I love Rachel Ferguson’s brilliant novel, The Harp in Lowndes Square, which I wrote about briefly yesterday.
Her sharp observations and witty prose are irresistible. And I love the captivating voice of the narrator, Vere. She has to muster all her humor and stoicism to cope with Lady Vallant, the evil grandmother from hell.
Today I’m writing about Vere’s creative ideas for Christmas stocking stuffers. I wonder if I could find a doll’s tin grand piano on the internet, and I wish I were clever enough to write an original play about Seneca, or any Roman for that matter.
Last summer I reread Seneca’s letters, in preparation for reading Peter Stothard’s excellent book, The Senecans: Four Men and Margaret Thatcher. I even dusted off my old Roman Letters notes. So when Vere gives her actor friend, Cosmo Furnival, a satiric two-minute tragedy she has written about Seneca, I could not but laugh.
Here is her complete list of stocking stuffers:
I had filled stockings for them both; in Enid’s, a mass of tiny sparkling silliments including a celluloid goldfish in a talc ball and a doll’s tin grand piano; in Cosmo’s, a property monocle of window glass to which I had attached six yards of watered silk ribbon, and a tiny booklet I had made and written, containing a tragedy in verse called Seneca, which consisted largely of the direction, Another and more expensive part of the Forum: Enter Cosmo Furnival as Seneca, and whose concluding lines ran:
Bleed, wrist! and free my spirit from its chains,
Rome take my blood that gushes from these veins.
And you might as well add Ferguson ‘s A Harp in Lowndes Square to your gift list.
I hope you’re all inspired!