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Laura Byrne Paquet

Books

Wanderlust

Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel

Publication date: April 2007

Where did passports come from? Why did 1930s stewardesses carry wrenches? And how did teetotallers shape the modern vacation?

Wanderlust answers these questions and more. Follow hypochondriac Romans to spas in Asia Minor, hide from the bedbugs in medieval coaching inns, enjoy a Finnish sauna with a group of well-bred Victorian ladies, and relax on a transatlantic liner with some of England’s Bright Young Things from the 1920s. And take a look at the future of tourism, from the economics of underwater hotels to the ethics of air travel in an age of global warming.

Everyone who has ever spent a dreary day at an office cubicle dreaming of a beach in the Caribbean or a sidewalk café in Paris will recognize the restlessness that has propelled people across the horizon and across the planet for centuries. That longing, that ache, that anticipation—that’s wanderlust.

 

Urge to SplurgeThe Urge to Splurge: A Social History of Shopping

Publication date: November 2003

Millennia ago, people haggled for fish and wool in crowded outdoor bazaars. These days, we use our credit cards to buy collectibles on eBay. But has shopping really changed all that much?

The Urge to Splurge delves into the history of one of mankind’s oldest pursuits. (No, not that one.) Come inside the ancient marketplaces of Rome and the covered arcades of Napoleonic France. Ride the escalators of the first Bloomingdale’s along with crowds of astonished New Yorkers, and attend an elegant concert in the 1880s at the Bon Marché in Paris. Visit a modern grocery store that sells everything from tomatoes to televisions, and shop for olive oil along with the citizens of biblical Ephesus. And shop ’til you drop with Jackie Kennedy and an eighteenth-century Duchess of Devonshire.

If you’ve ever gone to the mall to buy a $1.49 carton of light bulbs and returned with a $300 coat, you understand the lure of shopping. The Urge to Splurge tells the fascinating story of countless generations who’ve succumbed to the siren song of the marketplace.

Secret Ottawa
Secret Ottawa: The Unique Guidebook to Ottawa's Hidden Sights, Sounds, and Tastes

Publication date: November 2000

So you’ve seen the Peace Tower and the Sparks Street Mall. Think you know everything about the nation’s capital? Think again. Secret Ottawa takes you behind the scenes of the official tourist sites—Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, the National Gallery of Canada—and into the places only locals know.

Any guidebook will tell you about tours of the House of Commons: Secret Ottawa points you to the restaurants where Cabinet ministers do lunch. Any guidebook will point you to the National War Memorial: Secret Ottawa takes you to the statue Mackenzie King put up to honour his dead roommate. And any other guidebook will tell you Ottawa is a bureaucrat’s town: Secret Ottawa uncovers the passionate heart beneath the pencil-pushing facade. You’ll learn about outlet shops for lingerie and candles, dim wine cellars awash in live jazz, and the best park benches for moonlit romance.

Secret Ottawa shows you how to dig under the government-approved surface to find the city other tourists—and many residents—miss.

Regency Romance novelsRegency Romance novelsRegency romance novels

Under the plain old name Laura Paquet, I’ve written six Regency romance novels and two novellas. What is a Regency romance novel, you ask? It’s a “sweet” romance—in other words, clean enough for the whole family—set in the British Isles between 1811 and 1820, when the Prince of Wales served as regent for his mentally unstable father, King George III.

It’s a period I love because it was a time of transition. Those randy Georgians—think Tom Jones and the like—were giving way to prim Victorians who put skirts around their piano legs to avoid shocking the family. Jane Austen’s agrarian milieu of squires and tenants was heading pell-mell into the Dickensian world of urban slums and smoke-belching factories. And the first stirrings of our modern cult of celebrity were making heroes of Keats, Shelley and Wellington, among others.

Most of my Regency romances are out of print, but they’re easy to find used online. Try www.Amazon.ca, www.AbeBooks.com or www.eBay.com.