Friday, August 29, 2014

Stolen Remains by Christine Trent

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Historical Novel Review
Read: May 15, 2014

After establishing her reputation as one of London's most highly regarded undertakers, Violet Harper decided to take her practice to the wilds of the American West. But when her mother falls ill, Violet and her husband Samuel are summoned back to England, where her skills are as sought-after as ever. She's honored to undertake the funeral of Anthony Fairmont, the Viscount Raybourn, a close friend of Queen Victoria's who died in suspicious circumstances--but it's difficult to perform her services when his body disappears. . . As the viscount's undertaker, all eyes are on Violet as the Fairmonts and Scotland Yard begin the search for his earthly remains. Forced to exhume her latent talents as a sleuth to preserve her good name, Violet's own investigation takes her from servants' quarters, to the halls of Windsor Castle, to the tombs of ancient Egypt--and the Fairmont family's secrets quickly begin to unravel like a mummy's wrappings. But the closer Violet gets to the truth, the closer she gets becoming the next missing body... Wrought with both heartfelt bravery and breathtaking suspense, Stolen Remains is a captivating tale of death and deception set against the indelible backdrop of Victorian London.

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Christine Trent's Stolen Remains, the sequel to Lady of Ashes, left me in mind of A Royal Likeness and that isn't a good thing. Unlike most of Trent's readers, I found her first sequel lacked the appeal of its predecessor and here again, I feel the story failed to replicate the magic of the original publication.

Lady of Ashes struck me for a couple of reasons, the first among them being the detailed insight the story gave to the undertaker's profession. Unfortunately this element all but disappears in Stolen Remains. Have no fear, Violet is still practicing, but I was very disappointed at Trent's decision to downplay the details of her craft in favor of the mystery at hand.

On that note, I also failed to see the entertainment value in Trent's whodunit. Call me crazy, but the whole thing seemed way too coincidental. Violet just happens to be in London, just happens to have her supplies, Queen Victoria just happens to renew their far-fetched association... Give me a break. 

Already frustrated with the direction and tone of the piece, Trent's self-promotional nod to her earlier novels annoyed me even further. The Laurent Doll Shop isn't essential to this series and the fact that scenes continue to take place here comes off as both amateurish and awkward.

There is a lot of buzz regarding the impending publication of A Virtuous Death and The Mourning Bells, but can't say I'm among those dying to get my hands on either tome.

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“Yes. It has come to our attention that Anthony Fairmont, the Viscount Raybourn, has just died. Perhaps a suicide, but quite possibly murdered, at his townhome in Mayfair."
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gods of Gold by Chris Nickson

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 28, 2014

June 1890. Leeds is close to breaking point. The gas workers are on strike. Supplies are dangerously low. Factories and businesses are closing; the lamps are going unlit at night. Detective Inspector Tom Harper has more urgent matters on his mind. The beat constable claims eight-year-old Martha Parkinson has disappeared. Her father insists she s visiting an aunt in Halifax but Harper doesn't believe him. When Col Parkinson is found dead the following morning, the case takes on an increasing desperation. But then Harper s search for Martha is interrupted by the murder of a replacement gas worker, stabbed to death outside the Town Hall while surrounded by a hostile mob. Pushed to find a quick solution, Harper discovers that there s more to this killing than meets the eye and that there may be a connection to Martha s disappearance.

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By all appearances, Chris Nickson's Gods of Gold looked to be a slam dunk. Gorgeous cover art aside, the jacket description gave me the sort of thrill I get watching Ripper Street and that's never a bad thing in my book. Unfortunately, reality failed to meet expectation and I can't say I was particularly impressed with the title. 

For the record I liked the story. Martha's disappearance paired with Leeds' 1890 gas strike made an interesting combination of subject matter and drama. Of the cast, I found Annabelle Atkinson most amusing, but the novel's lead, Detective Inspector Tom Harper, was far too straight-laced and virtuous for my taste. 

Most of my difficulties, however, stem from the writing style and an overall lack of depth. The characters are too straightforward, the plot elementary and the dialogue wooden. I liked the idea and what Nickson was attempting to do with the story, but the telling simply didn't work for me.

Not a complete wash, but Gods of Gold is definitely a title I'd be hard-pressed to recommend.  

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"What do you think he did with her?"
Harper waited. He hadn't said it, didn't want to say it, but knew it needed to be out in the open. 
"I think he sold her."
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Ismeni: A Prelude to The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read:  August 27, 2014

A mysterious beauty, a destiny set in the stars. Born under an inauspicious sign, young Ismeni is feared by her own people. The single thing she prays for: to live an invisible life. But that is not to be for the young woman who has captured the attention of the king's youngest son. A story of love, passion, and twists of fate through the eyes of the woman who will one day give birth to the legendary Queen of Sheba.

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Why am I only now discovering Tosca Lee? It's a short, but Ismeni: A Prelude to The Legend of Sheba is absolutely fabulous and I can't for the life of me understand how I've not encountered this author before. 

The situational drama is believable despite the brevity of the piece and I couldn't help falling in love with Lee's heroine. I admit the plot leans toward the predictable, but the style and language in which it is written is flawlessly addictive. 

I'm not usually one to promote promotional freebies, but in this case I'm willing to make an exception. Ismeni is a delightful diversionary read that left me dying to get my hands on The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen.

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My mother argued my innocence against the tribal elders, who, I am told, craned to peer at my face even as she tried to shield it with her hands so they might not call such loveliness in a child unnatural . But men are easily swayed by fear. And so I grew up with the burden of a beauty that cannot be celebrated because of its potential, at any moment, to kill.
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Shakespeare's Dark Lady: The Lost Story of Aemilia Bassano Lanyer by Sally O'Reilly

Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: August 27, 2014

The real Aemilia Basano Lanyer was Renaissance woman, centuries ahead of her time. England’s first professionally-published female poet, she is also suspected to have inspired the poetry of one our greatest and most beloved writers, William Shakespeare—and she continues to inspire writers to this day. With Dark Aemilia, Sally O’Reilly gives us a richly imagined novel of this mysterious, and nearly forgotten, woman, and now, she invites us to discover Ameilia Lanyer first-hand. A collection of Shakespeare’s famed "Dark Lady" sonnets; fascinating and hard-to-find historical details; and Aemilia’s own provocative poetry, as well as exclusive excerpts from the novel; Shakespeare’s Dark Lady is a must-read for poetry lovers and the ideal companion to Sally O’Reilly’s stunning debut—a novel "filled with all the passion, drama, and magic of Elizabethan England"

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Not to be blunt, but this "book" is a bloody waste of time. The jacket description is misleading in that it gives the impression the title will offer some sort of insight to Aemilia's character when in fact is does nothing of the sort. 

The Dark Lady Sonnets by Shakespeare and Eve's Apologie by Aemilia Lanyer are freely available (I looked them up online) and I can't admire the attempt to fashion the Prologue, Chapter One and Historical Note from Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady into a teaser release as the novel's early pages are hardly indicative of its overall content. 

Honestly, I would have liked bonus material, maybe a scene from the book as witnessed by Lilith or Henry, but as it stands, I can't begin to understand what Macmillan is trying to do here.

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I am a witch for the modern age. I keep my spells small, and price them high . What they ask for is the same as always. The common spells deal in love, or what love is meant to make, or else hate, and what that might accomplish. I mean the getting of lovers or babies (or the getting rid of them) or a handy hex for business or revenge. When a spell works, they keep you secret, and take the credit. When it fails, of course, the fault is yours. So a witch is wise to be cautious, quiet, and hard to find.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Captive Queen: A Novel of Mary Stuart by Danny Saunders

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: August 23, 2014

Political schemes, religious partisanship and unbridled love shake the Royal Court of Scotland at the end of the Stuart dynasty. Witness to sordid murders, spy for Her Majesty among the Protestants of the infamous preacher John Knox, forced to give up her one true love, thrown out onto the streets then ruthlessly attacked by a drunkard, Charlotte Gray will do everything in her power to remain the sovereign's lady-in-waiting. As for the Queen of Scots, she faces turmoil of a completely different kind: prisoner in a castle under the command of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Mary Stuart learns that she is the victim of a vast conspiracy and that her English counterpart has ordered her imminent execution. Despite their hardships, Mary and Charlotte will keep their dignity throughout the storm. The two women will finally find serenity, one in the arms of a man and the other in the arms of God. Interwoven with historical facts of the era, the thrilling The Captive Queen saga is worthy of the greatest royal intrigues that still fascinate us several centuries later.

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I have mixed feelings about Danny Saunders' The Captive Queen. I liked the content and was genuinely intrigued by some of the drama Saunders created, but his style choices made it difficult for me to really get into and appreciate the story. 

Mary Stuart is a fascinating historical figure so I completely understand Saunders' enthusiasm for crafting a novel out of her experiences. In terms of content I think the author did an admirable job recounting the conspiracies, drama and tension that surrounded the Scottish Queen and I enjoyed the perspective Mary's lady-in-waiting, Charlotte Gray brought to the narrative. 

Saunders' interpretation of Mary and Charlotte are certainly worth noting. Mary herself is somewhat different than I expected, but I ultimately found Saunders' version of both original and thought-provoking. Charlotte is hard, calculating and difficult, but rather intriguing when you get right down to it. 

In terms of style, I would have liked more ambiguity. Saunders has a tendency to spell out every detail and while I appreciate the author's enthusiasm, I personally would have enjoying piecing together various elements of the story on my own.

All told, The Captive Queen is a detailed historical that offers a creative glimpse into Mary's world. A little rough around the edges, but not a bad introduction to the tragic monarch. 

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"My enemies, the ones who have brought me here, you shall be judged by the Almighty for your sins."
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Check Out All the Stops on Danny Saunders' The Captive Queen: A Novel of Mary Stuart Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, August 26
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, August 27
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, August 28
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, August 29
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, September 1
Review at JulzReads
Tuesday, September 2
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, September 3
Interview at To Read or Not To Read
Friday, September 5
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise
Monday, September 8
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, September 9
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, September 10
Excerpt & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, September 12
Review at Princess of Eboli

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview with Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Anne Girard to Flashlight Commentary to discuss her latest release, Madame Picasso. 

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Anne. Great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Madame Picasso.
Thank you so much, it’s a pleasure to be here. Madame Picasso is perhaps an unlikely story to some, since it was a love mof short duration. Yet after many months of research, both here and abroad, I do believe with total conviction, that theirs was an epic love affair, and one that defined Pablo the man, and Picasso the artist, for many years afterward. Eva Gouel (incorrectly called Marcelle Humbert on several internet sites, as that was her nickname in the city), met Picasso when both were young and living in the inspiring, daring, and romantic Paris world of the early 1900’s. I loved everything about that premise.   

What inspired you to write this story? Where did it start? 
I write true epic love affairs from history (13 previous novels under my real name, Diane Haeger. Anne Girard is a pen name), that is what always inspires me, to tell a true story and hopefully, if I do my job right, give readers something they didn’t know. Madame Picasso began when I went looking to write a novel about Picasso and his first significant love, Fernande Olivier, a woman who still curiously enough, figures prominently in my book. But the fact that Picasso was pulled away so powerfully from Fernande by his feelings for Eva, made my original premise not one worth pursuing. Eva was his heart when he was young and needed her. That sentiment is backed up by his friend, and French biographer, Pierre Daix. 

Your novel begins in Paris, 1911. How did you bridge the gap in time and to bring Madame Picasso to life?
I think that, at heart, people are people. They have always loved, and lost and there have always been epic love affairs, no matter the time frame (I always start from that place when I write, and my subjects (going back as far as young Henry VIII, and Diane de Poitiers before that). Times change, ways of speaking, clothing, however, emotions remain. I start with that notion and the characters help me bring them to life.

Eva left very little record of herself. How did you approach her character and what do you hope readers take from your interpretation of her? 
Certainly there must be interpretation involved. This is a novel, after all. I do weave fictional elements throughout my stories but I pride myself, and long have, on intense research and travel to the locations about which I write. If I use fictional elements or characters, it is always noted in the author’s note. As to how I approached Eva, well, for me, the most essential part, and the gift, was having the collection of her personal letters, those she wrote with Picasso, to and from Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas. Since I speak French, reading her thoughts, her sense of humor, and watching the story unfold through her words in her own handwriting, was as close I believe as anyone will ever get to the essence of Eva. Those letters figured heavily into how I wrote the novel. 

How would describe Eva and Pablo’s relationship? What do you think she meant to him?  
Based on my research, not on literary license or fantasy, I believe that she truly was his muse, and the love of his life. He gave up an established life for her, and many of his friends. He did go on to love again, and if I may say, to cement his own poor personal public reputation through the following years by not countering the negatives.  But in the novel, I attempt to show a slice of young Picasso. He was still open, still vulnerable with his heart. Eva arrived in his life at exactly the right moment. His friend and biographer confirmed that. And in speaking directly last summer in France with another dear friend of Picasso, I learned that the man was far different than the image he allowed the press to cultivate.

How do think his relationship with Eva compared to his relationship with Fernande Olivier?
They were totally different women, which is what drew Picasso to Eva. Fernande was a storm in the midst of his own creative sea. Eva was calm and welcome water.

Femme en chemise assise dans un
fauteuil (Eva), Woman in an Armchair
I’m very interested in the Bateau Lavoir studio. Atmospherically it has a very distinct feel. How did you approach recreating this particular environment? 
Ah, the Bateau Lavoir, yes! A place which literally means, washing barge. It was a dark, foul-smelling cheap place for artists to live up in Montmartre. The area, the studios (not the building, as it was), the essence of the place remains. I think Picasso, and others, felt free there. They didn’t love the squalid conditions, of course, but the inexpensive cost gave them more money for canvases and paint. They were young and they all had the goals for success. I think the environment bonded them.

Louis Markus is an interesting character. Can you tell us a bit about him and his role in the story? 
Yes, Louis. Well, every good story needs a strong protagonist (Picasso) and a sound antagonist (Louis), and I think Louis Markus, “Marcoussis” fits the bill perfectly for that. Factually, Louis and Eva were an item for a time before Picasso became involved. He did have an encounter with Fernande. As an author, I loved having him to play against Picasso.

There are several themes within your narrative. Which is your favorite and why?
Such a good question! I would have to say the theme of enduring love. Picasso was clearly pushed out of his comfort zone with Eva’s illness. He despised illness and death, which is documented. However, for love of her, he rose to the occasion and he was there for her daily, across France, no expense or time spared. It’s a special thing to see what true love can make or allow people to do. I believe Eva made him a better man…. At least for a time.

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing?
Absolutely! I felt that I was “there” in many of them, especially since I had gone to all of the places for my research. Even the summer house in Ceret. My family thought I was slightly crazy to seek that out! Yes, favorite scene to write was the confrontation scene—based on absolute fact—between Picasso, Fernande, her friends, and Eva, in the South of France. Hands down. 

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author? Why was it troublesome and how did you work through it?  
The last scene, absolutely, with Eva and Picasso. Still haunts me. I don’t want to give the ending away, of course, but I don’t think I ever have worked through it, or will.

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time with or expanded on?
Oh my, yes! Eva! She remains an enigma. I gained what I could, precious jewels, from her hand-written letters, but other than that it was my job to interpret those and factor those in the male biographers. There are only 3 known photographs of her in the world. I look at her face and I say to myself, I wish I could have spoken with you. I know you would have had amazing stories to tell me!

Historical novelists frequently have to adjustment facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing Madame Picasso and if so, what did you alter and why? 
True, when not all of the facts are known one must spin the tale around the facts. Authors take a series of known circumstances and then must weave a story through, and around, that. But my allegiance to the truth is paramount. Many years ago, I met and spoke with the mega-author Irving Stone, who impressed that idea upon me. I have never forgotten how important it is to be as faithful as possible to the “telling” of other people’s stories. As I said earlier, if I deviate for fiction, it is noted in my author’s note, and I am enormously proud of that fact.

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why?
Oh my……. Love this question! Instinct would have forced me to reply, Eva. Yet I think I would have to say Pablo Picasso. If, plied with good Spanish wine, and thus he could be honest, I would treasure his words about Eva and what she brought to his life, almost more than her take on it all. 

Just because I’m curious, if you could pick a fantasy cast of actors to play the primary roles in a screen adaptation of your work, who would you hire? 
That’s fun! Sandra Bullock as Fernande… she was who I had in mind as I wrote. Javier Bardem as Picasso. Natalie Portman as Eva.

Okay, we've talked a lot about your book. Let's switch gears and talk a little bit about you. How would describe your writing process? 
Full throttle, is my process. Once I commit to a story, I’m in it. I begin with massive research, whatever it takes, and I go to the location, no matter where it is. Sitting and chatting with a man who had known Pablo Picasso for 30 years was the best part of the process, on this novel. 

Who are your favorite authors? 
Irving Stone, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde, Karleen Koen, C.W. Gortner, Philippa Gregory. Many more

What are you currently reading? 
Z, by Therese Anne Fowler.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
I’m a work-out fanatic, to combat the stress, and I volunteer at a shelter, and am passionate about my adult kids. Being in their livesis my real vocation.

Where do you stand on the coffee or tea debate? 
Both. Liberally. Coffee first, tea afterward.

And finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? 
I am happily under contract to write a novel about the early life of the actress, Jean Harlow. It is entitled Platinum Doll. I hope I can share a bit of her life, as well, that most readers don’t know.

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Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. “Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw,” he said, “only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers.” Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone’s encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

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Early twentieth century Paris and Picasso’s lost love come to enchanted, vivid life in Madame Picasso. With a deft eye for detail and deep understanding for her protagonists, Anne Girard captures the earnest young woman who enthralled the famous artist and became his unsung muse.
- C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of The Queen's Vow

The story is so tremendously detailed that readers are transported to early 20th Century Paris, featuring such names as Moulin Rouge’s Mistinguett, Henri Matisse, Sarah Burnhardt, and Gertrude Stein. Picasso’s paintings are described, not only in technique, but with the artist’s feeling in each piece, perfectly setting the tone of the narrative. This is a story that will spark an interest in an era and bring to life Picasso’s intriguingly allusive love, Eva Gouel/Marcelle Humbert, who is not easily found in historical records.
- Arleigh of

It was hard to put down, I didn't want to leave their world. It was well written, exciting, suspenseful, sexy and heartbreaking. I can't imagine taking on the task of writing this book, the amount of research it would take and the talent to be able to fill in the blanks of the unknown and pull it off but Anne Girard did and very successfully.
- Artist Katherine Rohrbacher

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Format: Print & eBook
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Released by: Harlequin MIRA
ISBN-13: 978-0778316350
Length: 432 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Check Out All the Stop on Anne Girard's Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, August 26
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Notebook
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women
Review at Curling Up by the Fire
Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, September 3
Review at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Friday, September 5
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, September 10
Review at Books in the Burbs
Thursday, September 11
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, September 12
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Tuesday, September 16
Review at She is Too Fond of Books
Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time
Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 23
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Wednesday, September 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner
Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner

Interview with Alison Atlee, author of The Typewriter Girl

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Alison Atlee to Flashlight Commentary to discuss her debut release, The Typewriter Girl . 

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Alison. Great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about The Typewriter Girl.
Happy to be here--just love the name Flashlight Commentary. Three things readers will enjoy about The Typewriter Girl: 

The setting, a turn-of-the-century seaside resort. It’s posh and gorgeous and there’s a promenade pier with a camera obscura and a new-fangled attraction that today, we’d probably call a roller coaster. It’s the kind of place from the past I always wanted to go to. 

Betsey, the main character who leaves her job as a typewriter girl in London to work at the resort. “Leaves” is a little general--flees to avoid being arrested is closer. In any case, she definitely brings an unexpected element to this elegant setting. 

It’s not all about the romance, but there is a tough but sweet love story, and the fact that it’s between working class characters is unusual in romantic historical fiction. Not a duke in sight! :)

What inspired you to write this story? Where did it start? 
The initial seed of inspiration was an old postcard of the switchback railway ride on the seashore of Folkestone, England. I came across it during research for a different book, but when I saw it, I knew I had a setting for my next story. Eventually, I moved Idensea further south, and the switchback became a more glamorous scenic railway, but that’s how it began.

As a single woman, Betsey, holds a precarious position in Victorian society. Exactly how slippery a slope is she on when we first meet her? 
In some ways, she’s made it off the slippery slope many working-class women faced at that time. She’s scraped her way through a secretarial education and is supporting herself, though just. 

But you’re right, her position is precarious nevertheless. She’s breaking the rules by trying to move out of her social class, and her gender makes her doubly an outsider as she tries to make a career for herself. Possibly worse are the limits she puts on herself. 

Betsey has a very unique personality, both for the period and in the world fiction. What did you want say with her character and how hope she appears to your readers?
Readers may not like everything Betsey does (and wouldn’t it be rather dull if they did!), but I hope she’s fascinating enough to make them stick around. She opens herself to hope and dreams and love, which is what I love about her. 

Something I loved about John is that he’s Welsh. How does his ethnicity play into his character and what prompted your decision to write him as a Welshman? 
I’ve tried to remember that myself! The only thing I can recall is that a published author had given me a great critique on an earlier novel I’d written, but warned me that my setting, Venice, was not very marketable. She made a very off-hand comment to the effect of, “if you want your hero to be an outsider, move the setting to England and make him Welsh or something.”

So maybe that was still rolling around in my brain when I started drafting Typewriter Girl. I don’t remember, but I’m glad it happened because I fell in love with the Welsh culture and heritage. It’s also a bonding point between John and Betsey. She’s not Welsh, but they’re both outsiders figuring out how to both succeed and stay true to themselves.

A large part of the story deals with male and female interactions. Not just sexual encounters, but everyday communication. Why was this such an important topic you and how did the social rules of the Victorian era factor in your handling of it? 
Betsey is trying to make a career where women haven’t been admitted yet. Her mere presence in an office or meeting is an event--as John notes at one point, “in that room of men at their business, Betsey Dobson was a wrapped package, novelty and mystery and possibility.” 

Betsey is a little more prosaic. From her perspective, the men are trying to “make sense of a woman without a tray” when she shows up in the workplace.

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing?
It is hard to choose! Lillian was always fun and easy to write, whereas I fought with Betsey on several scenes, telling her, “I don’t think you’re allowed to do that.” Thank goodness she didn’t listen!   

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author? Why was it troublesome and how did you work through it?  
Possibly the scene that takes place the night before the Sultan’s Road opens to the public. I knew something was shifting in the story, but I couldn’t figure out why Betsey was behaving as she was or why it mattered. As I mention in the acknowledgements, author Jennifer Crusie rescued me on that and several other issues by explaining turning points to me. Turning points! Not just an expression!

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time with or expanded on?
Sarah, Betsey’s landlady. Since dreams were such an important theme in the book, I made sure the characters, even minor ones, had dreams for their lives, or were living with the consequences of suppressing a dream. But I never felt I discovered Sarah’s.

Historical novelists frequently have to adjustment facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing The Typewriter Girl and if so, what did you alter and why? 
John, one of the main characters, is a contractor building a seaside tourist attraction called The Sultan’s Road. It’s a fictional version of the scenic railways Lamarcus Thompson was building in the United States starting in 1887. These precursors to the modern roller-coaster didn’t appear in Britain until the early 1900’s, so The Sultan’s Road is slightly ahead of its time. But its novelty and adventurous qualities were too much for John to resist.

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why?
Mr. Seiler, the hotel manager, if I need to figure something out. But for adventure and to feel like somebody special, I’m going with John. 

Just because I’m curious, if you could pick a fantasy cast of actors to play the primary roles in a screen adaptation of your work, who would you hire? 
I’m terrible at this. All I can come up  with is a male version of the actress who plays the lead on  Major Crimes for Sir Alton. Or maybe Mr. Seiler. See, I’m terrible! Next question!

Okay, we've talked a lot about your book. Let's switch gears and talk a little bit about you. How would describe your writing process? 
It’s like an episode of Hoarders, but not as many laughs. 

Who are your favorite authors? 
For classics, Dickens and Shakespeare, etc. I do like “old stuff”! Some contemporary favorites are Geraldine Brooks, Laura Kinsale, and Margaret Atwood.

What are you currently reading? 
Defending Jacob, The Country Child, The Wide and Starry Sky, One Good Turn, and Mary Poppins, She Wrote. I’m a book stasher.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
Traveling whenever possible and community theater. Lots of family stuff!

Where do you stand on the coffee or tea debate? 
One of my local grocery stores has the coffee and tea on different aisles. I always feel a tug of sadness at this needless segregation. 

And finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? 
Yes, a couple of historicals in progress!

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Alison Atlee spent her childhood re-enacting Little Women and trying to fashion nineteenth century wardrobes for her Barbie dolls. Happily, these activities turned out to be good preparation for writing historical novels. She now lives in Kentucky.

Website   Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Goodreads ❧  Pinterest

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Atlee’s splendid cast of supporting characters, her insights into Betsey’s passion for independence and John’s compassion for the downtrodden, and her fine eye for period detail make this an unusually satisfying feast for romance readers.
- Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers will love visiting the glorious setting of Idensea, with beautiful architecture and delightful excursions, like the Sultan’s Road, that could rival Blackpool or Brighton in its charm. The Typewriter Girl takes the reader to visit this small community on the brink of change and places within that idyllic setting the story of a remarkable young woman determined to forge her own destiny.
- Historical Novel Society

This is a marvelous tale, and as a debut novel it exceeded my expectations. I loved the development of all of the characters, the rogues that you want to smite, to the young lovers you can't wait for the blindfolds to be removed so they can realize the precious gift before them.
- KPH, Amazon Reviewer

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Format: Audio
Publication Date: April 4, 2014
Released by: She Writes Press
Listening Length: 12 hours and 39 minutes
Publisher: Audible Studios
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Check Out All the Stops on Alison Atlee's The Typewriter Girl Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Mina’s Bookshelf
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at What Is That Book About
Tuesday, August 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews (Print)
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, August 7
Book Blast at Mari Reads
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, August 8
Book Blast at Book Blast Central
Saturday, August 9
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Sunday, August 10
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Monday, August 11
Review at Just One More Chapter (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads
Wednesday, August 13
Review at Historical Tapestry (Audio Book)
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, August 14
Review at A Bookish Affair (Print)
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Friday, August 15
Review at Brooke Blogs (Audio Book)
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Saturday, August 16
Book Blast at Broken Teepee
Sunday, August 17
Interview at Closed the Cover
Monday, August 18
Review at The Maiden’s Court (Audio Book)
Tuesday, August 19
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Always with a Book
Wednesday, August 20
Book Blast at Literary, Etc.
Thursday, August 21
Review at Books in the Burbs (Print)
Book Blast at Bibliotica
Friday, August 22
Review at Bibliophilia, Please (Audio Book)
Saturday, August 23
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Book Blast at Ageless Pages Reviews
Sunday, August 24
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, August 26
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, August 27
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing
Thursday, August 28
Review at Luxury Reading (Print)
Review at The True Book Addict (Audio Book)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (Print)
Friday, August 29
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
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The Typewriter Girl Swag Giveaway

One copy of The Typewriter Girl (Audio Book or Print)
Set of earbuds in a cute typewriter print pouch
A Typewriter Girl Happily-Ever-After t-shirt (features last lines from famous novels)
A vintage style postcard “from” Idensea, the setting of The Typewriter Girl
A “dream wildly” ribbon bookmark with typewriter key charms

To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. 
Giveaway is open to residents in the US, Canada, and the UK.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 30th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.