03 August 2007

Dutch Treat

Growing up in New York state, only miles from Sleepy Hollow (yes, that Sleepy Hollow) I had early exposure to Dutch history and folklore. Maybe numerous retellings of Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (though I can't bring myself to see the Johnny Depp version; I know he's brilliant, but I can't bear anyone tampering with Ichabod Crane.)planted the seed and later the Valerie Sherwood novels I gobbled in college watered it. However it started, I'm noticing Dutch references in my own stories more often than not.

An urban legend about the ghost of a Dutch settler spooks the heroine of my first historical, My Outcast Heart. The hero of "Never Too Late" has a Dutch name, the heroine of my time travel WIP is proud of her Dutch heritage and one of the core families in the saga I'm co-writing with a partner is Dutch. In a novel I'm shopping around now, Jonnet and Simon fall in love while in the Dutch exile of the English Civil War. So, what's the appeal? Beyond the wooden shoes, cheese and tulips?

The Netherlands, or The Low Countries, depending on the period, enjoys a golden age during my favorite periods to set my romances. Duking it out with England and Spain for mastery of the seas, and the booming trade of the Renaissance, Dutch merchants and explorers traveled across the oceans to the Caribbean, and the New World. Tons of story potential both on the respectable side, and during the golden age of piracy that followed.

When a college friend tracked me down across campus to physically put a Valerie Sherwood novel in my hand and tell me I had to read it, the history and legends I'd absorbed in childhood took on a new dimension as I read her tales of love and adventure, in the bustling city of Amsterdam and the wilds of New Amsterdam colony with the wealth of the patroons contrasted with the new land. I knew I had to know more and more. In fact, I gleaned so much that I was able to ace a colonial history exam with an essay question about Dutch contributions to colonial society. Trust me, we can thank Dutch ingenuity in ice travel for keeping colonial trade going during the colonial winters.

Dutch women, historically, often had more rights and freedoms than their English sisters. They had an easier time if they wanted or needed to fend for themselves economically, even instigate divorce. Now wouldn't that be an interesting twist?

Ingenuity flourishes throughout Dutch history, with farmers, artists, artisans, scholars and nobles abounding. With the current market expanding to include a wider variety of settings, and the Fox network about to debut their New Amsterdam drama series, maybe readers will be interested in discovering a few Dutch treats of their own.


Delia DeLeest said...

I'm half Dutch and now you've got me curious about my own heritage. I don't know much about my family's past, but I am using my Dutch great-grandmother's maiden name, Delia DeLeest, as my pen name. My husband blames my Dutch roots as the cause of my infamous tightwad ways.

Camilla Bartley said...

My maternal grandfather's family is Dutch(and Irish and Apache as well as African *g*). The closest I've gotten to The Netherlands is a brief stop-over in Antwerp for my h/h as they flee nefarious villans, but Rosalind Laker's The Golden Tulip and Alexandre Dumas pere's The Black Tulip are really good books.

Jayne said...

I recommend trying the books of Juliet Waldron. Two of hers are set during the 1700s in the Dutch New York community.


DPH Eaton said...

jvsigzoAuthor Donald P.H. Eaton begins to solve the riddles in the
life and works of Joannis Vermeer.

Portland, Oregon -- August 7, 2007 -- So little is known about the life of the famous Dutch artist, Joannis Vermeer, that it could all be easily typed on this piece of paper. A new novel, FAITH, is the first in Mr. Eaton’s Vermeer Series and explores the painter’s early apprenticeship and complex relationship with Catharina Bolnes.

In April of 1653, Joannis Vermeer married Catharina. He was twenty and she just twenty-one. The marriage had been opposed for numerous reasons: He was still an apprentice; He had no money; He came from a social class which was beneath hers and he was not a Catholic. Still, their marriage endured until his untimely death at the age of forty-three. FAITH is the story of three winter months before his marriage, the most important months of his life. It was a time when his ideas about art, technique and 'reality' were being formed, ideas that would be developed and reflected in all his later work. FAITH is also a love story, a 'probable' love story since nothing is recorded about the artist's life during this period. However, there is much in this novel about art, artists, painting and the thoughts behind it all. It also is rich in history, culture, philosophy, religion, medicine, science and even cooking. Everything in it is accurate. The people, the places, the distances and the night skies as they are described are factual. Since virtually nothing is known about the details of Vermeer’s life, the mysterious aspect of the works he produced are that much more appealing. There is nothing in this story that could not have happened. Most of it must have.

Link to Publication: http://www.lulu.com [Look for VERMEER in BOOKS; Click FAITH then author’s name for details.]

Donald P.H. Eaton was born in Boston on October 23, 1945. After traveling across Europe on his BMW motorcycle when he was seventeen, he returned to the United States where he worked in a factory as a machinist.

He entered Marlboro college from which he graduated with high honors three years later with a degree in Classics, Greek and Latin. After working as a language coordinator and teacher, he moved to Japan where he lived for five years teaching and playing rugby.

Donald returned to California where he entered Brooks Institute of Photography, leaving two years later after consistently receiving highest honors, to go to Los Angeles, California where he entered the Directors Guild of America Training Program. Upon completion of his two years as an apprentice, he was admitted to the Guild as a full member and has worked in the industry ever since.

Donald P.H. Eaton has written for television and is a member of the Writers Guild of America (Emeritus). FAITH is his first novel.


Release Source: Donald P.H. Eaton: dphe@aol.com (503) 636-5508