The read-along for Mary Green starts today, so here is a little book club guide, for those who are interested in a little extra background reading.
1. Why did you write this book?
Mary Green is the kind of book I would want to read. I wrote it because I love the novels of Jane
Austen, drawing room dramas with a light-hearted tone and sentences I can sink my teeth into—a
romantic story that is not a romance novel, that is thoroughly researched in terms of the historical
setting and yet fun to read.
2. What would you like people to take from your work?
I just want them to enjoy it. I believe that whenever we invest in a story, whenever we are moved by
someone else's experience, true or fictional, it cultivates
our empathy and makes us a more compassionate
person. Mary Green is a story that readers can just relax
and sink into, an engaging and enjoyable diversion. It
doesn't try to teach anyone anything directly, but the
characters are very real, at least to me, and that is what
I want to give people, just the experience of reading it.
3. Give us a little insight into the background of the
This story is set in the early 1800s, in a time known as
the Regency Period. It is before the Industrial
Revolution, so almost everything is done by hand. The
Napoleonic Wars are off and on again during this time,
so the proportion of men to women is quite small. The
American Revolution and the French Revolution are a
few decades past and colonialism, especially in India, is
in full swing. There is a fascination with all things eastern
and classical. Ladies' fashions involve muslins and silks
from India worn in a style reminiscent of ancient Greek
togas, for example. Feudalism is mostly gone, thanks to
the Agricultural Revolution, and there are a lot of migrant
workers leaving the countryside for the cities. There is
very little in the way of a middle class at this time.
People tend either to be gentry or paupers, and women
had very few options to support themselves. They were about a century away from getting the
right to vote, for example, and relied mostly on marriage as the primary means of security.
4. What kind of experience could I provide my book club that would give them some
insight into the characters and their experiences?
To set the mood for Mary Green, anything that brings to mind Jane Austen and her contemporaries
would be appropriate. The only music people had ready access to was what people could make
themselves, particularly on the piano, which was a fairly new invention at the time. Scotch and Irish
airs were easily as popular, if not more so, than the classical music we now associate with the
period. So those would be appropriate, as would anything by Haydn, or The Arrival of the Queen of
Sheba by Handel.
I recommend serving tea in china cups, or even hot chocolate, which was the
only way chocolate was consumed at the time and was quite an expensive and indulgent drink. It
should be prepared with actual chocolate, melted and mixed with hot milk. To make it more
authentic, you can add spices and other flavours like nutmeg, cinnamon, chilli, lavender, orange
This would be quite fitting, as drinking chocolate features repeatedly in the second half
of the book. Although we think of scones with cream and jam as typical of anything old and English
(and so delicious, they would really not be amiss anywhere), they actually only became popular in
the Victorian era, well after the Regency era when this book is set. Little sweet-meats would have
been served, like tiny biscuits that could fit on one's saucer. Any squares cut small would be
perfect, or Persian or Indian sweets, which are quite similar to what was eaten in England 200
For more involved dishes, the Jane Austen Centre website has some great recipes,
which can be found here: https://www.janeausten.co.uk/online-magazine/regency-recipes/.
simple yet classic refreshment is syllabub. Simply whip two cups of whipping cream and as it starts
to thicken, add 1/2 cup of white sugar and a couple of tablespoons of either white wine or lemon
juice and a couple more of lemon zest. Chill and serve with grated nutmeg, sprigs of mint, slices of
lemon, or anything your heart desires.