This first challenge has two parts. You may do both parts or just one. Your choice.
For this challenge you will:
1. Firstly share a paragraph from a novel, or an extract from a poem, or a photograph that stopped your heart with a spectacular setting etc.
2. Describe how your chosen 'setting' spoke to you. Why did you like it?
3. Then you have the option to:
a) write your own 'setting' piece in any genre, or share a ‘setting’ from your WIP, or…
b) write your own poem which highlights 'setting', or
c) share a photograph that blows you away every time you look at it and tell us why.
d) share an artwork that shows a 'setting' you love and tell us why you love it.
e) write a small playscript which highlights 'setting'.
I chose the opening of Hilary Mantel's Bringing Up the Bodies.
Wiltshire, September 1535
His children are falling from the sky. He watches from horseback, acres of England stretching behind him; they drop, gilt-winged, each with a blood-filled gaze. Grace Cromwell hovers in thin air. She is silent when she takes her prey, silent as she glides to his fist. But the sounds she makes then, the rustle of feathers and the creak, the sigh and riffle of pinion, the small cluck-cluck from her throat, these are sounds of recognition, intimate, daughterly, almost disapproving. Her breast is gore-streaked and flesh clings to her claws.
Later, Henry will say, `Your girls flew well today.' The hawk Anne Cromwell bounces on the glove of Rafe Sadler, who rides by the king in easy conversation. They are tired; the sun is declining, and they ride back to Wolf Hall with the reins slack on the necks of their mounts. Tomorrow his wife and two sisters will go out. These dead women, their bones long sunk in London clay, are now transmigrated. Weightless, they glide on the upper currents of the air. They pity no one. They answer to no one. Their lives are simple. When they look down, they see nothing but their prey, and the borrowed plumes of the hunters: they see a flittering, flinching universe, a universe filled with their dinner.
I enjoy historical fiction. Thomas Cromwell was a very complex character, a man from a humble background, abused by his father, who became a self-made man and Henry VIII's henchman. Henry could not have been a successful king without him. Yet Mandel also paints a portrait of a man who loved children, his own and many others that he took into his own household. He was fond of his daughters Ann and Grace. He wanted them to have the same education as the young males in his household. In this opening scene, we learn that he has named his hawks for the young daughters and wife he has lost to the "sweating sickness." With Cromwell you come to see a tender, sentimental side juxtaposed against a ferocious side.
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And so for the second part of this challenge, I decided to post a painting I recently completed instead of something written. These two rascals are my grandchildren Jake and Kylie. When they are awake they are hell on wheels, but when they are asleep, well, they come pretty close to angelic. Their dual natures make me reflect back to the dual nature of Cromwell.