Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hannah Dennison's Deadly Desires in the English Counryside


RHYS: I am so delighted to welcome fellow Brit Hannah Dennison today as I am currently living the life she writes about in her wonderful Honeychurch Hall mystery novels. The beauties and quirks of the English countryside, and to be more specific, the West Country.  Hannah has a new Honeychurch Hall mystery out and will be giving away two copies, so read on:
 
HANNAH DENNISON: “O To Be in England.  Now that April’s here.” Well … it’s actually May, but I think Robert Browning’s “Home Thoughts From Abroad” sums up my feelings perfectly.

After twenty-two years as an ex-pat, I find I’ve become more English rather than less. Perhaps that’s because both my mystery series—The Vicky Hill Mysteries and The Honeychurch Hall Mysteries—are set in Devon. So you could say that physically, although I pen my novels in Oregon where I now live, mentally, I’m always in England.

I’ve never lived in London. In fact, the first taste I had of life in the big city was when I moved Los Angeles way back in 1993. It was a culture shock of such magnitude—rather like my first earthquake—that it needs a post all of it’s own. In a way, writing about England helps cure my acute homesickness especially as I discovered wonderful Anglophiles eager to hear about the charming—and often strange—customs and quirky oddities that we like to think make Britain great and that I often take for granted.

It’s not just the cream teas we Brits are famous for, but also the village flower shows, amateur dramatic performances in freezing cold parish halls, church fetes or the odd Morris dancing festival or two. These things you just won’t find in London. So I thought I’d share a few photos from last summer’s Diptford Garden Show in Devon. Competition was fierce, feelings ran high, lamas ran rampant and feathers were definitely ruffled.

 


 

The charming thing about village life is that in some places milk is still delivered to the front door. My mother lives on a country estate where “Malcolm the Meat” comes on Mondays and “Fred the Fish” on Fridays. Walk through any village and you’ll come across empty jam jars full of freshly cut flowers or punnets of raspberries or tomatoes alongside a little honesty box. That would never happen in Los Angeles!

RHYS: I should add that when it was suggested that Hannah's mother's house was maybe too much for her and she should look for another, simpler place to live, instead she went and bought a wing of a stately home!
 
HANNAH:

I feel lucky to be able to write about a place I love so much. In fact, we’re giving away two copies of “Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall” in a free raffle so you can read about it too.
 
 
 
RHYS:All you need to do is to visit Hannah's website, www.hannahdennison.com, and find out in which English county Honeychurch Hall is set, then leave a comment guessing the correct location Your location options are: Shropshire, Kent, Devon, Cumbria or Surrey. Hannah will select two winners at the end of the day. And if you want a vicarious trip to England, then just read her books!

 HANNAH: Rhys, thanks so much again for hosting me on Jungle Red, one of my absolute favorite blogs.

 

 

49 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

I'm guessing that Honeychurch Hall is in Devon County, but wherever it is, it sounds like an absolutely charming place.
Congratulations on your new book, Hannah.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Hannah, that's a lovely post! I would think living away from the country you grew up in would be terribly hard--especially England to LA!

Please tell us more about the new book...

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Hannah, that's a lovely post! I would think living away from the country you grew up in would be terribly hard--especially England to LA!

Please tell us more about the new book...

Hallie Ephron said...

If there's anywhere in the US where you can probably get clotted cream (other than Wisconsin) it's Oregon... beyond that, there's the rain. Hannah, welcome! The new book sounds wonderful.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Welcome, dear Hannah!

And your question makes me realize how sadly lacking I am in UK geography skills!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

What is cream tea, though?

Deb Romano said...

Hannah,

Welcome! Since childhood I've wanted to visit England. Because it's not likely that I'll ever get there, I think I'll visit via your books!

Libby Dodd said...

Devon is the county.
And Hank, cream tea is a marvelous indulgence!
I leave it to one of our Brits to do justice to describing it.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Welcome, Hannah! Just returned from a trip to Beaulieu in Hampshire, but that's really all of the English countryside I know (so far, at least). Therefore, I must read your books!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

And my agent just emailed me-she is in Hay on Wye!

Mary Sutton said...

I'm with Hank - what is cream tea? Llamas run wild. How funny. I love the covers on these. Maybe someday I'll visit England. Someday.

Devon.

Brenda Buchanan said...

I love the idea of summer fairs where the quality of the eggs is a basis for bragging rights. I will look for this book - it sounds like a summertime delight.

Hannah Dennison said...

Good morning from the West Coast! Thank you for the warm welcome. Hallie - Portland reminds me a lot of the west country (clue to the answer!) - because yes, it rains a lot. However, the summers are amazing with guaranteed sunshine. Hank - cream teas involve scones (a kind of American biscuit), jam and lashings of thick cream-very fattening-along with a pot of tea.
Susan - I know Beaulieu and the New Forest well. It's very pretty. Mary - Llamas just make me laugh. They always look so fierce. I'm feeling so homesick this morning....

Grandma Cootie said...

I'm guessing Devon.

For me part of the reason a series like this is so appealing is because it is so different from our everyday lives. Certainly not like LA or any other big city, but also not quite like our small-town life. I grew up in a small town but I think the only thing we would have in common is the milk delivery.

Congrats on the latest release.

kmt1976 said...

Devon. My family was from Morpeth. I'm sure there is some 'interesting' things going on there :)

Deb Forbes said...

Enjoyed thus post now I need to read the book. I am guessing the answer is Devon County from what I read.on the excerpt. Thanks for chance fingers crossed

Deb Forbes said...

Enjoyed thus post now I need to read the book. I am guessing the answer is Devon County from what I read.on the excerpt. Thanks for chance fingers crossed

Kuzlin said...

Stories are set in Devon (Agatha Christie's beloved Devon). Thanks for the giveaway. kuzlin at aol.com

cherrypieaprons said...

It is set in Devon County. I lived in Mexico City for years so I know what it feels like to miss your homeland. I would start crying every time I heard "The Star Spangled Banner" and I longed to hear words spoken in English. At the same time, I wouldn't trade those years for anything.

Love your books and congratulations!

Susan D said...

Well, it has to be Devon, no? with the mention of cream tea.

I STILL remember with delight the time my friend Leslie and I stopped at a local country hotel in Devon for cream tea, in the lounge, complete with sad-eyed spaniel trying to convince us it hadn't eaten in weeks (or at least since lunchtime). That was 1973

Have to admit, I first read the title on the cover as "Deadly Daisies at Honeychurch Hall." Well, you never know.

LeAnn said...

I am guessing Devon, thank you for the giveaway!

Pat D said...

I enjoyed the first Honeychurch Hall book so much. Can't wait for the next one. I have your Vicky Hill books too. What with one thing or another I haven't read them all yet. Small town life is always interesting, isn't it?

Pat D said...

Forgot to say Devon!

Kathy Reel said...

I loved your first Honeychurch Hall mystery, Hannah, and I have my copy of Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall in my short stack TBR pile. Kat and Iris are such great characters, and trouble seems to be their constant companion. However, their wit through it all is wonderful.

Your description of the English countryside, the village life, sounds so inviting to me, and it whets my already Anglophile appetite. The setting of your books in Devon is in the part of England I most want to visit. My ancestors lived in Stoke Canon, right outside of Exeter, and the graves of two of my many greats grandparents are still there at the church in Stoke Canon. They were Boones, grandparents of Daniel and his brother Edward, from whom I am directly descended. I'm hoping to take a trip to England in the next few years. Fingers crossed.

Hank, are you familiar with Hay on Wye being the bibliophile's dream-come-true location, with over 40 bookstores (in various shapes and forms) in the small village of about 1,800 people. It's definitely on my list of places to visit whenever I do get to England. Here's a fantastic link showing the lovely and quirky book shops and stops of Hay on Wye. http://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseypippin/hay-on-wye#.di8XlZVY3

Hannah, I'm so happy you stopped by the Reds today. I can't wait to get to your new book and meet you at Bouchercon in Raleigh this year.

Deborah Crombie said...

Hi Hannah! I can't believe I have missed reading your books, but am going to remedy right away.

I so understand about the homesickness. I had come back to Texas after living in the UK when I started my series. I was so homesick for England, so I thought I'd just be there in my imagination.

And now you've made me want a proper cream tea--in Devon, of course:-)

Omygato said...

I guess Devon.

Margo Bittner said...

I think it would be Devon. Looking forward to reading this newest volume

Robin Driscoll said...

I'm going to guess Devon.

LadyRed said...

Devon is the county and I loved the sneak peek at chapter one!

Hannah Dennison said...

I love all these comments! They make me feel even more homesick this morning. I know Stoke Canon, Morpeth, too ... England is so small and yet there are many different accents. I remember being surprised to learn that California is actually bigger than England (maybe not including Scotland - I forget).

Julia said...

Honeychurch Hall is in Devon County. Can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

Honeychurch Hall is in Devon and I can't wait for the new book - they are fun reads.

Trish said...

It is set in Devon County.

bski92 said...

Devon County. Can't wait to read it!

Mary Holshouser said...

the setting is Devon. Looking forward to getting my hands on this book. thanks for the chance to get it soon.
txmlhl@yahoo.com

Sherilyn Leath said...

Deadly Desires in Devon!!!!
Would love to visit - the book & the county!
Congratulations on the "new arrival" Hannah!

B J English said...

Honeychurch Hall is in Devon. I have be interested in England since I was young. I had an English penal all during my teen years. Now I have an English neice in law plus who did I marry? A man named William English. Oh yes I would love the book.
Bettyjo.English@gmail.com

Julia said...

Hannah, I see life in New England - at least my rural Maine portion of it - is similar to the English countryside. My neighbor down the way has a roadside stall of beautiful flower-filled jars and an honesty box. There's farm nearby that raises llamas (though for what, I can't imagine. Is there that much demand from knitters for llama yarn?) No Morris dancers, but the local grange hall does have contradances in the winter. And of course, we have our agricultural fairs in the late summer and fall, where competition for the Best Pickle is fierce.

I love reading and writing about small towns!

storytellermary said...

Cream tea in Devon would get my vote, and I'm looking forward to some excellent reading time.

Jim Collins said...

"Agatha Christie's beloved Devon." Thanks again to the Reds for adding yet another new author to Mt. Tooby. These look like a lot of fun and I'd love to win one.

Jim Collins said...

PS Forgot to add that my interest was definitely sparked by seeing that you named it after one of my favorite characters, Lucy H.

mee said...

I say it is Devon. I really enjoy your books.

Anonymous said...

Devon. Thanks. David Squires ruach36@yahoo.com.

Christopher Lord said...

Of course, as I learned when I visited Penzance and St. Ives last fall, you better not call it "Devonshire cream" when you're there. You are sternly reprimanded that it is "Cornish cream, and we had it first."

Hannah: we must have drinks together when you're not gallivanting between PDX and LA. We need to catch up....

Hannah Dennison said...

Wow ... such a lot of wonderful comments! I so appreciate you stopping by. We'll be announcing the winner soon so watch this space! (as they say).
Thanks again for making me feel so welcome.

Mar (aka mar annabelle jacob) said...

Adding to my TBR list

I have Murder at Honeychurch Hall on my tablet, have not read yet, it is there with lots and lots of books I wanna read

Adding book #2 to tablet

love English Mysteries, apx 98% of what I read :)

Sue Farrell said...

I'm thinking Honeychurch hall is in Devon. Thanks for the contest.
suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

Julie Dixon said...

I am guessing Devon. I love English mysteries! Thanks for the opportunity!
sharonbabyme@yahoo.com

Liz Straw said...

Honeychurch Hall is located in Devon County. (Which I must go look up on the atlas.)