This is the start of a new feature on Fodder For Fiction. Each week, on Wednesdays, we’ll honor the birthday of an author whose birthday falls during the current week. I’ll kick off the celebration by sharing an excerpt from the author’s work portraying a celebration, party, or festive occasion. I figure we should celebrate each of these great writers’ birthdays with a bash they created!

Our first honored author birthday of 2010, is Philippa Gregory, author so many great works of historical fiction, including The Virgin’s Lover, and The Other Boleyn Girl. I love Philippa Gregory’s ability to bring new readers into the historical fiction genre. What I mean by that is, she uses a delightful prose style and bawdy scenes to make her novels page turners – and the kind of historical fiction that even readers who don’t normally read historical fiction will enjoy.

Happy Birthday, Philippa Gregory! Enjoy the excerpt from a masquerade ball scene she wrote.

It was a great romp in the end, far more fun than I had expected, much more of a play-fight than a dance. George flung rose petals at me and I drenched him with a shower of rosewater. The choristers were just little boys and they got overexcited and attacked the knights and were swing off their feet and spun around and dumped, dizzy and giggly, on the ground. When we ladies came out from the castle and danced with the mystery knights it was the tallest knight who came to dance with me, the king himself, and I, still breathless from my battle with George, and with rose petals in my headdress and my hair, and sugared fruit tumbling out of the folds of my gown, found that I was laughing and giving my hand to him, and dancing with him as if he were an ordinary man and I little more than a kitchen maid at a country romp.

When the signal for the unmasking should have come the king cried out: “Play on! Let’s dance some more!” and instead of turning and taking another partner he led me out again, a country dance when we went had to hand and I could see his eyes gleaming at me through the slits in his golden mask. Reckless and laughing, I smiled back up at him and let that sunny approbation sink into my skin.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Feel free to post your own warm wishes to Philippa on her special day.

Best to you,

Lisa Lipkind Leibow

Author of Smart Women’s Fiction

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