Meet Hester Browne
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. When I'm in New York, I am the most English person you will ever, ever meet.
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Dancing. There's something about dancing that makes me absolutely glad to be alive, whether it's sweeping around the floor in a romantic foxtrot, or being part of a surging crowd at a gig. I had a moment of true happiness earlier this year - I was at a reeling ball up in Scotland, performing The Reel of the 51st Division with about 200 other people. It was 2.30 am, the band were in full flow, and I was being spun from partner to partner without even having to think of anything but the music, and for a second the whole room was in step, lifted up by the tempo getting faster and faster... I couldn't stop smiling. It was one of those blissful moments of utter joy, when you think your feet are lifting off the floor, you're so filled with elation.
Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. scouring eBay for vintage bits and pieces, walking, and gossiping over cocktails with my friends
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Romantic hero? I have a longterm crush on Luke the Real Man from "Rachel's Holiday" by Marian Keyes: not only is he tall, dark and Irish, he's also strong yet sensitive - swoon. I've also loved Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse since I read 'Emma' at school. She feels like a very modern heroine, even in that nineteenth century setting - Emma worries about coasting by on charm, but doesn't do much about improving herself; she gossips and sets up her friends on dates, instead of examining her own heart; she can't resist a wisecrack, up to the moment when she humiliates poor silly Miss Bates at the picnic and feels the wrath of Knightley as well as her own guilt. The novel's nearly two hundred years old, but who hasn't let a cruel comment slip in the office kitchen, only to cringe at that 'you've gone too far!' tumbleweed - and realised, to their horror, that their work crush is listening in? And yet Emma learns, sort of, so there's hope for all of us careless wisecrackers (by which I mean me). Having said that, I'm not sure being Mrs Knightley would be quite as much fun as being Mrs Darcy, but that's a whole other discussion.
April 29, 2011I’m very bad at (a) updating my Author Voices blog and (b) self-publicity of any kind – come on, I’m English – but it seems like as good a time as any to remind you all that I wrote a book about someone nearly marrying a prince some years ago, way back in the dusty days when it seemed as if Prince William couldn’t put off proposing much longer. 2008, I believe. I would urge all you Royal-watchers to investigate The Little Lady Agency and the Prince, as it contains much sound prince-wrangling advice, albeit of minor European princelings. You might also think about looking up The Finishing... see more
February 11, 2011What could be sweeter on Valentine's Day than a pillowy, voluptuous marshmallow you've made yourself? Marshmallows might seem impossible if you don't have a non-WillyWonka-equipped kitchen, but they're actually quite simple, so long as you have the magic ingredient - a sugar thermometer. Pick one up from your local cookshop or jam-making neighbour, and you're away.
3 tbsp powdered sugar sifted with 3 tbsp cornflour
25g/2 packets of gelatine (sorry, veggies; Vegegel doesn't quite work
1/2 (half a) cup water
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 egg whites (or... see more
February 03, 2011So! The reeling ball in the stately home! And the question on everyone’s lips: did the vintage eBay bargain skirt fit in the end?
Well, I’m happy to say that yes, it did. Even if Anna the fearsome seamstress took me at my holding-my-breath-in word, and sewed the new buttons at the hopeful spot I insisted my new waist would be - which meant that I had to wear industrial-strength Spanx up to my chin, and pick daintily at dinner beforehand. Between the skirt and the Vivienne Westwood corset top piling up my frontage like a Whole Foods display, I had a sudden but vivid insight into why Victorian ladies moved around with such care.... see more
November 08, 2010This is my favourite time of the year here in the middle of nowhere.From Hallowe'en through to Bonfire Night, and into the drizzly no-man's land running up to Christmas, it's everything I like best about beingEnglish, up to and including the weather. Chilly, leaf-rustling, glove weather. It’sbasically what we – and our potato-friendly national cuisine - are designedfor.
Out here on the rural Welsh border, things takea misty turn around October, and the air smells of apples, woodsmoke and spookiness.Hallowe'en is a perfect example of the British obsession with supernaturalshivers and history in general. We're effectively history's... see more