Passport England: Author Tasha Alexander on her love affair with London
Tasha Alexander attended the University of Notre Dame, where she signed on as an English major in order to have a legitimate excuse for spending all her time reading. She and her husband, novelist Andrew Grant, divide their time between Chicago and the UK. Her books include the Lady emily mysteries, historical mysteries that take place in Victorian London, and the book Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which became an Academy award winning motion picture.
Her latest book – will be published on October 26th.
Have you ever fallen in love with a place you’ve never been? Read about it, looked at every picture and map you could find, until you’re convinced you know it as well as if you’d been there? And then you plan a trip, and arrive, breathless with anticipation, only to find it’s not quite what you expected?
I was too optimistic to worry about such things the first time I visited London. At sixteen, I was already a confirmed Anglophile. I could pretty much recite Pride and Prejudice on command, had images from Dickens firmly etched in my head, and was bound and determined to walk past The Albany, where Georgette Heyer had lived. I was ready for afternoon tea, Hyde Park and the Jewel House at the Tower, knowing none of them would disappoint me. An adult might have given pause, tried to check her expectations, but not a teenager.
And I’m glad I didn’t check them—because London was even more fabulous than I could have imagined.
|Georgian London Homes|
My family was living in a little mews house near Paddington Station, a perfect base for exploring the city. I wandered past ethnic restaurants in Queensway, the red doors of Bloomsbury, and the gracious houses of Mayfair. I took my little brother to the H.M.S. Belfast (conveniently close to the aforementioned Jewel House), gazed upon the noble edifices of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s, and browsed every inch of Fortnum and Mason. I fell in mad love with the museums: The National Gallery, The Tate, and most of all, The British Museum.
In subsequent years, I’ve come to know London better. I lived there as a student, and now am fortunate to spend about a third of my time in the UK as a result of having married a dashing English gentleman (I highly recommend finding one of your own—the accent never gets old) who loves West End theatre as much as I do. I couldn’t be happier with my second home, although I wouldn’t object to a little less cold rain in the summer. I love meat pies, Cornish pasties, scampi and chips, cider on draft, Hobnobs, and scones with clotted cream. LOTS of clotted cream.
|National Gallery, Trafalgar Sq.|
This summer, I was back in London doing book research—it’s no surprise to anyone who’s known me for more then fifteen minutes that I’d gravitated to a career that involved writing about an English protagonist—and I found that little mews house near Paddington (which wasn’t so easy as it might have been if I’d been able to remember the name of the street!). It was a moving experience to return to the place that had confirmed the love I already had for London, a city that doesn’t disappoint. If only all expectations could be so pleasantly met and exceeded…
The Dolls would like to thank Tasha for sharing her London experiences – and making us extremely hungry. *mmmm clotted cream*
Tasha’s latest book will be out on October 26th – you can read Noa’s review right
For more about Tasha Alexander and her books visit her Website