Hello to all,
I am again glad to have Nicole Clarkston with us. The first novel I read by her was about North and South, although I have read other JAFF novels (that I love) by Nicole, today she is presenting us with her latest Pride and Prejudice novel: London Holiday: A Pride and Prejudice Romantic Comedy. Who wants to have one? I mean a holiday in London? 😉 If you were thinking about the novel, yes, you can also try to win one during this blog tour!!
Hot air balloons… what about them? Maybe you do not know much about them but they must be significant in this story as one of them appears on the cover of this lovely book!!
Nicole is going to enlighten us with some part of the history of air hot balloons and I hope that you learn something from it, I was not aware of a few of these details.
One of my favorite scenes to write from London Holiday was the hot air balloon ride. It’s no spoiler, since it’s on the cover, but yes, our dear couple enjoy a flight together during their adventures. Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the Regency airship.
The first recorded hot air balloon flights were in 1783, conducted by French scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. This first flight was reportedly piloted by a duck, a sheep, and a cockerel, and flew for fifteen minutes at the end of a 250-foot tether. Within a month, De Rozier and his team had succeeded in the first untethered, manned flight, which covered five and a half miles in twenty minutes and flew to an altitude of 500 feet.
These early flights were powered by burning straw, which eventually caught the balloon on fire. However, the builders were undaunted, and continued to refine their design. Only two years after the first flights, De Rozier attempted to cross the English Channel with a dual system, consisting of one hot air balloon and on hydrogen balloon. Unfortunately, half an hour after take-off, the craft exploded. Both De Rozier and his assistant were killed. However, later that same year, French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries succeeded in the historic flight.
The British were not idle during this time. In 1784, Scottish aviator James Tytler flew a hot air balloon over Edinburgh. Shortly after this, it was an Italian diplomat named Vincenzo Lunardi who achieved the first flights over English soil. Launching a hydrogen balloon from London, he landed it safely in Hertfordshire with a dog, a cat, and a caged pigeon aboard.
In 1793, Americans got their first glimpse of a hot air balloon. Blanchard flew from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Gloucester County, New Jersey. Among the witnesses was George Washington.
Shortly after this, the hot air balloon entered the history of Vauxhall Gardens. The first regular flights began in 1802, as an additional attraction to entice guests. One of the more startling displays of aeronautics and pyrotechnics involved an unmanned balloon, a long fuse, and explosives. The fireworks shot off first, then the balloon itself was enveloped in a glorious fireball. The display was reportedly seen all over London and was a terrific promotional stunt for Vauxhall Gardens.
Although hot air balloons had their limitations as tourist draws—they could only fly in good weather with no wind–they remained a popular feature at Vauxhall until the Gardens closed in 1859. In fact, Vauxhall’s famous airship has its own claim to fame. Charles Green, already a balloon record holder, had taken over as the chief balloon operator for Vauxhall Gardens. He was known for experimenting with coal gas, as a safer and less expensive alternative to other fuels. He built the Royal Vauxhall Balloon for park owners in 1836, then purchased it back from them shortly after this.
That same November, Green set a record with the Royal Vauxhall by launching from Vauxhall Gardens and landing in Nassau, Germany the next morning. The balloon travelled approximately five hundred miles in eighteen hours and was rechristened The Great Nassau in honour of this achievement. Green and his Great Nassau would go on to set more records, and their names will forever be linked with Vauxhall Gardens.
Elizabeth and Darcy would not have flown on this Great Nassau in 1811, but balloons were certainly there, and already instilled in the popular culture. I hope you have enjoyed this brief history of our earliest flying machines! Now, treat yourself to a glimpse of the hot air balloon through Elizabeth’s eyes.
References: Clark, Liesl. “A Short History of Ballooning.” Nova, www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/short-history-of-ballooning.html – “History of Ballooning.” Virgin Air, www.virginballoonflights.co.uk/history-of-ballooning/ – “A Brief History of Vauxhall Gardens.” Vauxhall Gardens, www.vauxhallgardens.com/vauxhall_gardens_briefhistory_page.html
As Nicole has written… enjoy Elizabeth’s experience of a hot air balloon (excerpt from chapter 24).
They had some little difficulty in persuading the balloon master to an early departure. “First flight of the evening is at seven,” he had stated unequivocally. Until, of course, William had brandished several shining coins. These disappeared rapidly, and the man opened the gate to the basket.
It took only a few moments for the coal fire to be stoked to its proper heat, for the warming had already commenced some while before their arrival so the balloon’s impressive silk display could advertise the attraction all over the Gardens. When the man gave the signal for them to board, Elizabeth accepted William’s hand into the basket, then clasped the wooden railing. The little gate closed, bags of sand were hefted over the side, and the floor beneath her feet moved.
They had already agreed that from above, two passengers in a balloon were not terribly conspicuous. Anyone noticing their ascent would only be able to see them for a few moments before the greater height obscured their faces and granted a view only of the bottom of the basket. Those below, however, would be far easier to see. As a precaution in the early moments of their flight, William had arranged to stand behind her at the railing to conceal himself, but soon enough he should have the liberty to move about.
Elizabeth’s heart was thumping wildly. Two feet from the ground… three… six! She had not accounted for the rapidity of their ascent, nor had she considered how terribly unstable the floor would seem. Each shot of heat from the coal furnace, each jostle of passenger weight, served to rock the basket more than she had been prepared for. Her fingers tightened on the rail.
William was already craning his head about, searching at each change in elevation for whatever new angles of vantage the balloon could offer. “There, Burk and Johnson. And there is Turner. Two more there,” she heard him counting. “Blast. Two by the Kennington Lane entrance. I suppose all the gates are being watched.”
She closed her eyes and prayed for courage. She would look at the ground, she would! She swallowed, gulped a hasty breath of air, and tried to lean forward.
The figures below her swam into one dizzying blur. Her breath was coming in short, airless gasps now, and she felt herself growing faint. Oh, why had she thought she could manage this? She had enough trouble on fishing boats and horses! Wherever she could see the plane below her feet and feel movement that did not connect her to the ground, she had always felt ill. Carriages were little enough bother, for they were large, possessed a stable frame all around, and she could see only the horizon. That motion she had grown accustomed to, but this… this was beyond her!
“One by the orchestra,” William continued. “And the South pavilion… Miss Elizabeth, are your eyes sharper than mine? Is the light playing tricks on me, or is that another just there, near the first arch?”
He stepped to her right, leaning far over the edge of the basket, and the floor swayed with a sickening dip. “Miss Elizabeth, can you… Miss Elizabeth?”
The genuine concern in his voice was lost to her, for she could already taste the bitter tang in her mouth. In another half moment she was likely to mortify herself beyond hope of recovery, and if she tried to respond to him, she had not a prayer that she might be able to check the rebellion in her head and stomach.
“Miss Elizabeth, you are ill! We must set down immediately,” he called to the pilot.
She tried to shake her head, but she dared not. “No,” she managed thickly. “Still the north side!”
“Miss Elizabeth, we will find another way. I will not have you so distressed. Here, now, can you take a deep breath without difficulty?”
She clenched her eyes tightly closed and tried, but a gentle gust of evening air unsettled the basket. The breath she had tried to draw slowly came as an inward shriek and then was expelled just as rapidly in a cry of helpless alarm.
“Set us down at once!” William demanded again of the balloon pilot. “Can you not see, man? The lady is unwell!”
“I’m trying to, sir, but there’s a decent wind about just now. It will take some doing—ten minutes to the ground, at least. It will go faster if you help me to wind the rope.”
“Then allow me,” she heard him retort.
At once a stalwart strength left her, and she began to quake. She had not even realised that she had been leaning against his arm, and now bereft of that support, a new panic rose in her breast. No longer was she afraid of physical illness, but a mortal terror overtook her. She trembled from head to foot, and a series of frantic moans, wails, and sobs shook her.
“Miss Elizabeth!” William cried from half the world away, “You are only rocking the basket more. You make it far worse than it must be!”
She could not attend, however much she wished to. The music rising from the ground, so many fathoms below, told off the great measure of her fall, and nothing else could enter her mind. She knew she was shaking, desperately jerking herself about with her helpless spasms, but no force save the grounding security of firm earth could recall her.
“Miss Elizabeth!” William’s voice was near now, just at her ear, and she felt him pulling her hands from the railing. “Please, you must hear me. Can you listen? Squeeze my hand if you can.”
She could not. His presence was comforting—at least she would have someone else’s hand to hold as she plummeted to her death over the side, if it came to that—but she was no more in command of herself than she had been a moment earlier. She clung more tightly to the rail.
And I am so mean to leave you hanging there! My humblest apologies. -NC
If you are a bit mad at Nicole for leaving us hanging after reading this scene, you can find her and tell her off on:
Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.
Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write four other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.
Nicole contributes to Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through all the links below the biography.
Would you like to buy the book before trying the giveaway? Here you can do it:
Great posts that we have had so far on this book tour and I am sure that the rest are going to be as good 🙂 Check them to know more about this story.
7th June So little time… – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
8th June Diary of an Eccentric – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
9th June Just Jane 1813 – Review, GA
10th June My life journey – Review, GA
11th June From Pemberley to Milton – Vignette, GA
12th June My Jane Austen Book Club – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
13th June Half Agony, Half Hope – Review, Excerpt, GA
15th June Austenesque Reviews – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
16th June My Love for Jane Austen – Vignette, GA
18th June Obsessed with Mr. Darcy – Review, GA
19th June My Vices and Weaknesses – Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
20th June A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life – Guest Post
Time to Give Away
8 ebooks! Nicole is giving away 8 ebooks of London Holiday to 8 different winners. Moreover, the giveaway is open internationally. You just have to click the link below to participate, just follow what Rafflecopter asks you to do. Please read the terms and conditions below the picture in case you are not sure how to get extra entries.
Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries. A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.