Friday, 15 March 2013

It has been a rather interesting time in France. Marcia is published (under her pseudonym “Willa Marsh”) by Éditions Autrement Littératures. So far they have published all four of the books she wrote under that name and these are the ones that have attracted praise in The Times here, in England, and La Figero in Paris. Here is what the latter had to say:

“Willa Marsh c’est Jane Austin avec l’humour de Blake Edwards . . . Elle mène les lecteurs par le bout du nez, et passe du burlesque au tragique avec le flegme d’un lord Anglais.” My French is nowhere near as good as it should be but I think that may be reasonably translated as saying, “Willa Marsh is Jane Austin with the humour of Blake Edwards. She leads the readers by the nose through a tragic burlesque involving a phlegmatic English nobleman.”

Anyway, whether or not as a result of being noticed by La Figero, Autrement have decided to publish Meutres au manoir or, as we know it, The Quick and the Dead as a mass paperback book it having done well under the Littératures imprint. At the same time they are publishing Le Prix de l’innocence (Facing the Music). Both books were translated by the delightful Éric McComber (as French as they come but via Canada) who, while he is working, would email and telephone Marcia with requests for help when he came across something he did not understand: they ended up by becoming the best of friends. Once such conversation went something like this.

Éric: ‘What is this smooching? We do not have smooching in France. Would it be the kissing with the tongues?

Marcia: ‘You do have kissing with the tongues! We call that French kissing! No, imagine you are on the dance floor, the band is playing a slow and dreamy number and you and your partner move together in perfect accord. You move closer and perhaps you kiss her hair.’

Éric: ‘Ah, yes. I know exactly the phrase I shall put there.’

Some of the Willa’s have references that would clearly mean nothing to the readers in France. For example, in Meutres entre sœurs (Sisters Under the Skin) the BBC Radio programme Mrs Dale’s Diary crops up quite a few times. Autrement deal with this by explaining in footnotes. Brilliant.

There is no good reason for this picture: I just like the slightly decaying thatch with the equally decaying corrugated iron and the telegraph post way off vertical. 
This time last year we were talking about the tadpoles that I used to hand rear (well, more or less) before returning them to the ponds when I felt they were bog enough to look after themselves. At the moment I am working on the copy editing of Marcia’s next book, Postcards from the Past, which will be published in the autumn. I am delighted that one of the characters in this book has obviously been reading my blogs: he has a tadpolarium very like the one I used to have. Here all we have is a tiny pond but, to our great joy, we saw some frog-spawn in it on Wednesday. I shall keep you posted.

This week’s butterfly isn’t a butterfly at all: it’s a moth. This is really very stupid of me. Butterflies are by far the easier of the two: if you look at the distribution maps for British butterflies you will find that we have a mere thirty-five here in the south west plus, of course, the ones that land up here unintentionally. The position with moths is very different. Over two thousand four hundred species have been recorded in the British Isles but I really don’t know how many are resident in the south west. Needless to say, this makes identification a lot harder. This one is, I am reasonably certain, a Silver Y Autographa gamma. When I showed the picture to Marcia she said that it looked like a monster from outer space. What do you think?

Blog dog this week is Fern.

Finally, last week I was asked if there are any photos of Marcia as a dance. Well there is this one (which she doesn't like) and I will try and find some others if I can.