Today Im so thrilled to have Elizabeth Loupas here at the blog. Today she will be sharing inspiration behind her latest novel The Flower Reader. There will also be a chance for you to win a copy of this lovely book.
The Silver Casket
by Elizabeth Loupas 2012
It started with a silver casket—and in fact, one of my early working titles for The Flower Reader was The Silver Casket. I’ve always been fascinated by anything to do with Mary, Queen of Scots, and long ago I came across a photograph of the lovely silver casket in the Mary Stuart collection at Lennoxlove House in East Lothian. Is it really the casket that contained the infamous Casket Letters, which destroyed Mary Stuart’s reputation, condemned her to imprisonment and ultimately to death? Well, it does have a long and suggestive history.
The Casket Letters themselves disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared in the first place (and one could write whole books, which several people have, about the Casket Letters), but supposedly the casket itself ended up in the hands of Mary Gordon, the wife of the first Marquess of Douglas. This is not my Màiri Gordon, although how I would love to pretend that it was! This Mary Gordon was the great-granddaughter of George Gordon, the great Earl of Huntly, who meets such an untimely death (and suffers a grisly postmortem trial) in the story; supposed she purchased it from an unnamed Catholic sympathizer. After her death the casket and other valuables were sold, and later her daughter-in-law Anne Hamilton, the third Duchess of Hamilton, bought them back. Today the casket is part of the collection of priceless artifacts at Lennoxlove, the present-day seat of the Dukes of Hamilton. Is it truly the casket that contained the Casket Letters? It’s about the right size, and apparently of French workmanship of about the right period, but no one can be absolutely certain.
Certain or not, I was enraptured. I love artifacts from history, objects historical personages have actually owned and touched. I began to wonder—where did the casket come from? How did it come into Mary’s possession? Who had it before she did, and what else might it have contained? As I wondered, and did more research, and jotted down my thoughts, a story took shape. Characters began to emerge, not only the historical personages--Mary Stuart, her four Maries, her mother Mary of Guise (sometimes it felt as if every woman in Scotland in the mid-sixteenth century was named “Mary” or “Marie”)—but also fictional characters whose lives and relationships I set out to weave into the fabric of the actual history.
All this from a little silver casket about the size of a shoe box! Stories begin with the oddest things sometimes—what small things or historical artifacts can you think of that might grow into a story?
Today thanks to HFV Book Tours I have one brand new copy of The Flower Reader and a special bookmark. To enter please just leave a comment with link to email or profile. This is open to US residents only and winner will be drawn at the end of tour. Following this blog is not required but always appreciated.
Rinette Leslie of Granmuir has the ancient gift of divining the future in flowers, but her gift cannot prepare her for the turmoil that comes when the dying queen regent entrusts her with a casket full of Scotland's darkest secrets. On the very day she means to deliver it to newly crowned Mary, Queen of Scots, Rinette's husband is brutally assassinated.
Devastated, Rinette demands justice before she will surrender the casket, but she is surrounded by ruthless men who will do anything to possess it. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust-and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.