PTA Christmas dinner last night, and daughter #2’s carol service in church this evening, followed by pub with fellow mums and members of the 'Victims of Christmas Support Group'. In my life this is what passes for what, in magazines they call ‘The Party Season.’
Anyway, back to Powerful Italian Penniless Housekeeper, and Tuscany where it’s warm and there are no queues in the supermarket. Looking back at the soundtrack from the book on my ipod I’m reminded of something I probably should have mentioned last time because it occupies such a central place in the story, and that’s the recurring symbol of the moon. This was there from the earliest stages of the idea, when for some reason I decided that Sarah’s five year old daughter would have a bit of a fascination with all things lunar (Long before I started writing the book I scribbled down a couple of lines of dialogue on a dinner money slip while sitting in the school car park . ‘Mummy, when I grow up I want to be an astronaut.’ ‘And I want to be a rich man’s plaything, but life doesn’t always work out how we want it to.’ This made a brief appearance in various chapters at various times but never quite fit properly and so didn’t end up in the final book, but Sarah and Lottie’s characters, and their relationship, were built around it.) When I came to thinking about the film Lorenzo had just completed it made sense to bring the astrological/lunar theme into that as well, and without really thinking too hard it seemed to weave its way into the fabric of the story.
And the music, of course. This is a song with which I became very,very familiar during The Laura Ashley years because it was on one of the compilation CDs they played in a constant loop. I still like it though, and for obvious reasons it definitely needed a place on this playlist. Other astrology/moon related songs were Sleeping Satellite by Tasmin Archer (you can see an orrery in the video, which is something I also put in the book), Moon River (REM rather than Henry Mancini) and Song to the Moon by Dvorak. I used the Katharine Jenkins version, which is in English, and the spirit of which definitely inspired the Venice-at-nighttime part of the book.
Sour Times by Portishead was the first song on the playlist. For me this summed up the bad place Sarah was in at the start of the book, with her seven-year relationship with Lottie’s philandering father at an end and her self-esteem in tatters. I also discovered this beautiful song by Natalie Merchant which I played to death but never got tired of.
The lines ‘I’ve been treated so wrong I’ve been treated so long As if I’m becoming untouchable’ seemed to be very true of Sarah, and the poignant atmosphere of resignation absolutely sums up her outlook on life and her low expectations for her own happiness.
Try a Little Tenderness, by Otis Redding was, I suppose, Lorenzo’s response to that. And it is such a GREAT song.
As the book was about an Italian film director it was a great excuse to listen endlessly to the soundtrack to Cinema Paradiso, one of the best films ever. (Here’s Josh Groban giving the love theme his treatment.) I also admit that the final scene in my book was very much inspired by the ending of the film…
(Although since getting my author copies I’ve spotted a copy-editing error which, to me, totally ruins the big emotional climax! There’s supposed to be a page break in one of the final pages, which balances the pace or something crucial like that and without it it all feels a bit rushed and tensionless. My fault for not going through my proofs carefully enough. Shall have to go into shops and hand-correct as many copies as possible.)
Talking of author copies I have some to give away. As this is a simultaneous release in the US and the UK I have both Presents and Modern editions, so I'm giving away three of each. If you'd like a copy just email me via the website (still not updated, but it's on my list of things to do, after lose a stone, climb Everest and train the daughters to work the dishwasher) with the answer to this question and I'll pick the winners in my usual random fashion:
Which sixteenth century scientist is the subject of Lorenzo's film? *
*(There's a good introduction to him here. Never let it be said this blog isn't educational.)
On that intellectual note I'm going to go drag myself around the supermarket. Did I mention that daughter #1, AKA the Teenage Drama Queen, somehow managed to persuade us to let her have a party? Tomorrow? As if Christmas wasn't stressful enough.