Announcing Live Chat Night with Gillian Bagwell, author of The Darling Strumpet!!

Welcome everyone!!!

Passages to the Past is so thrilled to have Gillian Bagwell, author of The Darling Strumpet, here for Live Chat Night!  She has graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to stop by and answer a few questions for us...thanks Gillian!


Here's how Chat Night will work:

All corresponding (questions and answers) will take place in the comments section of the this post.  I will start off the Chat Night with a welcome message and a question or two to get the ball rolling and then the floor is open to whomever has a question for Gillian.  

If you have a question or even a comment on another question or Gillian's response, just enter it into the comment box.  For an example, please check out the past 2 live chats that were hosted at PTTP:  Sourcebooks Summer Reading Club Book Chat Night  or  Live Chat with Susan Holloway Scott.

About the book:

SYNOPSIS:  A thrilling debut novel starring one of history's most famous and beloved courtesans.

From London's slums to its bawdy playhouses, The Darling Strumpet transports the reader to the tumultuous world of seventeenth-century England, charting the meteoric rise of the dazzling Nell Gwynn, who captivates the heart of King Charles II-and becomes one of the century's most famous courtesans.

Witty and beautiful, Nell was born into poverty but is drawn into the enthralling world of the theater, where her saucy humor and sensuous charm earn her a place in the King's Company. As one of the first actresses in the newly-opened playhouses, she catapults to fame, winning the affection of legions of fans-and the heart of the most powerful man in all of England, the King himself. Surrendering herself to Charles, Nell will be forced to maneuver the ruthless and shifting allegiances of the royal court-and discover a world of decadence and passion she never imagined possible.

If you run into any issues while Chat Night is in progress you can always email me directly or find me on gmail chat during the Chat and I will get back to you ASAP.

passages to the past at gmail dot com

Thanks everyone, we are so glad you could make it and I hope you have a blast!




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90 comments:

  1. Good evening all! I'd like to thank Gillian again for spending some time with us tonight!

    I'll start of the festivities with a question of my own!

    Gillian, what was it about Nell Gwynn that inspired you to write The Darling Strumpet?

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  2. Gillian,

    What is the most surprising thing you learned about Nell and her relationship with Charles while researching this book?

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  3. Hello! I'll let Gillian answer the first two questions before chiming in with anything new. :)

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  4. Thanks so much for having me, Amy! I first got interested in Nell many years ago with the idea of writing a one-woman show for myself.

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  5. Good evening Gillian and Amy ;) and the rest of the attendees!

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  6. oops - I'm coming across as anonymous - it's Gillian - will have to figure this out!!

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  7. Hi, Sadie,

    Well, I don't know if it was surprising, but it was sweet to know how much Nell really cared about Charles and vice versa.

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  8. Sorry to be slow - for some reason having difficulties - having to sign each time I respond!

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  9. One of the only letters existing from Nell was to James II right after Charles's death - she said "he was my friend and allowed me to tell him all my troubles."

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  10. Don't know much about Nell other than her theater career...did she ever have any children and were any of them by Charles?

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  11. I've read several books on Nell and Charles and that has always come across to me...their mutual love for each other. It seems that Nell provided a safe (and drama free) world for Charles to escape to and no matter how many women he was with, he always came back to Nell. That say's something!

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  12. That is amazing... it makes Charles seem so human.

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  13. having technical difficulties...please bear with us!

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  14. Sounds like Nell created the best environment for Charles because she knew she'd never marry him so she never made demands and was "available"...what man wouldn't keep coming back...especially when you give him all of your attention...right...lol

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  15. FYI - Gillian is unable to get on, so I will be posting her responses

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  16. Roberta - Nell and Charles had two children, Charlie, born May 1670, and James, or Jemmy, born Christmas 1671.

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  17. Amy...what became of her boys after Charles died?

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  18. For me the most interesting thing about Nell was her being one of the first actresses on the English stage... Gillian, how did she feel about that? Did she grasp how important it was?

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  19. Roberta - Little Jemmy died at the age of 8 - a tragic blow to her. Charlie was married to Lady Diana De Vere, daughter of the Earl of Oxford. Had an illustrious military career and many children!

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  20. Elizabeth...sounds like she was a good actress on the stage and off ;)

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  21. Thanks Amy...I've only seen the hollywood versions of Charle's life and you can never trust them to be even close to accurate. Really frustrating when the actual historical happenings are so very entertaining just as they were.

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  22. Elizabeth: I don't think she or anyone could have known what a huge step that was. Charles had seen actresses in Europe and liked it. They were a sexy innovation, but I don't think people probably stopped to think how much it would change English theatre.

    A whole new generation of playwrights was writing, and they began writing better parts for women, knowing that not only would women play the parts, but they were writing for specific actresses.

    The noble men in the audience regarded the actresses as a nice pool of potential mistresses.

    And many women left the stage to be kept - long or short-term.

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  23. So not really that much different than the movie business today. :)

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  24. I'm here now. Sorry I'm late.
    The goats....

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  25. When Nell was on stage...were most of the acts...sorta "Vaudvillish"? Yah...now seedy and skampy?

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  26. Elizabeth...the movie business or reality TV ;)

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  27. LOL Roberta! Perhaps she was the Snooki of her day! Although much nicer than Snooki, I'm sure.

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  28. The description of the book says "Nell will be forced to maneuver the ruthless and shifting allegiances of the royal court." What allegiances?

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  29. Roberta - Not vaudeville, really. Early popular plays were the old ones. When theatres reopened only the old plays existed - Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, etc.

    The acting companies started up slowly, using boys for women's parts. Comedies were very popular. As women began acting, the comedies became bawdier in some ways.

    After the height of Nell's career, there was a vogue for very dramatic plays. But they were frequently excuses for the women to be semi-naked, and put into painful and degrading circumstances.

    Sound famiiar? Kind of like the torture porn of today. But in verse!

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  30. I'm lurking - and enjoying. Just wanted to say hello :)

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  31. That was "ewwwwwww" to the torture porn, Virginia, and not to you. :)

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  32. Elizabeth...all of them are "here today and gone tomorrow"...like Paris Hilton!
    Pricilla...they have to go to rehab first then get sober...lol

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  33. Sadie: Nell did provide a safe and comfortable and unpressured atmosphere for Charles.
    Alone of his mistresses, she didn't care about politics and wasn't trying to influence him.

    Louise de Keroualle was more or less in the pay of the French, to influence English policy regarding France. Barbara Palmer was very money-hungry and ambituous to have influence.

    Nell really loved Charles. She must have bit her tongue sometimes when she wanted to complain about other women, but eventually I think she became confident that he wouldn't get rid of her.

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  34. Elizabeth & Roberta - you ladies are killin' me over here :) Snookie....hahahaa

    -Amy

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  35. What I liked about her is that she knew exactly what she was and was - for the most part - comfortable with who and what she was.

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  36. I'm sure that once the audiences grew and the general public was attending, in lieu of the Court and Aristocracy...they had to do some plays that didn't talk in riddles or rhymes so that the general public would be able to understand them as well. Then I'm sure the nudity was a draw like todays gratitous nudity in films and on HBO...yuck!

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  37. Thanks for clarifying, Elizabeth! :p

    And I think Nell might roll over in her grave to be compared to Snooki..hahaha

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  38. Gillian, is it true that Charles' last words as he was dying were "Let not poor Nelly starve"? Because if it is, that shows how much she meant to him.

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  39. YES Pricilla and a confident woman is always an attractive woman ;)

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  40. Roberta: Well, I didn't write the jacket copy :)

    There were allegiances, though. Barbara Palmer, Lady Castlemaine, and her cousin the Duke of Buckingham conspired to bring down Edward Hyde, Charles's long-time councilor.

    There were shifting alliances among the various nobles and factions in Parliament. But really Nell just had to keep things happy and smooth for Charles. She didn't get as much money, not even close, as Barbara and Louise. But she didn't cause him so much trouble. She called Louise the Weeping Willow because she cried when she didn't get her way.

    Barbara was really a maniac. When she had a baby that was almost certainly not Charles's, she shouted at him "God damn me, but you shall own it!" She really wore him out.

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  41. Gillian here....Back to the theatre - Nell and her lover/mentor Charles Hart were so successful in their initial outings together on stage that they became a very popular stage couple.

    Lots of plays written for them - a whole genre of what were called "gay couple" comedies - not gay couples like we mean today!

    But like Beatrice and Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing" - witty, sexy, funny... They love each other but throw barbs at each other. Almost none of the plays that Nell did are well known today.

    Too bad! Someone ought to stage some of them again.

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  42. I wonder at the state of the world that we all know who Snooki is....

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  43. Amy...in the hollywood version they showed Barbara seducing Charle's son to get his favor and alliances...any truth to this?

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  44. Funny how there are always acting couples that resonate for their time.

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  45. (Gillian) Elizabeth: It is true that he said that to the Duke of York, shortly to be James II, very shortly before he died.

    Don't know if literally last words, but very close.

    He really did care about her, and he knew that of all his women her position was the most precarious.

    James listened. He paid off Nell's mortgage on one house, sent her some money immediately, and gave her a pension of 1500 pounds per year. Not as much as what she had had before - 5000 per year officially at times and sometimes much more in extra gifts - but it ensured that she could live comfortably.

    Charles had already given her the outright ownership of her house in Pall Mall - at what is now 79 Pall Mall - and she had Burford House in Windsor.

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  46. (Gillian) Roberta: I think I did read that but I don't recall the details so don't want to say whether it was true or not.

    But she was a wild one. Another incident in that little series - with the yummy Rufus Sewell as Charles... she goes to see the mummified remains of someone - a bishop or pope, I think - and bites off its penis. Apparently that really happened.

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  47. Well Gillian...not a bad ending for a mistress to the King. What about their children then...were they provided for (above and beyond the 1500 pension)?

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  48. (Gillian) Another incident that I put in my book - Charles was headed to her room one morning and found a man coming out...Possibly John Churchill, who later had a very illustrious career, but this was early on, when he was broke.

    And Charles said "I forgive you, for I know you do it for your bread."

    Barbara also took to her bed the rope dancer Jacob Hall, and at one point, Charles Hart, Nell's old lover and acting partner.

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  49. Gillian...own that DVD with Rufus as Charles...and I totally forgot about that part...lol

    btw...just saw Rufus as "Tom Builder" in "Pillars of the Earth"...so good ;)

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  50. One has to wonder how they didn't all end up with syphilis or something

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  51. (Gillian) Roberta: Well, Jemmy was dead. Charlie was given his own household and a substantial allowance of his own at about the age of 13 or so. He became Earl of Burford, and had a number of other titles.

    Some of them carried incomes and benefits. He didn't lack for money.

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  52. Wow...Babs was a real character...are there any books written in her view?

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  53. Roberta, she's a strong secondary character in FOREVER AMBER... that's where I first learned about her, and about Nell, too, for that matter.

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  54. Thanks Gillian...always interesting how "titles" come with incomes and properties. Always find it intersting that back in the day, royalty put on such "airs" with their "bastards". I guess we've progressed...lol

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  55. (Gillian) Roberta: One of Susan Holloway Scott's books is about her, The Royal Harlot.

    She was supposed to have been astonishingly beautiful. I don't think the casting in that miniseries was very good - the actress a bit too old. But from what I've read, think early Elizabeth Taylor. Fair skin, dark hair, violet eyes, voluptuous and tempestuous!

    Samuel Pepys had erotic dreams about her and bought an engraving of one of her portraits. Early pin-up material.

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  56. Thanks Elizabeth...I'll make a note of that one and put it on my reading list ;)

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  57. HI Everyone! Love all the comments and questions. So Gillian, who else in history piques your interest with regards to another novel? Any more mistresses out there? Another time period perhaps?

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  58. Gillian - do you have any advice for wanna be historical fiction writers?

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  59. Amy...I have that book...Royal Harlott...got it last year and haven't read it yet...OMG ;}

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  60. Roberta, AMBER's an oldie... like back in the forties, I think... but it's very very good.

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  61. (Gillian)....Um. Write!

    Seriously. Find something that you feel passionate about. I guess I'm lucky because I've been thinking about Nell for a long time. When I decided to write a novel, this was the one that was clawing to get out. I already knew a lot about her and the period.

    I know that publishers and agents tend to like "marquee" names - at least that's what I hear -

    But I think it would be boring to write yet another novel about Ann Boleyn. I think maybe look for lesser known characters - or invent a fictional one - that interacts with famous people.

    Learn about the period you want to write about. Don't write "faux period" dialogue, or completely anachronistic dialogue.

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  62. Great questions everyone!!!!

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  63. I agree with you Gillian...The Other Boleyn was so much more interesting because it was about Mary and her perspective.

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  64. (Gillian) Jenny: Well, the next project I'm working on - just proposal so far, but I hope to be launching into the real thing soon - is also set in 17th century England.

    I learned about Jane Lane, the heroine of my second book (The September Queen, coming in November) during my research about Nell.

    And similarly, during the research for The September Queen, I learned about some characters and events that I hadn't known much about, which gave me good ideas about what I wanted to write next.

    I don't think I want to specifically look for mistresses. Though as male-centric as history is, it's frequently the mistresses and wives who are who is remembered.

    There were many amazing stories of women on both sides of the English Civil War, who defended their homes and castles against invaders and attackers, and really held down the fort while their men were away.

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  65. In any story involving Charles II, I always feel sorry for poor little Catherine of Braganza.

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  66. (Gillian): I've spent so much time and money researching 17th century England that I'm probably stuck there for a while!

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  67. Gillian - what book first hooked you into the HF genre?

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  68. There's a wonderful (non-fiction) book by Antonia Fraser called THE WEAKER VESSEL, which tells hundreds of stories of women in all walks of life and levels of society in 17th century England. It would be a treasure trove for character ideas.

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  69. Given all that went on I am sure there are many tales to tell.

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  70. Right Elizabeth...I tend to feel sorry for all the wifes...women in general! It's like Fred & Ginger...she had to do everything he did backwards and in heels!

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  71. Gillian...do you have a daily routine when you are writing? Do you start with an outline and fill it in or do you start with a character and build from there?

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  72. (Gillian): I read a lot as a kid. I liked a lot of books about historical periods then that I don't recall the names of, unfortunately.

    Gone With the Wind was a big influence! As it probably was for some of you... Flambards and the subsequent books.

    Several years ago a friend introduced me to Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series, which I love and certainly influenced me. Diana was a big inspiraton - especially when I heard her speak at the Historical Novel Society Conference in 2007. She began writing "Outlander" as a "practice book"!

    Some practice book!

    I've also been influenced by a lot of period movies, etc. Upstairs Downstairs! Anne of the Thousand Days, The Lion in Winter, A Room with a View, Mary Queen of Scots, The Elizabeth R series starring Glenda Jackson many years ago....

    Also I became interested in Shakespeare very early, and was performing at Renaissance Faires and the Dickens Christmas Fair regularly from the age of 13. So putting myself into a historical period, feeling how the clothes feel, etc., always interested me.

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  73. (Gillian) Roberta: For both of my books I have taken the facts that I know about the character and story and first written an outline, basically following guidelines I learned from Syd Field's "Screenplay" books.

    That is, you need some hook that turns you into the second act about a quarter of the way through, and another that puts you into the third act about three quarters of the way through. A mid point and some other "pinch" scenes.

    Figure out what is the high point of the drama, the main confrontation or cathartic moment... Then I write a scene outline - basically a list of the scenes that string those points together. In writing both books I think I wrote what I think of as the "tentpole" scenes first.

    The opening, the turns into the acts, the midpoint, the end. Then I had something to guide me as I was writing the in between scenes.

    But sometimes you don't know what wlll come. I've certainly started writing a scene and had things come out that I didn't know would be there.

    I don't have a specific routine, except to write as much as I can. I'm not a morning person. No 5:30 a.m. writing for me. I'm much more likely to be writing at night than early.

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  74. (Gillian) cont'd: But a good quote I read was something like "I write when I'm inspired. And I make sure that I'm inspired every morning at 9 a.m."

    Just do it, in other words!

    I tell myself that it doesn't have to be good, it just has to be done. Then I can go back and work on it some more.

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  75. Amy here....Okay, that's our time tonight. I would like to thank all of you for stopping by and asking such fantastic questions! And thanks again to Gillian for some awesome answers!

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  76. (Gillian): Thanks so much, Amy!

    This has been very enjoyable - just sorry that technical difficulties prevented me from seeing the comments and questions myself!
    Many great questions and a great idea to do this!

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  77. Thanks Gillian...great information on the outline. I'm the opposite...a morning person...drives my husband nuts ;)

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  78. Thank you, Gillian! Thanks, Amy, for hostessing!

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  79. Thanks Gillian and Amy! Always love these chats. Have a wonderful week everyone. Fondly, Roberta

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  80. Thank you very much. I had fun even though I didn't post much.

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  81. OMG really I did it again, I am the biggest looser ever!!!! I so wanted to be here for this and I am late and now it is over. I am so so SO MAD at myself!

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  82. Oh geez I missed it! I got off late from work and wasn't able to participate. Boo me! Sorry!
    Colleen T.

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  83. Oh no!!!! I came a few hours too late--- I hope you all can forgive me! The chat looks wonderful and I am definitely picking up the book.

    Thank you for hosting this, Amy :)

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