Blackground

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Doubleday, 1989 - Fiction - 293 pages
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Actress Cat (short for Catherine) Conwil has landed a juicy role in a period TV drama being filmed by Pyramid Television on location at Knoyle Court. The estate's owner, Lord James Tybold Fortuneswell (a mysterious media mogul who is also a big noise at Pyramid), turns up, and is smitten by Cat--who has been transformed into a silver blonde for the part. Sweeping Cat off her feet, he soon has them honeymooning in Venice, even though they barely know each other. When they begin to exchange notes about their pasts, Cat fails to connect Ty's sudden migraine attack and ensuing coldness toward her with her revelation that she had met him years before when she was a trainee nurse and he was at the bedside of a dying patient. Blackground turns, almost imperceptibly, from a chatty, albeit sensitive, first-person narrative into a witty murder mystery. Cat's meditations on life and the death of her Welsh-Russian mother gradually are overridden by her growing awareness that several unexplained accidents have threatened her life.

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About the author (1989)

Joan Delano Aiken was born in Rye, Sussex, England, on September 4, 1924, the daughter of the Pulitzer Prize winner, writer Conrad Aiken. She was raised in a rural area and home schooled by her mother until the age 12. She then attended Wychwood School, a boarding school in Oxford. Her work first appeared in 1941 when the British Broadcasting Corporation, where she worked as a librarian, broadcast some of her short stories on their Children's Hour program. Aiken also worked at St. Thomas's Hospital, and in 1943 she moved to the reference department of the London office of the United Nations, where she collected information about resistance movements. She worked for the UN until 1949, all the while continuing to write stories. In 1953 a collection of short fiction called All You've Ever Wanted and Other Stories was published. While writing The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, begun in 1952, her husband became ill and died of lung cancer in 1955. After working for five years as a copy editor at Argosy Magazine, and at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Firm, she returned and finished the book in 1963. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and was made into a successful film in 1988. In 1969 The Whispering Mountain won the Guardian Children's Book Award, and in 1972, Night Fall won America¿s Edgar Allen Poe Award for juvenile mystery. Aiken is best known for her adult "fantasy" stories. She has received awards for children's fiction and for mystery fiction, and has also written ''sequels'' to Jane Austen books. She collaborated with her daughter to write many episodes of her Arabel and Mortimer the raven series for the BBC. In all, Aiken wrote 92 novels - including 27 for adults - as well as plays, poems and short stories, although she was best known as a writer of children's stories. Joan Aiken died in January of 2004 at the age of 79.

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