Final Weekend of the Sale!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Just a reminder that The Landowner’s Secret is $1.99 in Australia and New Zealand until the end of this weekend.

Kindle Australia

Kobo Australia

Kobo New Zealand

Read the first two chapters.

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

Florence Foster Jenkins

I randomly came across this movie when it was on free to air TV a couple of weeks ago, and it was amazing. Based on the life of a real person – and I actually looked up the real woman and was happy to see how historically accurate the movie is – Florence Foster Jenkins tells the story of a Gilded Age New York socialite who, near the end of her life, decides she has what it takes to become a famous opera singer.

The problem? She can’t sing to save herself. She becomes infamous rather than famous.

This is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. You laugh and laugh … and then suddenly you’re crying because it really is a tragic story.

Meryl Streep actually trained as an opera singer (something I just learnt), and – much like the character of Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera – in order to sing badly, you first have to learn to sing properly.

The real woman really was an appalling singer, and because she paid to have records of her voice made, you can listen to her even now. She’s even worse than in the movie.

The costumes in this movie are worth your time alone.

Streep was ROBBED of the Oscar for this performance (it went to La La Land that year), and both Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg (who is most famous as a sitcom actor, but who is actually a trained concert pianist) were nominated for Golden Globes for their parts. They’re both brilliant, too.

I’m so glad I stumbled across this.

How not to offend millions of people.

In things I can’t believe I’m typing this morning …

A reminder: the hammer and sickle/the Soviet Union represents evil.

After a “cutesy” episode of Australian Story on the ABC, in which a bunch of Anglo Australians waved a communist flag around and did a “retro kitsch” tribute to Stalinist Russia, in which modern-day Russia was discussed as if it – and Putin memes = cute …

The hammer and sickle flag is illegal in much of the former USSR, right alongside the swastika. It’s illegal because it represents the genocides of the Ukrainian and Kazakh people, the total ethnic cleansing of the native people of Crimea, the deportation of the people of western Ukraine (including everyone in my family’s villages) to Siberian gulags, the deportation of tens of thousands of people from the Baltics, too.

It’s illegal because it represents Russian colonialism and the suppression or elimination of other racial and ethnic groups’ languages and cultures. Because it represents a century of mass murder and horror.

It is now an ideology Putin is using in his invasions of Georgia (which began in 2008, and is ongoing) and Ukraine (started in 2014, and ongoing).

I can’t believe this is something I have to explain, but – to my own horror – Australian author after Australian author shared the story yesterday, all with a comment to the effect of “look at this happy, good news story!”.

To wave that flag around without a care in the world is hurtful and harmful to the non-Russian people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This is something we just went through with My Kitchen Rules, when they pulled their “cutesy Stalin and Putin” retro communist ad.

Do better, people. There’s no excuse to not know that Soviet Russia was as evil and genocidal as Nazi Germany was.

May 1940

May 1940 General Maurice Gamelin, Commander in Chief of the French Army, reviews Canadian troops at Aldershot, England shortly before the Dunkirk evacuation. Second world War Two

May 1940: General Maurice Gamelin, Commander in Chief of the French Army, reviews Canadian troops at Aldershot, England shortly before the Dunkirk evacuation.

Second World War.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

The Landowner’s Secret is still only $1.99!

Just a reminder that readers in Australia and New Zealand can buy The Landowner’s Secret (Brindabella Secrets book #1) for only $1.99 on Kindle and Kobo (AU/NZ) until the end of the month!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Read the first two chapters.

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

On this day…

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, Leader of the Women’s Suffragette movement, is arrested outside Buckingham Palace while trying to present a petition to King George V.

The Imperial War Museum dates this photograph as the 21st of May, 1914.

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, Leader of the Women's Suffragette movement, is arrested outside Buckingham Palace while trying to present a petition to King George V in May 1914. 21 May 1914

Documenting the Pandemic

I’m sure that many other places around the world are doing a similar thing – and it would be worth checking out – but here in Canberra the ACT Heritage Library has put out a call for submissions to help correctly document this point in history.

Because we live in an online world now, we’re in danger of losing records of life during the pandemic. History that’s written in books so often misses the human element.

The library is asking for (both paper and digital):

photographs
written works such as diaries and recollections
ephemera such as posters, flyers and mail-outs
audio recordings such as oral histories and, recorded recollections
video such as video journals, short films, and digital stories

You can find email and mail addresses HERE.

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

The Landowner's Secret and The Artist's Secret by Sonya Heaney Brindabella Secrets Series Covers

Thanks to Nichole Overall, an author and historian of the Canberra and Queanbeyan region, I’ve finally seen a Victorian-era photograph of The Dog and Stile, the pub that is in the background of my Brindabella Secrets series (book one is currently on sale for $1.99 for readers in Australia and New Zealand!).

The Dog & Stile Inn of 1841, oldest surviving building in Queanbeyan (officially that's The Oaks of 1838 in Oaks Estate, now Canberra), on Macquoid St (named for Supreme Court Sheriff Thomas Macquoid owner of Tuggeranong H

The photograph is from the mid-1800s, and the building still stands in Queanbeyan, New South Wales (but no longer operates as a public house). You can see what it looks like now at the link to Nichole’s account.

On this day: the end of the war

7th May 1945 Two women stand on Saint Catherine Street reading the front page of The Montreal Daily Star. The newspaper announces Germany Quit - signalling the end of the Second World War in Europe.

7th May 1945: Two women stand on Saint Catherine Street, reading the front page of The Montreal Daily Star. The newspaper announces “Germany Quit” – signalling the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Canada declared war on Germany on the 10th of September, 1939.

On this day: the sinking of the Lusitania

British ocean liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat on the 7th of May, 1915, less than a year into the First World War. 1198 out of 1959 people aboard were killed, and the sinking played a big hand in turning international opinion against Germany.

This propaganda poster was released in Britain the same year, in an attempt to recruit men into the Leicestershire Regiment (now the Royal Leicestershire Regiment).

Leicestershire_Regiment_recruiting_poster_1915 Recruiting poster for the Leicestershire Regiment Men Of Leicestershire. Avenge The Lusitania. How To Do It Britain First World War One