Wow everybody, is this not a strange fix that we are all in. Early last month I came back from holidays, found out the island I was on had a Coronavirus case, self-quarantined, didn’t want to worry anyone, and thought I would emerge and say ‘hey, wasn’t that odd, all blown over now.’ A cancelled St Patrick’s Day and many quarantined lands including mine own later…
I was lucky and just managed to move into my new house, the first house I’ve ever had, though there are still walls unpainted. My greatest tragedy right now, other than worry about the world in general and people (those feeding, healing and helping all those indoors, my heroic doctor sister-in-law!) in specific, is not having a TV. I know others are having a terrible time of it. I worry there’s not much I can do besides donating (www.feedtheheroes.com!) but I would love to do something to brighten someone’s quarantined day, whether that is by sharing novels in progress, writing a little something for someone, sharing thoughts about home décor, sharing writing/publishing advice or process, livetweeting more Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or a kdrama… I am open to all things. If you (yes you!) can think of something you would like me to do… Leave me a comment here, ask me a Tumblr question, email me. I am here! I am not leaving my home because that is forbidden now!
For a start I keep seeing people saying that they would like to consume Feel Good media (also thousands are watching Contagion a ton and I just re-read Stephen King’s The Stand, we are all different weirdo snowflakes). So I thought it might be fun to do an All-Comfort No-Hurt Book Club. In which I describe in detail the plots of books I highly recommend and which I think might charm and beguile the weary quarantine hours.
I shall give away (in ebook or physical form as the winner prefers) three copies of said comfort read to people who tweet or otherwise link to this post! If a physical copy is wanted I shall do my best to find a nearby-to-winner indie bookshop still delivering. This will be worldwide because hey, global problems need global comfort.
Without further ado. For my first entry in the All-Comfort Club, let me present a parody and giveaway of THINK OF ENGLAND, a historical and romantical mystery by K.J. Charles! It is a parody so affectionate fun is poked but make no mistake, I loved this book. Also warning: simply masses of spoilers.
CURTIS: I, Archie Curtis, formerly of His Majesty’s armed forces, have received a mysterious warning about treason and must now investigate at a remote country manor!
CURTIS: Treason is absolutely not cricket.
CURTIS: It’s like the anti-cricket.
CURTIS: So good of you to have me in your ultra-luxurious home, Lady Armstrong.
LADY ARMSTRONG: A pleasure.
CURTIS (aside): One does not like to SNEAK ABOUT but also one’s life is empty, due to the treasonous sabotage of my weaponry, killing many of my men including my second-in-command, and leaving me missing fingers and with a psychosomatic limp.
LADY ARMSTRONG: A what.
CURTIS: In my left knee, don’t you know!
CURTIS: My god this remote country manor has the electricity and flushing toilets
CURTIS: In 1904!!! These people must be billionaires.
CURTIS: I’m making a list of suspects I’ve sneakily titled ‘My List of People I Totally Don’t Suspect.’
CURTIS: So I’ve got ‘Rich Older Head of House, plus Lady Armstrong The Much Younger Wife.’
CURTIS: I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold-digger. Because I am a gentleman.
CURTIS: Also on the list, ‘Feckless Heir to the House and his Cool Sporting Friend,’ ‘Ostentatiously Unhappy Married Couple’, ‘2 ladies known as Frivolous Fenella and Eminently Sensible Pat…’
CURTIS: golly this is quite like one of those jolly detective novels
CURTIS: Except there is no super sexy femme fatale slinking about, a shame I suppose.
CURTIS: though I’ve never been much in the petticoat line. Married to my work I guess. In the army. My work.
CURTIS: And in college I was very focused on boxing.
LADY ARMSTRONG: Let me introduce Mr da Silva.
COOL SPORTING GENTLEMAN: koff koff he’s foreign.
CURTIS: oh my god! This dude is wearing a green flower in his buttonhole! Like Oscar Wilde’s set! You know! This could get…
CURTIS: *swallows in total dread*
DA SILVA: How clever of you to guess, handsome soldier boy, I am a slave to my poetical muse.
CURTIS: This is the worst house party of all time. Of all time!
CURTIS: Also I can’t help but notice his trousers are unnecessarily tight?
CURTIS: IS HE SLINKING!
DA SILVA: *gets snarky in the drawing room*
CURTIS: oh Christ, spare me. Witticisms. We are BRITISH.
COOL SPORTING GENTLEMAN: Agreed. Also I hate the Portuguese.
CURTIS: Wow no. Let’s not stereotype a whole nation. I’m sure many of the Portuguese wear quite loose fitting trousers.
COOL SPORTING GENTLEMAN: Well I happen to think stereotyping whole nations is what being British is all about! But I’m glad we both hate da Silva.
CURTIS: And his trousers.
COOL SPORTING GENTLEMAN: Hadn’t noticed them.
CURTIS: How could you not!
CURTIS: I must stay inside this country manor when the rest of the group go exploring, definitely due to my heroic war wounds and not for sneaky reasons.
DA SILVA: I must also stay indoors because I’m allergic to the outdoors.
CURTIS: sneak sneak sneak—
DA SILVA: Hello what are you doing, you are making so much noise.
CURTIS: Jesus Christ!
DA SILVA: Jesus and I ARE both Jewish.
CURTIS: You’re what!
DA SILVA: I’m not very observant.
DA SILVA: Actually I am very observant, just not in religious matters.
CURTIS: hahah I hate him.
SARAH: hahaha I love him.
DA SILVA: So I see you suspect treasonous goings on in this house.
CURTIS: Wow… no… what makes you think that?
DA SILVA: I’ve just caught you sneaking about in the dead of night with a dark lantern and a skeleton key.
CURTIS: I wanted a glass of water.
DA SILVA: …?
CURTIS: They might lock the water up here! You don’t know!
COOL GENT BRO: hahaha it’s funny Sensible Pat can shoot things.
CURTIS: Why is being an excellent marksman amusing?
SENSIBLE PAT: u can stay.
SENSIBLE PAT: he can choke
CURTIS: Sensible Pat is the kind of woman I should marry except I feel mysteriously disinclined to do that.
SENSIBLE PAT: do u know, I think that’s sensible.
DA SILVA: Listen I think they are doing treason here and also setting up people to blackmail them.
CURTIS: Oh my god so many kinds of not cricket!
CURTIS: I’m starting to think these people don’t know what cricket IS.
DA SILVA: And the waitstaff are constantly trying to seduce us!
CURTIS: Pretty sure that’s just your filthy imagination. All the maidservants do with me is drop stuff a lot and then have to bend and pick it up frequently?
CURTIS: Plus there’s the valet who keeps fluttering his eyelashes and asking if I need any help at all.
CURTIS: Basically the staff are very polite but possibly clumsy and get things in their eyes a lot.
DA SILVA: … I just don’t know if you’re the ideal person to unravel a mystery?
CURTIS: Why would you say that?
GANG OF SUSPICIOUS SERVITORS: Ho ho what’s this, are you two fellows sneaking?
CURTIS: Er… no.
DA SILVA: Yes totally.
DA SILVA: For reasons.
DA SILVA: I must now execute a slick professional spy move known as the Fake-Out Make-Out.
DA SILVA: As you can see, henchmen, I mean, servitors, nothing to see here.
DA SILVA: I mean, plenty to see here, including my nipple ring.
DA SILVA: And that my milkshake brings all the boys to the (court or stable) yard.
DA SILVA: Anyway please go away, there’s good chaps. Because I could teach you. But I’d have to charge. And I don’t think people on henchman salary can afford me.
CURTIS: Whoa. Whoa. So that just happened.
DA SILVA: Yes, OK, look, don’t hit me, or if you must not the face—
CURTIS: That was certainly the first time I have been kissed in the face by a dude.
DA SILVA: It was an emergen–
CURTIS: That was jolly good thinking.
CURTIS: Way to have a cool head in a crisis, my guy!
DA SILVA: Huh.
CURTIS: Wow you are amazing at sneaking.
DA SILVA: Not because I’m an unflusterable, imperturbable and irresistibly sexy spy for His Majesty’s Secret Service, that’s for sure.
CURTIS: Right. Jolly good.
DA SILVA: No, listen, I am actually an unflusterable, imperturbable secret agent.
CURTIS: Oooh, that was very sneaky of you just now.
DA SILVA: I have a phobia of enclosed, particularly subterranean spaces, which I’m sure won’t be narratively inconvenient.
LADY ARMSTRONG: How jolly, we have some caves nearby called the Caves of Inevitable Narrative Doom? I’m not sure why they’re called that.
COOL SPORTING BROS: haha da Silva is a coward.
CURTIS: Wow that is no way to talk about someone who is nobly sneaking and kissing dudes in the face for his COUNTRY!
CURTIS: You know, I’m starting to think many members of the British aristocracy are unpleasantly prejudiced!
DA SILVA, SENSIBLE PAT & FRIVOLOUS FENELLA: this is brand new information.
CURTIS: So, uh, about the scandalous encounters–
DA SILVA: Sigh, is this about you feeling unmanly?
CURTIS: well of course I do!
DA SILVA: Right, I was afraid of–
CURTIS: —due to my war wounds.
CURTIS: Not sure why you’d bring them up.
CURTIS: Pretty hurtful if u ask me.
DA SILVA: Listen we should talk about getting hold of the blackmail materials.
CURTIS: Hey, I’ve been reading your poetry and I have insightful thoughts about it.
DA SILVA: Aloof, unavailable ice spy… aloof, unavailable ice spy…
FRIVOLOUS FENELLA: I think Mr da Silva is hilarious and also cute.
CURTIS: I guess da Silva is OK if one likes the ravishingly handsome type.
FRIVOLOUS FENELLA: oh I see.
CURTIS: Wait, does His Majesty force you to–!!
DA SILVA: Oh gosh no, I’m very into dudes.
CURTIS: –write poetry!
DA SILVA: No I do that voluntarily.
CURTIS: So wow, these, um, necessary for sneaking purposes manly encounters keep happening and I’m starting to feel weird about that…
DA SILVA: Come now I’m sure you played the fool at Eton
CURTIS: Oh well, doesn’t every chap. Yes, great point.
DA SILVA: Yes yes. There there. Very usual. No need to grab the smelling salts.
CURTIS: And then of course there were the dozens of chaps at university!
DA SILVA: Perfectly–hang on just a…
CURTIS: Come to think of it, my second-in-command was my CWB
DA SILVA: your. Your what now…
CURTIS: Comrade With Benefits?
DA SILVA: this would be the chap you’re hellbent on revenge for?
CURTIS: Wow I can’t believe my second-in-command was my BOYFRIEND?
DA SILVA: My head is spinning a little, maybe from the whiplash…
CURTIS: And I can’t believe you and I are now IN LOVE!
DA SILVA: OK this is an emergency, where are those smelling salts!
DA SILVA: *gets snarky in the drawing room*
CURTIS: LOL, my boyfriend is hilarious.
CURTIS: I don’t mean to offend or presume but could we possibly progress to more intimacy?
DA SILVA: I would be delighted.
CURTIS: Huzzah, so I may call you by your Christian name.
DA SILVA: Um. WHAT.
CURTIS: Awfully sorry, didn’t mean to disrespect your identity (shyly) Daniel.
DA SILVA: No, but… but wait…
CAVES: in here you can hear the echo of narrative inevitability.
SPORTING GENTLEMAN: Would you rather DA SILVA was here exploring the caves with you? I’m making an insinuation here!
CURTIS: What do you mean?
CURTIS: Obviously I would rather da Silva was here because then we’d be on a super romantic cave date?
SPORTING GENTLEMAN: uh
CURTIS: Please keep up.
EVILDOERS: are revealed but I am not some sort of varlet who would actually spoil the mystery, you have to read to find out the identity of the evildoers, their evildoing has many layers!
EVILDOERS: Among our recent evil deeds was tying up a da Silva in distress and leave him on the traintracks!
EVILDOERS: correction. In the caves. Daniel in the lion’s den.
EVILDOERS: clarification. There are no lions in the caves.
DA SILVA: I am feeling perturbed.
CURTIS: I have come to your rescue my cherished Daniel!
EVILDOER: mwhahaha, you THOUGHT.
EVILDOER: mwhahaha, your good hand is maimed and you cannot put up a fight!
CURTIS: As a gentleman I hate to admit this, but… I am left-handed?
CURTIS: and, this is very embarrassing but, I have these berserker killing rages…?
DA SILVA: omfg
CURTIS: I am so sorry that frightful bounder interrupted our special moment.
CURTIS: Well, I have snapped his neck like a twig and thrown him into a bottomless abyss, which I fancy shall be a lesson to him!
CURTIS: If only I could reach my uncle Maurice, who is a master spymaster, via the telephone without being found out… if only I knew a skilled operator.
FRIVOLOUS FENELLA: hey remember how we were talking about how stereotypes are dumb earlier?
CURTIS: Yes ma’am?
CURTIS: oh I see.
CURTIS: Help is on the way!
DA SILVA: I’m stunned to report… you’re my hero?
CURTIS: would it be awfully forward—would you think it frightful cheek–
DA SILVA: oh PLEASE go on…
CURTIS: Could I tenderly touch your face, and call upon you for tea in the city?
DA SILVA: I seriously can’t deal with this.
EVILDOERS: are unmasked but have our heroes cornered!
DA SILVA: I shall now, as a pacifist who is smarter than everybody, kill several people via a battle of wits.
SENSIBLE PAT AND FRIVOLOUS FENELLA: We are helping!
CURTIS: You are also engaging in a battle of wits?
SENSIBLE PAT AND FRIVOLOUS FENELLA: oh lord no, we brought guns.
SPYMASTER UNCLE MAURICE: Well done Curtis.
CURTIS: For killing a bunch of people?
SPYMASTER UNCLE MAURICE: And putting up with da Silva for like three days, wow, it’s more than most of his partners manage.
CURTIS: Are they intimidated by his cleverness and great beauty?
SPYMASTER UNCLE MAURICE: No they find him absolutely overwhelmingly annoyi—hmmm.
SPYMASTER UNCLE MAURICE: Curtis, my boy, have I got a job for you!
DA SILVA: Curtis why are you here at my garret in bohemian London, surely by now you have thought better of your folly and discarded me like a soiled glove–
CURTIS: Hello my darling! What are your thoughts on office romance!!!
DA SILVA: I must confess myself slightly flustered.
I selected this as an almost guaranteed feel-good read, and I hope you guys enjoyed the summary and will enjoy the book. Let me know if you would like to win it! Proper English, the prequel starring Sensible Pat and Frivolous Fenella, is also highly recommended.
Until next time, my doves.
Ahahaha Think of England is one of my fave romance books, and this is a perfect parody!
ahhh i actually bought this a couple days ago when you recommended it on twitter and immediately read it (one of the few things i’ve been able to finish), and thank you for this hilarious parody [to force friends to read it or the book first? that’s the question] and this club!
also maybe now is a good time to comment that I also read the Changeover and Cotillion because of you and i think of/read them (and your own books!) all the time so just in general please do keep recommending things bc they’re very excellent suggestions!
Thank you so much for your trust in me! I shall do my best to not let you down!
I LOVED THIS. And I’d forgotten about this book and I shall go and reread it now.
Jasmine Stairs says
Oh goodness, I’m excited for this book club (and to read this book, which has now moved to my TBR list).
Aw, I love your parody/recap! Think of England is one of my favourite books and you summed it up pretty well. 😂
I am so excited for a comfort-reads book club! I read Think of England this weekend on your recommendation and it was absolutely delightful. I always enjoy romances that a steadfast golden-retriever type with someone witty, complex and highly strung – like In Other Lands.
I request all the parodies!! K-dramas, the rest of the 100 are my first requests but really anything!!
Oho, I have been watching King: the Eternal Monarch…
Thank you so much for this!!!! Reading anything you write brings me comfort and joy, but because I am a greedy creature: I have two requests (I am ashamed of how much I want ;_; but I want it so muuuch). 1. a pay what you want short story (that maybe one day will blossom into a novel? because I have endless greed for your words. I can’t send you cookies, especially during this time, but would like to pay for you to get your own cookies.) 2. For you to read Founder of Diabolism or watch the Untamed (the tv adaptation) and tell us your thoughts on it. I feel like first wave was anime, 2nd wave was kdrama, and now a 3rd wave is beginning to develop for cnovels and related works. But also this is a book/tv show with angst, ghosts, an unrepentant, misunderstood, heart of gold, scary as fuck, weasel of a main character and a stoic softie who loves him.
I have been thinking about watching the Untamed. I’ll try to get to it quick!
I love kj charles with a love that dare not speak its name, but Wanted, A Gentleman is EVEN BETTER what with the regency lonelyhearts and the horror of being rural places. Oh and henchmen of zenda, that one i kept urging friends to read and none of them would, drat.
How did I miss this?!
Great book, great parody. LMAO.
XO from NY