Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Thursday, October 05, 2006

No egg on my face

I got back from a long weekend in Normandy on Monday, where I'd been researching locations for some scenes in my adult novel. Actually technically we (I took Rhiannon with me as researcher and consultant) were in Brittany, staying on the Mont St. Michel. But the point of the trip was too explore Genets, a village which IS in Normandy, from which you can walk across the treacherous sands to MSM at low tide. But not without a guide, since there are quicksands.

We took the night boat from Portsmouth to St Malo, sleeping in a dear little cabin. Then a coach to MSM, with one change. We were staying at one of only a handful of hotels on the island, which is famous for having famous guests (like Margaret Thatcher!) and for making omelettes. Day and night it seemed whenever we passed out of the front door next to the restaurant, we heard the sound of chefs whisking eggs in their copper bowls to produce these notoriously fluffy and substantial items.

Trouble is, we are both vegetarians and Rhiannon doesn't even eat eggs. This was quite a serious problem since we were marooned on the island for 3 days and nights and even the hotel breakfast wasn't that nice and was quite expensive. So we scrutinised the menus of the 5 or 6 hotels there were there and managed to just about find things we could eat. France is impossibly difficult for vegetarians anyway and an island even more so - Italy is much easier.

We did the trip to Genets (bus, train, taxi, taxi, train, taxi), relying on my schoolgirl French (Rhi did German and Latin), with much interference from Italian. Only to find it wouldn't work, because although there were indeed sands, there was no resort. So I'm going to invent a composite village. But at least people won't then write and complain. And it was useful to see the local church and war memorial and collect surnames.

We didn't do the walk across the sands - fortunately as it turned out, since the warm sunny day disappeared and was replaced by cold and rain. But the views of the mount were indeed fantastic.

Rhiannon read my novel typescript and we had a very good session on it; she is an excellent reader. I have come back all fired up about it but have had to lay it aside to proofread the page proofs of The Falconer's Knot and make some yet more corrections. I bought a tapestry on MSM with a young nobleman hawking. I hope it isn't naff.

My e-mail problem, which lasted all through September, was solved just before we went away. It took very many phone calls, five or six engineers in India, a case-conference and consultations with the USA but it is now done. I fear I may have lost some e-mails along the way though.

But not the ones from girls at the same school in California whose lovely, intelligent, detailed praise of the Stravaganza series is rather marred by asking for a signed copy of City of Flowers at the end! I shall have to disappoint them, I'm afraid.