Another son of a Stephen, Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island book fame penned a poem, an ode to railways. It is called From a railway carriage and starts like this.

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches.
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

I love the pace and the rhyme. Quite catchy as poems used to be before free verse. I used part of this as a header for one of my chapters in my historical series novel, Time Heal my Heart. It seemed apt for the time of the early 20th century when railways moved to the suburbs. Before people had cars they moved around on bicycle, tram, bus and train.

Railways take priority

Let’s continue our railway journey through time. Once railway networks extended anything in their way had to move. They seemed to have priority. The whole of the St Pancras cemetery had to move and be relocated for the Northern London line. Thomas Hardy before he was a famous novelist worked on this project. he positioned all the gravestones around a giant oak tree that is now known as The Hardy Tree. This story features in my novel Whispers through Time.

Likewise, when Sydney some years later had to build a suburban network, the Devonshire Street cemetery had to be moved to allow for the Central Station. Today many bodies still lie below the bustling station. The moving of a cemetery is very disrespectful. Corpses in various stages of decay are hauled from their resting places to a new site of mass burial. Headstones were left behind.

So, as you see there was no progress like rail progress. Today we see a similar process as green energy transmission lines take precedence and crush all in their path as they proceed through farmland and towns. I wonder what history will make of this in years to come.

Railways in America and Europe

The railway journey craze spread to America and Europe.  Following the example of Britain, they forged ahead with steam driven rail networks. The American pioneer Colonel John Stevens (another son of Stephen!) oversaw the first rail carriages pulled by horse and wagon. A faster and wider form of transport was sorely needed in such a vast country as America.

Europe was not far behind. France, by 1832, had a line between St Etienne and Lyon. Originally intended to transport coal it turned to passenger transport as well. Belgium and Germany followed with industry then passenger transport as the rage caught on. Politics and commerce spurred on even greater railway building projects. The vast continents of Africa and Russia benefited like America from this new form of transport. Ports could be linked to cities and one end of an empire connected to another. So developed the Trans-Siberian network and parts of the trans-Africa network. Terrain and colonial acquisitions stopped this latter vast project from succeeding.

The famous Orient Express

Europe being smaller concentrated more on passenger services. The idea of linking Paris to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) resulted in The Orient Express. It was the baby of a Belgian, Georges Nagelmackers who had already launched an international line from Ostend to Brindisi in Italy. But for the orient line the railway had to cross six nations. Not so easy plus the line was nearly 3000km long. It would cross Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria on the way to where east meets west, Constantinople.

It first left Le Gare de l’Est on October 4, 1883 on its way east. The last part of the journey was by boat though because the line was yet unfinished. Six years later it finally made the whole trip in three and a half days. That was marvellous in itself but what captivated the public was the sheer opulence of the train. Its sleeping compartments panelled with teak had marquetry inlays and water faucets. Guards for each compartment saw to all their passenger’s needs. Hot showers were available in a rear coach. There were also dining cars serving cocktails and fine cuisine, a smoking room and even a library.

The trip was very popular as it was much quicker than the boat alternative. The Orient added other routes to Milan and Venice plus from Constantinople you could connect to transport to Syria and Baghdad. Agatha Christie took this trip in 1928 after her traumatic marrige ending. She ran off and had a fantastic adventure which fuelled a few novels like Death on the Nile and Death in Mesopotamia. She met her second husband, Max Mallowan on a dig on a second trip there.

The Blue Train to the Riviera

Another glamorous train in France was Le Train Bleu which linked the port Calais with Paris then to the Riviera. In the early 1900s this was a favourite with socialites who would disppear to the Riviera for the season. Coco Chanel loved this train. It had blue sleeper cars with gold trim, hence its name. Only during the war years did it stop the night service to Marseilles, Nice and Menton.

Eventually with the desire for fast travel, trains grew out of vogue and air travel was the go.  But some services like The Orient Express are so popular for romance and nostalgia reasons that they are making a comeback. The Orient Express is due to travel again this year.  

Everything old is new again! If you love the Riviera, read my novel, The Last Hotel set there. A modern tale with old fashioned glamour and romance. Trains feature in all my books. I love trains so have my characters moving around on them. In my historical novels they have no choice.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published books. See more on her website.joniscottauthor.com

Philoxenia and the kindness of strangers.

Philoxenia and the kindness of strangers.

Whilst at a book signing recently a customer browsing books nearby approached me with a book in hand. Unexpectedly, he asked what the title Philoxenia, a seat at my table. meant. Maybe he thought seeing as I was an author, I would know the meaning of the obviously foreign word in the title.

I eyed the attractive cover which featured a bowl of olives and a plate of rustic bread.”It looks like it is a Greek cookbook,” I commented. This was confirmed by the nature of the author’s names, Kon and Sia Karapanagiotidis. Delightfully long Greek names. The man smiled but still hovered. I had not answered his question. What does the word Philoxenia mean?

What does philoxenia mean?

I looked at the word again and recognised within it two smaller Greek words. They are ‘philos’ meaning friend and ‘xenos’ meaning stranger. “I think it means ‘the love of strangers'” I said, “but as it is obviously a cookbook, not sure if I am right.”

“I will google it,” he offered. Why he didn’t do this in the first place, I did wonder. Maybe he just wanted company or a chat with a ‘xenos’, a stranger like me. Or was I starting to look like a Miss Marple in my autumn years? No, that can’t be it, surely not, he is too young to be an Agatha Christie fan like me.

“It means hospitality or kindness to strangers,” he announced, flashing his phone towards me. “Ah!” I replied, “That makes sense. What a lovely word with a special meaning. We have both learnt something today. Thank you!” The stranger now a little less of a stranger, smiled. he had a lovely smile that further brightened my morning. Smiles are like that, aren’t they. So much better than frowns or blank stares! You feel less invisible.

Becoming more visible thanks to philoxenia

At book events, even though you are meant to be increasing your visibility as an author, you can feel very invisible. Folk wander by immersed in their own world, fair enough, I guess. But I always smile and say ‘good morning’ but many just give me a blank stare or grunt in return. Not practising philoxenia obviously. My new word.

The stranger stayed. His name was Brad. We chatted about food which made me a tad hungry as I had rushed to get here and not had breakfast. Then we chatted about travels another wonderful engaging topic. He like me had travelled widely and now we had our word, we extolled on the hospitality or philoxenia we had both experienced abroad. We had both been adopted for meals by Greek and Italian families we had randomly met. Yes, these lovely Europeans like to share their wonderful earthy cuisines with strangers. Meals made from the most basic of ingredients, fresh from the market and transformed into luscious comforting and delicious dishes for all to share. I remembered that I had included a chapter about this phenomenon in my latest book, Time Heal my Heart. 

Philoxenia and the English man

In Chapter 27, I think it is, the characters Oscar and Luigi retire from the exhausting Giro d’Italia bike race of 1914 (the most difficult race ever) They visit Luigi’s uncle and aunt in nearby Florence. There in the courtyard garden, they are plied with plates of steaming spaghetti to reinvigorate their stiff aching limbs. There in the garden, Oscar the Englishman marvels at the ‘philoxenia’ of Luigi’s family. Estranged from his own family in London, he has been a runaway for years and not even informed his parents where he is. How different is this happy, loving family sharing a splendid meal under a splendid tree in beautiful Florence.

Oscar will remember his sojourn in Florence for years to come. His time there with this family and their philoxenia prefaces the horror of the years to come. Even though Oscar and Luigi have no idea at this time, the world is about to erupt into war. In a few weeks’ time as they travel to Sarajevo, they will coincide with its outbreak, the opening shots fired by Gavrilo Princip that will echo around the world.

How a sandwich led to the outbreak of WWI

And this is another foodie story because Gavrilo would not have shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie if he hadn’t stopped for a sandwich at Moritz Schiller’s delicatessen! Now that’s a story in itself. See above link to Gavrilo Princip to read about this amazing coincidence that changed the lives of millions. I could not resist having my boys Oscar and Luigi also eating a salami sandwich nearby. A sort of Forest Gump moment. They become firsthand witnesses of the shot that lights the powder keg and boom! we have a world war. The first one ever. They called it The Great War. But it was not so great if you became embroiled in it as millions worldwide did. Oscar escapes the rising tensions by taking off to Argentina, but Luigi stays and takes the confusing consequences of his country changes sides during the war.

Philoxenia rules the day!

Now I have come a long way off topic and away from my chance meeting in the bookshop. What happened, you might ask if you made it this far? (having survived my digressions and rants) Well done you. My stranger now not a stranger stayed to chat as I said and this led, I believe to other people thinking I was worth talking to and maybe not so invisible, so a few people hovered. They picked up and turned over my books to read the blurb on the back cover. Two wondered off to the counter with copies of The Last Hotel, my bestseller. Not everyone wants a signature and mine is not flash since I have CRPS in my right hand.

Thanks to the kindness of a stranger and later a few more strangers who stopped by, I had a lovely afternoon in Rosetta’s Bookshop, Maleny in the lovely hinterland of Queensland, Australia where I live. If you are ever here in our great southern land make sure to visit the Sunshine Coast Hinterland where you can view from a distance The (stunning) Glasshouse Mountains to the south. In Maleny and nearby Montville you can experience the hospitality or philoxenia of Queenslanders! There are many cafes, cheeseries and wineries where you can share a bowl of olives and some rustic bread just like the Greeks do.

Joni Scott is an Australian writer. See website joniscottauthor.com to read her history blog and find her books.

The Origins of Easter

The Origins of Easter

While researching for my second novel, I learnt about the origin of the word Easter and the different tradition in France where this novel, The Last Hotel is set.

The English word Easter is derived from ‘Eostre’, the name of a pre-Christian goddess associated with spring and fertility. Easter occurs at the spring equinox when the day is divided into equal periods of night and day. Spring in the northern hemisphere is a season of new life for plants and animals. Hence the bunnies, chicks and eggs of Easter celebrations in the Western world. Easter occurs at the spring equinox when the day is divided into equal periods of night and day. Spring in the northern hemisphere is a season of new life for plants and animals.

Easter and the natural world

Religious festivals are often connected to the natural world and its seasons. Before all the modern gadgets, electricity and devices, man was more in tune with the natural world. When the sun set the only light was from the moon until the sun rose again. Imagine that. Today you have to take a camping trip to a remote area to experience that. Even then some fellow campers could bring along televisions etc. Don’t you hate that. Why go camping??!

In the non-English speaking world, Easter is called by derivatives of the word Passover which is the festival in Hebrew Culture celebrating the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. (Book of Exodus). The word Pascha comes from the Hebrew Pesah. Unleavened or unrisen bread is eaten in the form of matzo. Jewish people and others enjoy matzo ball soup which is quite delicious.

The trial and crucifixion of Jesus occurred at Passover, so his death and resurrection coincide with Passover. His death is honored on Good Friday and his rebirth on the Easter Sunday. These same days became associated with the pagan festivities of the time celebrating renewal and rebirth. This explains the origins of Easter.

Easter is both a happy and sad time

In the Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday precedes Good Friday by about six weeks and is the start of Lent. This traditionally is a time of fasting and prayer leading up to Easter.

Not all Christians observe the Lent ritual. Ashes were used in ancient times to express grief and sorrow and placed on the head.

In the Christian tradition, Easter is both a sad and joyous date on the calendar. It marks the death but also the resurrection of Jesus. As Easter is determined by the moon and seasons, the actual calendar date varies from year to year.

What is the Holy Week?

Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem triumphant and feted on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the day that would become known as Easter Sunday.

This is the beginning of Holy Week. The Last Supper took place on the Thursday, Maundy Thursday when Jesus ate with his disciples. That night he prayed long into the night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas, one of his disciples, betrayed him. He fell out of favor with authorities, and they crucified and buried him on Good Friday.

According to the Bible, Jesus rose from the dead three days later, on Easter Sunday, signaling the victory of life over death and the promise of eternal salvation for believers. Believing in his deity as the son of God, and trusting in his guidance, guarantees you forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting in heaven.

Christians attend church services at Easter. The Good Friday service is a solemn service that usually follows the 14 stations of the cross as Jesus made his way carrying the heavy cross to his place of crucifixion.

On Easter Sunday, the service is by contrast joyful celebrating his rising or resurrection. Both services involve participation in special liturgies and hymns. Some churches also hold Easter processions and pageants, reenacting the events of the resurrection. This is particularly so in the Philippines where the Holy Week is celebrated.

Easter, a time of hope and renewal

Easter is a holiday rich in history and tradition. It is intercultural around the world. Whether you celebrate it for its religious significance or its cultural significance, it is a time of renewal and hope, a time to celebrate the arrival of spring or hope and the promise of new life.

Later as children became a distinct entity not just little adults, mythical bunnies were added from German folklore to deliver sweet nougat or chocolate eggs to ‘good’ children just as Santa Claus rewarded them at Christmas. In Europe, it is also traditional to paint eggshells and hang the pretty eggs as a display.

In France chocolate bells also feature as a tradition to connect with the joyful ringing of church bells on Easter Sunday.

From Christian sorrow and joy, church services to family gatherings or Easter eggs brought by the Easter bunny, Easter is a time to come together with loved ones and rejoice in the blessings of life and be grateful.

Happy Easter!

photo source

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour Comes to Tangles and Time, Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

Who invented buttons?

Who invented buttons?

Now, this seems a silly question. You might answer who cares. Buttons are trivial nonessentials to everyday life. But since my week strangely enough has been besieged by buttons, I asked myself this question. Who invented buttons?

My week started ordinarily enough but then on two separate occasions; a button popped off my dress. Two occasions, two different dresses. Now you may say, “well, all your dresses must be close to their use by date.” And this could be true. I do hang onto things a little longer than the average girl. Returning home from the second outing minus another button, I decided to replace the missing buttons. Being a thrifty baby boomer, I had a ready supply of spare buttons in an allocated tin. My father who taught me such thriftiness, would have been proud of my preparedness.

Sorting buttons, Am I mad?

The buttons I needed were not immediately found in the large tin, so I poured the contents of the whole tin into a salad bowl and started sorting. By the end of an hour and two cups of tea later (plus one and a half slices of lemon madeira cake), I had piles of buttons sorted by colour. There were lots of white shirt buttons, and less of the coloured versions. The three orange buttons were an unexpected find.

Buttons sorted, I sewed on the missing dress buttons and put all the sewing paraphernalia away. If you have survived reading this far, well done! Silly lady chatter. This boring mundane activity did not pique my interest into the origins of the button. It was the next day at my weekly women’s group where rather than our usual mystery guest speaker, we had instead a craft activity. And, oh no, the craft material provided was, you guessed, it buttons. We were like kindergarteners or those at the other end of life, the nursing home inmates, making cards using buttons (and a few bows.)

The history of buttons

So, this weird coincidence led me to ponder the meaning of life, according to buttons. Who invented buttons? Were they always for fastening clothes? Let’s unpack a bit of fashion history. Buttons are traced to the Indus Valley (Pakistan) circa 2800 BC, Scotland c 2000BC and in the Bronze Age sites in China and Ancient Rome. So, buttons have been around a fair time. They were used for ornamental purposes on fabric but not as fasteners, just for decoration. The first buttons were made from seashells and then later of the newly formed metal, alloy of bronze made from copper and tin.

The development of buttons follows the history of materials available to man. Over their history, buttons have been crafted from shells, ivory, metal, glass, silk, enamel, leather, enamel, wood, china and plastic. Buttons used for fastening date to the Roman Empire where leatherwork shows buttonholes. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that where there were buttonholes there were buttons. These were evidenced in leather satchels before use on clothes and shoes. By the Byzantine, there were buttons to fasten cuffs and necks of shirts and tunics and for sleeves and necklines for women’s dresses.

The word ‘button’ comes from a German word meaning ‘to push through’ which makes sense once the buttonhole emerged.

Buttons as status symbols

At some time, the side on which the button was sewn became gender assigned.  The left for women and the right for men. This is believed to be due to a man having to draw his weapon from left to right without slicing off his supply of buttons. Another reason is that the maids need to dress their ladies with their right hand, and this is easier if the buttons are on the left. The badge like buttons also emerged and worn to advertise allegiance to a group or army. Soldier buttons could even serve as lockets with locks of their beloved one’s hair kept inside close to their heart. With all buttons, the fancier the button, the higher the status of the wearer. Buttons were status symbols just like rings and jewelry can be today.

Why do the Amish ban buttons?

Maybe this is why the Amish people ban buttons, calling them along with many other modernities, ‘proud.’Buttons are a sign of individuality and vanity, two things the Amish try to avoid. By not wearing buttons, all members of the community look the same regardless of their wealth or social standing. Anything individual brings attention to oneself, so buttons are not on the Amish agenda. Uniformity is the key.

I would not be happy as an Amish woman. I love colour and diversity in clothing. It makes me feel happy. That is why I wrote a book about colour; Colour Comes to Tangles.

Buttons for everyone

Moving on; The Industrial Revolution brought buttons and many other products to the masses. Buttons now could be made en masse not singly by artisans. The simple flat button with two or four holes was easier to manufacture than a button with a stud or post or a cuff-link toggle style. Most shirt and dress buttons were flat and white or bone coloured and this is still true today.

Then came the zipper

With time, other forms of fastening clothes evolved such as the press stud, hook and eye and the zipper. The last, the clasp fastener or zipper as it is now known, has revolutionised clothing, handbags and many, many other everyday objects. No one individual is responsible but a series of gentlemen. see the zipper link. 

Elias Howe, Jr. (1819–1867), the inventor of the sewing machine, received a patent in 1851 for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” Elias did not pursue marketing his clothing closure system and so missed his chance to become the “Father of the Zip.”

Forty-four years later, Whitcomb Judson (1846–1909) marketed a “Clasp Locker” device similar to Howe’s idea. As first to market, Whitcomb became the “inventor of the zipper.” However, his 1893 patent did not use the word zipper.

The 1851 Chicago “Clasp Locker” was first a hook-and-eye shoe fastener, a redesign of Elias Howe’s. Colonel Lewis Walker, Whitcomb launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device. The clasp locker made its debut at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair but was met with little enthusiasm. Instead, Swedish-born electrical engineer, Gideon Sundback (1880–1954) made the zipper the hit it is today.

The “zipper” name came from the B. F. Goodrich Company, which used Sundback’s fastener on rubber boots. or galoshes. However, it took 20 more years to convince the fashion industry to use the closure on garments.

In the 1930s, a sales campaign began for children’s clothing featuring zippers. The campaign promoted zippers for self-reliance in young children as zippers made it possible for children to dress themselves.

No more buttons for the fly.

In 1937, the zipper beat the button in the “Battle of the Fly.” French fashion designers used zippers in men’s trousers and Esquire magazine declared the zipper the way to go for men. There would be no more peep hole embarrassments caused by missing or undone buttons. But the men still had to remember to zip their fly!

The next big boost for the zipper came when zippers could open on both ends such as on jackets. Today the zipper is everywhere. But we still have buttons!  Those cute little fasteners that led to the saying ‘as cute as a button.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

Photo by elnaz asadi on Unsplash

 

Why do we run away from trauma?

Why do we run away from trauma?

Characters that run away from trauma

As I write this, I realize that all of my five novels have characters, mostly women that run away from their current lives. They run away from trauma. Maybe it is a coincidence I choose this theme or is it because I myself am a runaway? Mind you, history is full of examples of women running away. I never realized until I started researching the matter. The correct term for this response to trauma is called ‘dissociative fugue.’

In my first novel, Whispers through Time, set in early 1900s, two sisters, Francesca and Winifred run away from London to Australia to escape their unhappiness. The characters were inspired by me reflecting why my grandmother ran off from her large family of siblings in London. Then later in life she runs away again from her new family and that is why I barely knew her. Why do we run away from trauma?  She shut herself off from her loved ones.

Why does a woman run away? It is the subject of today’s blog, The runaway response to trauma.

Then in my best seller, The Last Hotel, my character Jenny escapes her abusive marriage for a holiday in France with her ballet dancer son. Unwittingly, I’m at it again, in Colour Comes to Tangles, my next book. One of the characters is missing in action somewhere and her friends mount a search. In Time Heal my Heart, another historical, it is a minor character but a mysterious one who leaves her native France to come to Australia. To tell you more would contain spoilers. Find more plot details on my website or Amazon books.

Agatha Christie, the runaway

So let me start exploring this runaway phenomenon as it is a recurring theme and true to life, not just the stuff of fiction. Did you know that Agatha Christie, the famous mystery writer ran away? In 1926, she disappeared for ten days and the police from two counties were looking for her. It was as sensational as her best seller of a few years previous, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the book that made her famous.  After a quarrel with her cheating husband, Archie, Agatha drives off and parks her car precariously overlooking a Surrey quarry and plain disappears. She leaves behind her fur coat and driver’s license and also leaves the car headlights on.

What are the police to presume from this? Yes, of course, it looks suspicious, and Archie is the prime suspect. Agatha is missing presumed the victim of foul play. But in reality, she just wandered off and caught public transport to Harrogate where she booked into a hotel under the name of her husband’s mistress. Curious and curiouser as Alice would say. Finally, after an exhaustive police hunt and public newspaper appeals someone at the hotel recognizes Agatha and she is found.

Public opinion is mixed. Was it a staged disappearance to gain publicity or a desperate appeal to her husband to rethink his request for a divorce. Or was it neither of these and just amnesia? This seems more likely as Agatha was a shy woman not one to invite attention. Indeed, although today the answer to her strange disappearance is not any of these for sure, it makes sense that she was so distressed by the recent death of her mother and infidelity of Archie, that she just ran away. It was all too much.

Fugue or running away from trauma

I can relate to this myself as I did just that twenty odd years ago. Like Agatha it was out of character and surprised everyone even me. This condition is called ‘dissociative fugue’ and is a way of avoiding a situation because the trauma is too much to process at the time. This all makes sense but was not a known condition at the time. Nor is it today. I had never heard of it until I was researching Agatha Christie for my blog and a U3A talk.

This fugue state is one of four reactions to trauma that all start with the letter ‘f’. They are freeze, fight, fawn or flee. Fugue is the equivalent of the flee version. The others involve doing nothing, fighting, submitting in that order. These are common responses seen in domestic violence situations. Often the woman abused is too afraid to do anything and so ultimately submits and tries to please or appease her abuser. Fighting is not often a viable method especially if the other person is much bigger or stronger. Fleeing can work if you have somewhere safe to go. Agatha had a car and money to stay at a hotel, but many women cannot just run away especially if children are involved.

Historical cases of women running away from trauma

Decades ago, many women had unwanted pregnancies and had nowhere to turn. The shame of their situation led them to be dismissed from their domestic service and shunned by the father. This terrible situation is the plot for many a historical novel ie beautiful young servant impregnated by rogue son of the manor. Thomas Hardy was the master of such tales. Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a tragedy due to the Victorian morals that set one rule for men and another for women. Tess is seduced and shamed by a bad man and suffers the damnation of society.

Women who cannot run away from trauma

Fortunately, in Western countries this is not such an issue. Governments now support unwed mothers to be. But in many African and Arabic cultures the shame is still there, and fathers or brothers still murder female family members that dishonor the family name. It is very difficult for these women to run away and start again. Women instead often stay and submit to the penalty. Most times it is not even their fault that they shame the family. Many are victims of rape or incest. It is a sad world where this still happens.

Despite progress, it is still a patriarchal world where women and girls suffer. The suffragettes fought for women’s rights, women gained the right to vote but they are still often the victims of men’s aggression.

If you like to read books about real women, then try one of my novels. I have three historical and two contemporary and all are based on real lives and situations.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

 

The Rivalry of Sisters

The Rivalry of Sisters

‘Of all the gifts great and small, a sister is the greatest of them all.’ So, the saying goes and for many of us, this rings true. But history abounds with famous sisters who don’t exactly get along. First up, there are the famous biblical sisters like Rachel and Leah. These two exemplify the problem of sibling rivalry so often part of biblical stories. Rachel and Leah both have to share the man they love, Jacob. He first loved and married Rachel but she was unable to have children, so he took Leah to bed as well to bear his children. Imagine Rachel’s pain at this development. It is an untenable position.

The rivalry of the Boleyn Sisters

Moving forward, there are the beautiful Boleyn sisters who both wanted to marry the same man, Henry VIII. Quite a bad choice really as Anne literally lost her head in 1536 over that man. She lives on as one of Britain’s most famous ghosts while Mary sleeps on peacefully in her grave. Anne’s ghost is reportedly seen in many places around London and beyond including the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Hever castle. She was not ready to die and especially in not such a horrible way, deceived by her love. Her sister was a more reliable support to her despite the jealousy.

The rivalry of the Queen and Princess Margaret

Other royal sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret shared a special sister bond but for Margaret the younger, it was not all plain sailing. Having a big sister who is also the queen of England was not easy. Margaret could not marry the man she wanted because he was divorced. She needed the Church of England’s and Elizabeth’s approval and it was not at first given. But in fact, the Queen and Eden drew up a plan in 1955 under which Princess Margaret could marry Peter Townsend while keeping her royal title and her civil list allowance. She could live in this country and even continue with public duties but she had to renounce succession as a royal princess. Read all about this here. 

Margaret ultimately, after much thought, decided to not marry Peter and married Anthony Armstrong Jones instead.  She did not have a happy marriage or life but kept the close bond to her older sister, Queen Elizabeth.

Though they had issues when Margaret wanted to marry a divorced commoner, they put this aside to maintain their special bond through life. After all it cannot be easy being the younger sister of a queen. So great was the love of Margaret for her big sister that she opted for her own cremation so there would be room in the family vault for Elizabeth and Philip one day and so she could be near her parents. Her ashes lie in the King George VI Memorial Chapel alongside her sister and the Duke of Edinburgh and her parents.

The Romanov Sisters

Recently, I have posted about the Romanov sisters. They were also royalty and suffered a terrible fate because of their status. Read about these beautiful young grand duchesses in my recent posts on the Russian royal family and these tragic sisters. They seemed to get along well but Anastasia the youngest may have been a bit of a brat. She was the naughtiest of the mostly very well behaved and family orientated sisters.

Rivalry between writing sisters

The arts abounds with famous sisters. The Bronte sisters, Anne, Charlotte and Emily shared a love of writing. maybe they shared a sense of rivalry as to who could write the best story? I know it was Agatha Christie’s big sister madge who challenged Agatha to write a crime novel. She did well, didn’t she. Writing over 80 novels and stories as well as plays, Agatha Christie became the most read and published novelist of all time.

I love the fictional sisters of Little Women and how they mostly got along just fine for four sisters with different temperaments. There are hints at jealousy and competitiveness but nothing too savage happens. maybe because it is fiction. But not all sisters have happy relationships. No one can be more annoying than a little sister trying to take the limelight or steal your boyfriend. Jealousy is a big issue that often ignites a lifetime of rivalry.

Movie Star rival sisters

In the case of movie star sisters, Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland, the enmity was fierce. They competed at star level and never softened their fierce jealousy of each other.

The Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley made their acting debut while babies. They share an even more special sister bond, that of twins. Venus and Serena Williams are sisters at a unique competitive level, that of gold medals. They mostly leave their rivalry on the courts. Then there’s the Kardashian sisters competing for the best curves.

Have you heard of Zsa Zsa  and Eva Gabor? They were two sisters out of a trio of Hungarian born sisters. Magda is lesser known though she married actor, George Sanders, her little sister’s cast-off husband. Zsa Zsa, the middle sister competed with Eva for men, money and beauty. Though the sisters married multiple times, Zsa Zsa was the only one to have a child. The Gabor sister act was an act to follow in the 1940’s and 50’s. They were always in the news, a bit like the Kardashians of today.

In the 1930s, The Andrews Sisters, Patty, Maxene and Laverne were another sister trio, a singing group famous for ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and other swing hits during WWII. They rated as the best-selling of all female vocal groups. Despite singing beautifully together and selling 75 million records, they started a fight in 1937 though they stayed as an act until 1967 when Laverne died.

Birth order and rivalry of sisters

Birth order does seem to have an effect on how sisters get along. The order of birth also is said to determine the personality of a child. First born children are usually more sensible, calm and conservative compared to their younger sisters. This is because their parents often spend more time on the discipline side of parenting. Later children meet laxer parenting as the parents run out of puff with a larger brood to control. Little sisters often get to do things their older sisters could not at the same age. this explains the claim that little sisters are spoilt.

As a a younger sister, I can see this. My sister claims I was spoilt and she had a tougher time. However, I have always looked up to my big sister and listened to her advice. I even wrote her into my first book as a character! Whispers Through Time also tells the story of two sisters, my grandmother and great aunt who emigrated to Australia in 1912. They had a special bond through life though their lives took different directions. One married an itinerant worker and the other a rich doctor, but they stayed connected through their shared ordeals during World War One and Two.

In the third book in this series, Last Time Forever, a sense of rivalry that must always have been there, rises to the fore. The sisters have a falling out later in life. Watch out for this last book in the sister trilogy. It’s at the publishers now. But meanwhile if you like stories of sisters and historical fiction, read the others, Whispers through Time and Time, heal my Heart. 

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

Photo from Unsplash.

 

 

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