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Victorian England

Tuesday News: Authors United insult just about everyone, Robin Thicke’s deposition disaster, LEGO’s gender trouble, and portraits of Black Victorians

Tuesday News: Authors United insult just about everyone, Robin Thicke’s deposition...

Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler. We all appreciate discounted razor blades and cheaper shoes. But books are not consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to China. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers. This is the process Amazon is obstructing.

. . . traditional publishing houses perform a vital role in our society. Publishers provide venture capital for ideas. They advance money to authors, giving them the time and freedom to write their books. This system is especially important for nonfiction writers, who often must travel for research. Thousands of times every year, publishers take a chance on unknown authors and advance them money solely on the basis of an idea. By assuming the risk, publishers expect—and receive—a financial return. What will Amazon replace this process with? How, in the Amazon model, will a young author get funding to pursue a promising idea? And what about the role of editors, copy editors, and other publishing staff who ensure that what ultimately ends up on the shelf is both worthy and accurate? –Authors United

The transcripts of the depositions don’t necessarily refute the plaintiffs’ contention in their own summary judgment motion that “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” are not substantially similar for purposes of a copyright analysis, but on the road to a trial that is currently scheduled for February 10, 2015, the Gayes believe they have ammunition to destroy the plaintiffs’ credibility and honor.

“Thicke, for his part, now claims he made all of his statements while drunk or on drugs, none of them true, and he mentioned Marvin Gaye only to sell records,” states the counter-claimants’ court papers. “He also actually testified that he is not an honest person. This complete contempt for the judicial system, and their obligations to tell the truth, can best be summed up by Thicke’s ultimate admission, while under oath, that he ‘[does not] give a f—k’ about this litigation.” –Hollywood Reporter

Family-owned LEGO toys used to be staunchly gender neutral – as self-professed Lego geek David Pickett exhaustively demonstrates. The early advertisements featured both boys and girls playing with identical toys. When minifigs were first introduced in the late 70s – the era of androngyny – gender was downplayed, and the 80s were a golden age for the company. But between the late ‘80s and early ‘00s, the company launched a stream of product lines aimed at girls, none particularly successful and most heavily anchored in pink. These weren’t toys that boys and girls could play with – the company was now making one set of toys for boys (which were often more interesting and challenging to build) and one set of pink, simplified products for girls, including a jewelry line and dollhouses. As Pickett points out, many of these pieces weren’t even compatible with the majority of Legos (i.e., the boy Legos) – and interchangeability is the whole value proposition of the Lego system. –Harvard Business Review Blog

Fittingly, the exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Stuart Hall, the influential left-wing cultural theorist who died this year, and whose writings underpin The Missing Chapter project. “They are here because you were there,” he wrote of the black British people whose experience he illuminated. “There is an umbilical connection. There is no understanding Englishness without understanding its imperial and colonial dimensions.” The excavated images in Black Chronicles II provide a crucial and, until now, overlooked way of further understanding that complex connection. –The Guardian

REVIEW:  Redemption of the Duke by Gayle Callen

REVIEW: Redemption of the Duke by Gayle Callen


Dear Ms. Callen,

Redemption of the Duke was a good, solid read for me. While I’ve gone through a handful of your books, I had not read the other two in this series. I’ll probably pick them up soon, having enjoyed this one.

It was a shaky start, with a couple pages of blatant exposition, but it improved soon enough. Regarding the plot itself, you used none of my favorite tropes, but it still grabbed my attention continually. I don’t drift towards lady’s companion plots, mostly because I’m not huge on down-on-your-luck heroines. However, yours had a solid perspective on her experiences and wasn’t a blushing maiden afraid of her body. Thank you for sparing me that headache.

It’s also hard for me to build enthusiasm about one more duke in a sea of dukes. And don’t get me started on all the rakes; the romance genre could open a gardening store. It would be a very good-looking one with a number of interesting products for perusal, and an enormous section at the front called ‘Dukes’. Walking through the store, one would be like, “Seen it. Seen it. Got twelve at home. Ugh, they’re still producing that one? But it’s so cheap and it never lasts. They’re charging money for it?” It’d be a fun store to visit but very hard to find the right rake to bring home with you to…help maintain your…garden.

Although at first glance, it didn’t seem my type of romance, what caught my eye about your rake and made me want to read this novel was that he was trying not to be one anymore. Very soon into the book, I recognized his true effort to maintain the image of a mature adult in the face of his wild youth. He wanted others to realize he wasn’t the same person. Usually, you enter a novel with the hero at the height of dissipation. He meets the heroine, who changes him for the better, because god forbid the hero be able to change without the aid of a good woman guiding his morality. It was refreshing to see a man who was genuinely past his excessive days from the start of the novel. Adam longed for a more substantial life and wished others believed his sincerity.

Then with a sigh, Sophia rested her head against his shoulder. “I hear others talking about you.”
“Still eavesdropping?” he teased.
“How can it be eavesdropping when they’re speaking in normal tones? But I am not the only one who noticed the change in my big brother when he returned home from India. They keep asking when the real Adam will return.”
“Never,” he said simply.
“I don’t know about that. I’m not sure you’ve quite found the real Adam.”

The duke made a legitimate mistake in war and Faith’s brother died. Nothing was hidden. There were no misunderstandings. He was honest about it and no hidden truths gave the situation a more noble light afterward. No, it happened. He screwed up and it was ugly and Faith suffered, and he knew it. He kept wishing he could reconcile things with Faith because of his guilt, but he didn’t go overboard.

I didn’t like Faith as much as Adam because I saw her as sort of a doormat. She let others take liberties with her all the time and just passively withstood it: her former employers, her childhood friend, and even people who didn’t want to take advantage of her. She nearly encouraged it. I can’t stand a heroine who lets everyone walk all over her, as though it’s her due. I’m unable to respect it. Of course, she finally snaps with the duke, and I did value that change in her. I just thought it took too long to manifest and would have appreciated her realizing that he brings this out in her: the will to stand up for herself. That is powerful and I think it could have been delved into more deeply.

I saw the care you took in all your characters, neatly packing each one with flaws and virtues. It’s a subtle crafting, and I couldn’t help but be interested by every single character. The antagonists had curious, redeemable traits, and I enjoyed the mystery of the main antagonist’s hidden identity more than I thought I would, considering I usually don’t care for these evil mastermind schemes. It just made sense this time and the red herrings were well-played.

I loved the tension inherent in the situation you wove for Adam. He wants to be seen as mature and responsible. He tries so hard to honor Faith’s brother’s memory and respect Faith herself, as well as her position as his aunt’s companion. He is drawn to her. Not artificially drawn to her, like in some novels, where you’re supposed to nod and go along the supposed claims of foolish, besotted foolishness. No, he’s genuinely infatuated with her, and dislikes it. These are real, significant stakes at play. It’s a true man vs. self struggle, because if he takes advantage of the lady’s companion in his household, it means he hasn’t changed nearly as much as he hoped he had, and everyone is right in their assumption of his decadent reputationexcept it won’t be based merely on past actions if he gives in now. His claims of change would be invalidated. And all the same, he must see her again, because she lifts that darkness inside him and makes him feel almost normal. I can understand exactly why he falls for her.

It’s a no-brainer why she falls for him as well. I honestly couldn’t find one thing I disliked about Adam as a character. He was kind and struggling and fiercely protective. He held a nightmare inside of him and wanted to shelter everyone else from it. He was good and fair with people who were not good and fair with him, as though he hoped, deep down, that someday they would like him. He was vulnerable but acted in strength. I wanted to hug him and tell him it’s okay, that he’s a good man and he’s worthy of Faith and of his station, and he can have both and still be good.

Thank you for giving me this experience with your hero. He was the highlight of a carefully-written novel. I was never blown away, but I was continually engaged. It’s a respectable entry in your repertoire and I’m glad to have read it.

Best regards,

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