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Dec 1: The Sisters, the Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell

“This is the story of a close, loving family splintered by the violent ideologies of Europe between the world wars. Jessica was a Communist; Debo became the Duchess of Devonshire; Nancy was one of the best-selling novelists of her day; beautiful Diana married the Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley; and Unity, a close friend of Hitler, shot herself in the head when England and Germany declared war. The Mitfords had style and presence and were mercilessly gifted. Above all, they were funny-hilariously and mercilessly so. In this wise, evenhanded, and generous book, Mary Lovell captures the vitality and drama of a family that took the twentieth century by storm and became, in some respects, its victims.” (Amazon blurb)

Why The Sisters? Why read about the Mitfords?

For me it starts with Nancy. I read The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate as a teenager and loved them both. They were like P.G. Wodehouse with the sharp edges left in. It was because of reading those books that I picked up Nancy Mitford’s non-fiction book about Louis XIV, The Sun King, one day, not long after I had my first kid. It was because of The Sun King, that I came to write my first novel, Charlatan.

Then there’s beautiful Diana, married to Oswald Mosely. And then there’s Unity – what a story – and that’s before I even to get to Jessica and Debo. Is that them all or have forgotten omitfordsne? Probably. Which is why I need to read this book.

Another reason is a little side project I’m working on – a book about famous sisters in history – and there might be another set of sisters (or two) featuring on my history wishes advent in the days ahead. Watch this space…

For those interested, there is a very watchable 45 minute documentary on Netflix right now called The Mitfords, a tale of two sisters. It focuses on Diana and Jessica (although the others are there to, making the title seem a bit silly). It features the history writer Laura Thompson who also has a book out about the sisters, but I’m picking Mary Lovell’s 2003 book because I’ve another book by Thompson on my Christmas list already.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has read either Lovell or Thompson’s Mitford books.

Or is there another must read book on the Mitfords that I should be reading first?

 

Parmesan Chese

History wishes is my Christmas Advent Calendar of non-fiction books I’d love to get my hands on. One book a day, every day until Christmas!

Kate xx

History wishes – a non-fiction advent calendar for 2018

Parmesan Chese

So tomorrow is the 1st of December and Christmas is officially open for business in our house. Child 3 has been trying to change that, embarking on a list for Santa designed on Canva (I kid you not) some weeks ago, but we have held resolute. On the side, however, I have been building up quite a list of books I’d love to get my hands on this year. All non-fiction and chosen for wildly different reasons, but all lined up and ready to share.

I’ll be posting one book a day. I’m excited to share my #historywishes and if you have read them already or are interested in any of the books I’m featuring, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy December!

Kate xx

Read for Free!

Free Kindle readthis weekend only

Just a quick post to share the exciting news that The Road to Newgate is free on Kindle for the next few days. Why free? Because the success of writing a novel and finding a publisher prepared to back it and send it out into the world properly edited and with a strong cover – wonderful though that is – means nothing without readers.

Here’s the link:

mybook.to/theroadtonewgate

Hoping for new readers and maybe some more reviews. Fingers crossed.

Nancy Jardine – new historical novel alert!

Today I’m happy to share news of a new historical novel from author Nancy Jardine. She’s visiting my blog to talk about her new release and other bookish things.

Introducing Agricola’s Bane by Nancy Jardine

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Nancy, why did you write this particular story?

Essentially, the next part of my clan adventures needed told!

Agricola’s Bane is Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series which charts the adventures of my Celtic Brigantes clan who originate in the hillfort of Garrigill (modern day Yorkshire/ England). Book 1 begins in AD 71 when the legions of Ancient Rome descend on Brigante territory, bent on subduing them to the will of Rome. By Book 4, we have moved on to AD 84 and the action is in Caledonia (modern day Aberdeenshire/ Scotland).

In Agricola’s Bane, Enya of Garrigill sets out from her Caledon ‘safe place’ to search for her brother and cousin who have not been seen since the Battle at Beinn na Ciche (end of Book 3). Ancient Roman historians would call this the Battle of Mons Graupius as was named by the Roman writer Cornelius Tacitus. It’s a dangerous choice for Enya to make since the tribal territories are seething with the legions of the Ancient Roman General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola as they make more and more temporary camps all the way to what is now the ‘Moray Coast’.

In my series, one family member may be a main character in one book, yet play a minor role in another book – though unless they have been killed off by a Roman gladius, the characters all hover in the background of Book4. It’s not quite a historical saga, but sort of…

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Do you have a favourite scene or character in Agricola’s Bane?

When young Enya (14 summers old) sets out to find her brother, she’s accompanied by two other warriors. Feargus of Monymusk is of similar age but Nith of Tarras is older (20) and a surrogate foster-brother. Having found a trail that looks like it will lead to her brother Ruoridh, they need to cross a fast flowing river. Feargus can’t swim and has to be dragged across as he also fears the river goddess Caela’s retribution. It’s thought by historians that the ancient Celts were deeply superstitious, as were the ancient Romans, and their religious adherence permeated every aspect of their day. They have only just revived poor Feargus when they have to flee from an attack by Roman auxiliaries. Though the Romans are on the far bank, one of their javelins spears Feargus thigh. Enya and Nith have to remove the spear tip before Feargus can hobble off with them to safety. This is just one of the more highly charged scenes in the story when there’s interaction with the Roman enemies.

What was your process in writing your latest novel? Did you outline? Did you write multiple drafts?

Very good questions! I originally made a brief outline plan but since the book development came in fits and starts, over many months, new outlines were made along the way. As the series progressed, I increased the amount of main characters so Agricola’s Bane has 5 povs. There’s Enya and Nith who have the lion’s share. Then there’s General Agricola who gives the Roman perspective, though he occupies a lesser role. And lastly there are short sections in Ruoridh and Beathan’s povs. Beathan and Agricola will be main characters in Book 5, so I wanted to introduce them in Book 4.

It’s taken me a few years to complete Agricola’s Bane for all sorts of reasons which include; less time to write than for previous books; writing and publishing another novel in between; doing lots of courses and heavy research on Roman Scotland. The list should also contain that after I started it, I had a period of writer’s block when I didn’t like how it was going and set it aside many times.

There have been chunks removed so it’s very hard to say how many drafts but certainly a lot more than one!

What novels would you recommend to readers – old and/or new reads qualify?

I’m relatively easily pleased as a reader and often love best the last book I’ve read (unless it’s been an awful one but that rarely happens). I sometimes dip back to my classics favourites like Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Rings, and various Charles Dickens. Newer books sometimes make an impact depending on my mood when reading. I mostly enjoy historical fiction and mysteries but do read other genres. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed heaps of Crooked Cat Books like Nicola Slade’s The House at Ladywell and The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard. Katharine Johnson’s The Silence was also a fabulous read of 2018.

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 2.53.32 PMAnd any non-fiction recommendations?

I’m pretty one track minded at present and steeped in the history of Roman Britain/ Roman Scotland since I do author presentations/talks on the subject in my home area of Aberdeenshire. If anyone is interested in Scottish history in general, I recommend the books of Alistair Moffat. The Sea Kingdoms was engrossing for the ‘Dark Ages’ and made me want to zoom forward and write about Pictish ‘Scotland’.

(Oh! Great. I’m putting this on my xmas list right now)

 

And finally (and really my favourite question…) What’s the best piece of advice you have for other writers?

Get comfortable with the amount of time you can find for your writing and don’t stress if things don’t come naturally. When I wasn’t managing to add more to my manuscript – mainly for domestic reasons and because life intrudes – I consoled myself by writing blog articles and doing interviews. It is still writing, though different. Marketing is a necessity but not the easiest of tasks and I’d again say don’t get stressed because the more books you have published the harder it is to market them all.

About Nancy and where to find her…

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Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries; historical fiction and time-travel historical adventure. Her current historical focus is Roman Scotland, an engrossing pre-history era because her research depends highly on keeping abreast of recent archaeological findings.

A member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Historical Novel Society, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband but life is never quiet or boring since her young grandchildren are her next-door neighbours. She regularly child minds them, those days being cherished and laughter filled.

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.nancyjardineauthor.com/

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG & http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine

 

Introducing Montbel by Angela Wren

Today I have an interview to share with author Angela Wren. Montbel is the third in her detective series set in France and featuring Jacques Forêt. Here’s the story:

CoverArtA clear-cut case? 

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

Thanks for joining me, Angela. First up, why did you write this story?

Montbel is the third story in my Jacques Forêt series of cosy crime novels set in south-central France.  When I planned the series I knew at the outset what the crime would be and what challenges my central characters would have to face.  So, way back in 2007/08 I knew I was going to write this story no matter what.  However, what I didn’t know, until I started my detailed planning for the novel, was that an incident, which occurred when I was in France 10 years ago, would pop into my head and inspire me to create one of the supporting characters.  That decision meant I then needed to do some research because the central theme of the book would reach much further back in time than I first envisaged.

Talk about a favourite scene or character in your novel.

As much as I love writing my central character, Jacques Forêt, he isn’t my favourite character.  Little Pierre Mancelle is – just don’t tell Jacques!  At the outset, with my 4-book timeline all done I had thought that I wouldn’t need Pierre until book 3.  I did my detailed planning for the book 1 – Messandrierre – and he still didn’t feature.  But as I was writing the first book Pierre kept running onto the page.  And when I edited him out of one scene he just popped up in a later scene.  Eventually, I went back to my timeline and gave him a proper role in all four books.

My favourite scene in Montbel for Pierre is in the chapter entitled ‘thursday, june 16th.  He’s with his parents at an event in Mende and he has something on his mind.  This particular scene came into my head almost fully formed as I was writing it and it remained pretty much as it was from first draft, other than bits and pieces of tweaking for the wording as I was editing.

It’s a favourite scene because it shows Pierre in a different light.  He’s recently changed schools and that hasn’t been easy for him.  His family is on the brink of a massive change and he doesn’t quite know how to handle that.  When Jacques notices his mood and tries to engage him in conversation, Pierre does what all kids do.  He skirts around the problem, then drops out the killer question and then moves onto something completely different, leaving Jacques nonplussed.  The scene, I hope, provides a little light relief from the building tension surrounding Jacques’ murder investigation, which is the central plot.

Describe your process in writing this book. (e.g. did you outline? Did you choose one pov and stick to it? What did you add? How many drafts did you write? How long did it take?

I’m quite scientific in some respects.  I had my timeline for all four books and to supplement that I drew up a chapter/scene plan for Montbel.  I use a spreadsheet to do this and on there I note down, characters involved, point of view, location and questions I want to be raised in a reader’s mind for each scene.  At the completion of this I usually have all the key scenes for the principle plotline.  Then I make some notes about the sub-plots and they usually remain in that form.  Then I think on it for a bit and then, having got my opening paragraph clear in my head I start writing.  I kind of keep on going after that as I write through my characters.

Every so often I stop and go back and crosscheck where I am with my plan.  Sometimes my characters take me off plan and then I need to decide whether I will stick with that or not.  If I need to edit at that point then I will before I continue writing.

Overall I think Montbel took me about 9 months to write.  Unfortunately I’m not able to write full-time as I work in a theatre, so my writing has to be scheduled in whenever I have a spare morning, afternoon or evening.  But I am getting very good at sticking to my scheduled writing time each week.

Can you share some book love? Please recommend at least one but no more than three novels you have read and loved.

lostWow, that’s a really tough question, there are so many that I could tell you about.  OK, I think I will choose The Lost Girl by D H Lawrence, Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy and By Gaslight by Steven Price.  The first two I’ve read and re-read several times.  The third one I read whilst in France recently and I know I will read it again – the narrative voice was so captivating.

Is there a work of non-fiction that you would like to share?

Edith Eger’s The Choice.  A moving and thought-provoking memoir written in stunningly beautiful prose.  Another book that I know I will read again.

What is the best piece of advice you have for other writers?

Never give up.

THIS IS MY FAVOURITE ANSWER!!! SO TRUE!

About Angela:

AngelaWrenAuthorPicHaving followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010.  My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Find out about, follow Angela and buy her books here:

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author : Angela Wren

Who doesn’t love a bargain?

For the first time since it came out in September 2016, Charlatan is on sale as an ebook for only $0.99 or 99p or equivalent across all platforms and countries! You can grab it now by clicking here: mybook.to/charlatan

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“A dark, tale of mystery, sorcery, and a woman’s desperate pursuit to charm the most powerful man in seventeenth-century France. A poisoning scandal at the court of King Louis XIV threatens even Athénaïs, his glamorous mistress. She seems unaware of the accusations made against her, but how far has she really gone to keep the love of the King?”

 

Having spent so much of the past year thinking about The Road to Newgate, (especially my characters Anne, Nat, William, Henry and, of course, Titus Oates) it feels weird to put Charlatan front and centre again and read through the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to make some social media adverts like this one:

charlatan by kate braithwaite-1

It’s my first book. The product of a long and steep learning curve and one I’m still on. I do love the cover, although I’m not sure I’ll ever read the insides again!! But it’s a pleasure to sit here with a cup of tea and look at some pictures of the characters I spent so much time with – only to abandon them when the book was complete.

Here are a few pictures I don’t think I’ve shared before. They are from my copy of The Affair of the Poisons by Frances Mossiker – a book which fell apart during the making of Charlatan!

I’m hoping a few new readers of The Road to Newgate will grab this chance to take a trip to 17th century Paris this week. I’ll be watching Amazon like a hawk, that’s for sure!

New book alert! – Costa del Churros

Today I’m welcoming Isabella May who has a new book coming out soon with Crooked Cat Books…

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Muchas gracias for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my brand new novel with Crooked Cat Books! COSTA DEL CHURROS will launch on September 19th and is another romantic comedy which fuses all things foodie, travel and spirituality. I’m keeping my fingers (and paws!) crossed that it’ll have as good a reception as its predecessors…

Why write about Spain?
My first two books, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar centred much of their activity around the quirky and mystical town of Glastonbury, UK.  But in actual fact I live in Spain nowadays and much as I relished the opportunity to write about the place where I spent my childhood through to late twenties, it was high time for a change of scene – as well as to prove to myself that I am not a One Trick Pony. Or should that be Cat?

Is Costa del Churros based on a fictional or real part of Spain?
Yes, Costa del Churros refers to the Costa del Sol, here in the gigantic province of Andalusia, where I live. I have traveled all over the country, but nowhere seems to make, eat or embrace churros (fried donut strips, often eaten dipped in a thick, velvety chocolate sauce and/or sprinkled liberally with sugar) with the aplomb of the people in this region. The churros play a central role throughout the book, used as a code word that brings four – very different – women together for flamenco lessons with their highly exuberant teacher, Carmen.

Here’s the blurb:

The rain in Spain doesn’t mainly fall on the plain…

Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina need more than the sweetness of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to save them from their unsavoury states of affairs.

Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town’s flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers?

One thing’s for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again.

Are these four women based on people you know?
bit of body textNot per se!
But Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina are definitely a beautiful fusion of some of the kaleidoscopically colourful characters I have met here over the past seven years. I wanted to paint a truthful picture of expat life in Spain (and quite possibly this will extend to other areas of The Mediterranean too). It’s all too easy to assume that a life in the sun is all soaking up its rays, sand, sea and sangria, but in actual fact, we take ourselves wherever we go! There’s absolutely no running away from your problems when you are home from home, be they romantic, financial, self-esteem based, or all of the above. Often, as soon as the novelty of the new lifestyle wears off, those issues are only exacerbated…
I thought it would make for an interesting (and comical) read to throw four women from four completely different backgrounds together, to add a little magic (a la Carmen) and to watch the fireworks – from a very safe distance.

Tell us a bit about Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera…
Well, she was a joy to write.
And I think all of us could do with a Carmen in our lives. Not only is she a talented flamenco teacher, but she has watched the way Franco’s repression of the female has gnawed away at her mother, and at the lives of countless women around her. So Carmen’s mission is one of empowerment. And she’s particularly passionate about encouraging women to have their cake and eat it. Truly, I’d love for nothing more than to click my fingers and magic her up every time I witness a female friend or family member declare in a café/restaurant/gelateria ‘Oh! I really shouldn’t indulge… I’ll start the diet again next week!’
For Carmen is the antidote to any and all of that prescribed female behaviour, an advocate for positive body image on beaches and sun-loungers the length of the coast. She’s a breath of fresh air injecting a much-needed confidence boost to all four of the main characters in the story.

If your tummy has started to rumble… here’s that all important Universal Amazon buying link: mybook.to/costadelchurros

You can find out about Isabella May’s other books, and follow her quirky cake and cocktail posts at these places:

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author
downloadIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.

Costa del Churros is her third novel.

Introducing – Jane Bwye, author

Read on here to find out about talented writer Jane Bwye. She is the author of two excellent novels set in Africa and is just about to branch out into non-fiction with a book I probably need to read quite urgently! But I’ll let Jane speak for herself…

Welcome, Jane! What can you tell us about how you came to write your novels, Breath of Africa and Grass Shoots?

breath of africa - 902kbThe story of my first novel, Breath of Africa, begins in the Mau Mau emergency of mid-20th century Kenya. I had intended to write a single book, addressing, among others, the problem of racialism in a former African colony. But I quickly realized the subject was so vast, that a sequel was necessary. A natural break in the lives of my characters came towards the end of the century, so I ended the book there.

But Grass Shoots isn’t just an ordinary sequel. It is very much a standalone book in its own right, as present-day Kenya is vastly different from the naïve idealism of a newly independent state. Racial problems have given way to something more sinister.

Power and politics have overridden concerns about the welfare of the people, and corruption has its hold on great and small alike. But there appears to be a glimmer of hope on the recent horizon.

Final coverThe story revolves around an interracial love triangle in a scenario of poverty, greed and violence, with a smattering of educated common sense. Corruption must be addressed, and the people are tiring of their leaders squabbling over power. The people want to better themselves. And I want my book to present a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. How can my characters turn into harbingers of a brighter future? Government to government aid cannot work reliably when corruption is rife.

Could a charity be channeled towards new dimensions, by empowering the people instead of turning them into “poor relations”? Emily – an AIDS orphan -, Paul, the son of her benefactor, and Sam – the product of an African/Eurasian liaison – believe and show that it can be done…

… which is why I wrote this book!

Do you have a favourite scene in Grass Shoots?

wildebeeste

May I let my book speak for itself? This scene comes in the final chapter of Grass Shoots, and as well as offering basic bush lore, it encapsulates my love for the wild open spaces of Africa:

Emily went out by herself to savour the magic of their special place… Reaching a bend, she looked to her left.

There was a loud snort of concern. A wildebeest stood poised for flight. They eyed each other, frozen with tension. He was big: he tossed his horns and stamped a foot, then snorted again. Emily stood her ground and so did he. Only a few yards separated them, and a feeling of unease spread through her. Help was out of reach in the house on the other side of the dam. If she retreated, the animal would chase her down. She held her breath, and eyed the surrounding long grass, looking for an escape route – and the wildebeest lowered its head. To her great relief, it continued sedately on its way across her path. She had broken the confrontation, and it no longer saw her as a threat.

For one long moment she had been a mere creature out there facing danger, tasting the fear experienced by wild animals every moment of their vulnerable lives. It was a humbling experience.

What can you share about your writing processes? Outline or no outline? Revisions? Changes in point of view?

I did outline the book, but only in a very broad sense. I kind of let my characters dictate their thoughts and actions within the chapters. This often leads to additions, and sometimes deletions in the final edits, to comply with my publisher’s requirements. I used several points of view, mostly between the three main characters. But I also experimented by changing to the present tense when writing in the head of Sam’s father, a key character throughout both books. I believe this technique helped to emphasize the intensity of his experiences and emotions. The book, together with the research, took me a year to write.

Can you recommend any books you have read and loved?

At a young age I was lured by the novels of Nevil Shute into a hankering to visit Australia. And The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough fulfilled so many of my yearnings for romance, that I have lost count of the number of times I have read it.

What about a movie or album?

I prefer curling up in a corner with a novel in my lap over any other form of media. There is only one film which to my mind can compare favourably with the book. Doctor Zhivago. I have seen it countless times – even more times than I have read the book, which is quite an admission. And the haunting music never fails to stir my romantic soul.

What is your best piece of advice for other writers?

coverpicOnce you have written your book, perfected it to the best of your ability, and perhaps achieved your dream of finding a publisher … now, you must put aside your deep involvement in the story. You need to turn yourself into a hard-nosed entrepreneur and act in a business-like manner to make it succeed. If you’d like to learn how to do this, I have a book launch coming up on 15th August 2018!

Connect with Jane at her website and blog or click on the covers to find out more about her books!

New book alert! The Thieftaker’s Trek by Joan Sumner

Congratulations to author Joan Sumner on her debut historical novel The Thieftaker’s Trek!, published today by Bastei Entertainment. I first met Joan at a Historical Novel Society conference and can’t wait to read her book. It arrived on my kindle this morning!

Here is the story:

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 7.27.24 AMRevenge   Abduction   Blackmail   Murder

It’s 1810. The industrial revolution in Britain is at its height. Enormous profits in the British cotton mills and factories are made, working around the illicit black slave trade, using white child slaves.

Frobisher, a London catcher of thieves is a widowed father with a dark past. He’s hired to find Harry, the young son of an impoverished army widow. The child is enticed from home to earn a penny. The trail leads the thief-taker out of the city onto the English canal network and beyond to Derbyshire.

Simultaneously, a murder takes Goldziher, a Bow Street detective and friend of Frobisher, into London’s Spitalfield slums. The involvement of minor nobility introduces political dimensions and concerns.

In both cases the witnesses are children which complicates matters for the investigators…

The crime novel is based on historical fact.

About the Author

joanJoan Sumner, MBA (Dundee)and Fellow of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, has a working background across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Semi-retired, she has settled in Midlothian, Scotland to write, closer to family and friends.

An award winning historical novelist, Joan formerly contributed self-help articles to a national weekly. Her travel abroad articles and occasional BBC radio contributions mostly starred her vintage MGB car.

Joan’s small garden hosts a family of hedgehogs, giving enjoyment to everyone she knows!

She is a member of the Society of Authors, the Edinburgh Writers’ Club and the National Trust for Scotland. She paints, plays tennis and golf, and loves to travel – particularly by car.

But her passion is weaving mystery stories around little known historical facts. You can follow her on linkedin/in/joan-s-sumner-144332a0/ and Facebook.

 

www.joansumner.com

Blog tour: The Secret Life of Mrs London by Rebecca Rosenberg

New & Final Tour Banner for Rebeccas blog tour

As a historical fiction fan, I was super happy to get the chance to read The Secret Life of Mrs London, by Rebecca Rosenberg. Here’s the scoop:

The Secret Life of Mrs. LondonSan Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

My Review

In the last few years I have read a fair few novels based around the wife/mistress/sister of a famous historical figure. Here are just some I could mention:

 

 

It’s a great idea – a way to explore a famous life through the eyes of the person closest to them, and to look at the pleasures – and sometimes perils – of living with and loving someone who is highly driven and creative. So how would this one stack up? Well, for me, The Secret Life of Mrs London can take a place on the shelf next to any of these. It has all the same hallmarks of great writing, engaging characters, relationship drama and a vibrant evocation of a different time and place.

Mrs London, Charmain, is a complex character. She loves Jack London but feels her own writing is lost in the tide of his success, his reliance on her as his secretary and his ambitions to build a California mansion, Wolf House. Jack also maintains separate sleeping quarters, leaving Charmain sexually frustrated and open to temptation. This comes in the form of handsome Harry Houdini, another fascinating character, who brings with him into Charmain’s life, his child-like wife, Bess.

The Secret Life of Mrs London is a warm, engaging portrait of a woman struggling to find herself. Like the best of these ‘wife’ stories, although my initial attraction for picking them up is find out more about the famous name, as a reader, I stay for the wife’s story. Charmain struggles to put herself first. She has to remind herself that this is her life, even as she fears being “nothing without Jack.” How she succeeds and/or fails had me totally gripped. Highly recommended.

About the Author:

Rebecca_Rosenberg__novelist_1California native Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where she and her husband founded the largest lavender product company in America, Sonoma Lavender. A long-time student of Jack London’s work and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian, Rosenberg is a graduate of the Stanford Writing Certificate Program. THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON is her first novel, following her non-fiction, LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA.

Rebecca Rosenberg’s next historical novel is GOLD DIGGER the story of BABY DOE TABOR.

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