My Review of Walls of Silence by Helen Pryke for #RBRT #FridayReads

wall of silence

I received this book from the author as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

 I gave  Walls of Silence 3*

Book Description:

Living in the mountains of Sicily, Maria has the perfect childhood until the tragic accident that changes her life forever. The events that follow will take her away from her home town to the streets of Milan, in an ever-increasing spiral of abuse and deception. Will she ever be able to trust anyone ever again? Set in turbulent 1960s Italy, Walls of Silence is the story of a girl who must find the courage and strength to survive her family’s betrayal and the prejudices of her country.

My Review:

First of all, I’d like to say how fascinating the Book Description is. Just enough to tempt the readers in without giving away the story, as so often happens.

I always try not to give spoilers with my reviews but with Walls of Silence I found it difficult to write the following without giving any of the story away. I hope I’ve succeeded.

 To say I enjoyed the whole of this book isn’t totally true; I enjoyed Helen Pryke’s writing style and the fact that all the way though she convinced me of the danger to the protagonist, Maria, if she revealed what was happening to her. There are deeply disturbing sections and the actions of some of the characters are distressing. It is a dark book.

I did have a few problems with pace of Walls of Silence. After being instantly drawn into the story through the Prologue, it then slowed, drastically. I love Prologues and this one was strong; I was intrigued by Pietro’s story. But then the abrupt change to Maria’s story; the flashback, left me a bit stranded. I kept wanting to know the reactions of both Pietro and  his and Maria’s daughter, Antonella, who, presumably , were learning about Maria’s life together. I have to be honest though; I’m not at all sure how else the author could have written it. I just wanted more of these two characters after such an interesting introduction to them

I felt the first half of the first chapter was too drawn out (although I realised later that it was to introduce some of the characters we, as readers, would meet again towards the end of the book). But  I did like the second half; Maria’s early family life in Sicily and the descriptions of the characters in her community, ruled so completely by the Catholic Church during the era of the 1950/60s.

This variation in the pace of the plot, some parts too drawn out, others too quickly passed over, was, I felt, a little awkward.

But I thought the characters that Maria met throughout her difficult life were well drawn and the dialogue was believable and rounded out most of them.

However I did have a problem with the relationship between the protagonist and Pietro; it did feel a little contrived and unsatisfactory. to me as a reader.

 Still, as I’ve said I did like the author’s style of writing, I found the descriptions of the settings brilliantly evocative and the story very moving. And Walls of Silence is an excellent title; it gives the claustrophobic sense on enclosure, secrecy, despair that Maria and the other women experience.

And, I must say i do like the cover; to me it embodies the whole story.

After I wrote this review I read the book description. Part of the proceeds from this book will go to a women’s centre in the UK. This kind of statement always gives me a problem; I feel guilty if I don’t rate the book higher. But then I always try to give an honest review, so will leave the above as written.

What I can say yet again, is that Helen Pryke writes well and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/2qylmKx

 Amazon.com:http://amzn.to/2pDzQEa 

Today I’m interviewing #author Dianne Noble about her latest book Oppression#FridayReads

Dianne

I was so intrigued by the sound of this book by Diane that I couldn’t resist chatting with her  about it.

 Hello, Dianne and welcome.

Thank you, Judith, good to be here

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Oppression tells the story of Beth, married to a rather controlling man, who witnesses the attempted abduction of a young girl in a North Yorkshire town. She manages to prevent it but ultimately can’t stop the girl, Layla, being sent to Egypt in a forced marriage. In time, Beth finds the courage to defy her husband and travels to Cairo to look for Layla. Appalled to find her living in the City of the Dead, a sprawling necropolis where homeless people live, she nevertheless is filled with admiration for the way Layla has started a one woman crusade to persuade other oppressed women to rebel and she vows to help her.

It’s a must-read because of the subject – we can all be oppressed by others if we are not strong – and also because Egypt is portrayed so evocatively you can imagine yourself there.

  104 KB

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

I believe it does. We must all try to find courage, however little it might be, to address wrongs. Some of us are braver than others but we can all be brave to some degree.

What is your favourite part of the book?

I thinks it’s when Beth is sitting in pitch blackness and abject fear, in the tomb house where Layla lives. These houses incorporate a grave – Beth is sitting over one – and they are without water, sanitation or power. She doesn’t know where Layla is but, despite her terror, she realises that she herself is leading an oppressed life, albeit in a lesser way, and decides to put her own house in order.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I like to feel I have complete control but often the characters behave in a way I hadn’t planned. For example, when Beth is caught up in a political demonstration and is rescued by rugby playing Harry, I hadn’t planned on their relationship becoming physical. Beth, however, had other ideas…

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Beth’s appalling mother who has found religion, become one of the Chosen and feels she is on a fast track to sainthood, yet is totally lacking in compassion.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It deals with the appalling treatment meted out to women in Afghanistan by the Taliban and is the sort of book whose harrowing details keep one awake at night. I in no way consider myself a feminist, but a humanist. There are the most terrible injustices dealt out to women all over the world and this is only one of the many books which deals with it.

Who is your favourite author?

Probably Kate Atkinson for the sheer complexity of her novels, beginning with Behind the Scenes at the Museum which had me hooked for life as a fan.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?

There are quite a few, I’m a bit accident prone. When I worked for Barclays Bank in the 70s I ran a sub-branch and for security reasons a taxi would transport me there each day to and from the main branch. One memorable day I arrived back and as I slammed the car door shut, it closed on the hem of my rather smart suede skirt which fastened top to bottom with the metal poppers you sometimes get on jeans. The taxi drove away and the pop pop pop was audible as my skirt was ripped from my body and I stood in North Street Rugby in my knickers and tights. How I wished I’d worn an underskirt.

What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?

Travel gives me the settings. I have no problem at all imagining where my characters will be but what they will be doing takes longer. The actual plots take work, an idea here, another one there, and eventually they form a cohesive story. I envy those whose plots arrive in their heads like a bolt from the blue. It’s never happened to me!

Where can we find you online?

Website:  www.dianneanoble.com

Twitter: @dianneanoble1

FB: facebook.com/dianneanoble

 

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today With Adrienne Morris #Mondayblogs

 Until the beginning of July I’ll be chatting, as I have been  over the last few months, with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Adrienne

Hi,Adrienne, thanks for joining us here today.

Many thanks for inviting me, Judith.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

My father was an Irish/German police officer who could entertain crowds for hours with his policing tales. He saw the humor, pathos and hope in every dysfunctional situation he encountered. My mother was the quiet storyteller. She told us about ourselves by retelling (as if things happened only yesterday) all the human events involving our gene pool going back centuries. My mother also loved to read to us. Pride and Prejudice was her favorite.

How long have you been writing?

My 1st grade teacher illustrated a story I wrote about a kitten who loved to take showers before taking tea. I envied writers throughout life but avoided doing it seriously until after a blood clot almost took my life.

What kind of writing do you do?

I’ve wrestled with what to call my writing. Family saga? Historical fiction? Big house story?  I’m obsessed with family dynamics, history and flawed people. Once a reader said he was uncomfortable with how often my characters made the wrong decisions. Welcome to my world!

 Peeling back the layers of my characters’ inner worlds is the most exciting part of writing. Beneath the respectable facades we all present there are mixed emotions and secrets we keep hidden. I find people almost always more lovable for their flaws. If you’re looking for perfect heroes and villains you won’t find them in my books. People are far more interesting than that.

What are some of the references you used while researching your first books?

The House on Tenafly Road 2

My first novel, The House on Tenafly Road, was inspired by a partial copy of a 19th century missionary woman’s diary. Her husband was in the US military after the Civil War presumably fighting Indians or protecting the newly freed slaves of the South. My plan was to write a short story about the woman’s misguided attempts to “civilize” the Indians, but one day while doing laundry it came to me that her husband, John Weldon, had a secret morphine addiction due to treatment given to him during the war.

This led me to the Army War College where sober and kind old gentleman soldiers served up treat after treat of army memorabilia and precious relics. If I wasn’t writing I was reading (a great many 19th century army wives’ journals and books—back then they traveled in the field with their men). I joined a Civil War re-enacting group and donned corset and hoops to get a taste of the era (playing a nurse and writer (I was jokingly asked to play a prostitute once or twice but demurred). Many researchers at small institutions lent their help for little tidbits to include in the novel which grew and grew.

While my family went to amusement parks, I scribbled away taking notes in libraries anxiously glancing at the clock and not wanting the days to end.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

My love of humanity shines through most, but it is a gritty love. My characters go through the wringer. Each has a burden to carry and scars to prove all they’ve been through. I couldn’t have written my books before going through plenty of trials of my own. My parents instilled in me a sense of compassion but were both crazy enough to give me plenty of dysfunctional material to work with.

What did you enjoy most about writing these books?

My favorite part of writing is when the characters take over and become real. Although I know where I want them to be in the end, I’m often not sure how they’ll get there. When reading a section later I’m sometimes surprised and delighted by a witty or awful thing said by a character. It no longer feels like I wrote any of it at all.

What inspires you?

Anything 19th century inspires me. A Civil War historian gave me an old nib pen and blue/black ink with a copy of the alphabet as it was written in the 1860’s. I wrote my first two novels using that pen and ink. As soon as I picked up the pen (even if it was in the loud classroom where I worked) I was immediately brought back into my story.

I also love old houses, Aaron Copland music and walks in the woods. I’m a people watcher and love hearing (and stealing) stories from friends and family. They don’t mind.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?

My four years of Catholic school education were a huge gift. The nuns and brothers were sticklers about good grammar. They didn’t expect us to magically understand gerunds. I loved grammar.

Writing every day was and is the best teacher.

Are you a full time writer?

I’ve cut out almost every activity in my life that isn’t a necessity so I can write. I do have a family, grow a lot of our food and take care of our dairy goats so my life is very full. Visitors love coming to the peaceful farm but leave feeling exhausted for me. I sometimes think of cutting back this or that thing but I love everything. That’s a good place to be in life.

What are some day jobs you have held? Have any impacted your writing?

I worked on a number of organic farms where people elevated the organic life to almost religious status. Only certain viewpoints were acceptable if you wanted to be embraced by the other workers. This inspired my character Buck Crenshaw’s trip to a 19th century utopian society where he gets taken in by a charismatic leader who convinces him that God has special plans for him. 

As a teacher I helped my students to become more confident writers as I tried to become one myself. Their enthusiasm and courage inspired me. I also discovered the abandoned house that was the inspiration for The House on Tenafly Road across the street from the school I taught at.

 The Dew That Goes Early Away 2

How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Now that I have a Kindle I enjoy eBooks, but I still prefer to read on paper. As a writer I LOVE eBooks! It’s so fun to be able to play with covers and make changes to your work. It’s great to have control over pricing and marketing. Indie publishing is a great way to go if you love adventure and learning new skills.

Who doesn’t dream of a big book deal? But once I realized how little control you have in conventional publishing and how few books ever make an author a lot of money I was convinced that alternative publishing was for me.

What do you think is the future of reading and writing?

Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time. Some people predict books and reading will fall away as people consume visual media, but there will always be readers. If we’re honest, a lot of people weren’t reading even before the digital revolution. There is a trend toward embracing retro things. Books may be part of that trend.

I remember getting an encouraging rejection letter once. The agent loved my book. She told me she put her heart into convincing her co-workers that it should be published but said that they could not get behind a big book that didn’t fit perfectly into a genre. They were afraid of my new author status as well.

Discoverability as an indie author is a challenge, but I was struck recently when prowling the local bookstore by how many books on the shelves probably wouldn’t be purchased or read. As writers we have to figure out how to remain sane despite not being JK Rowling.

I do this by reminding myself that I’m living the dream no matter the number of sales. I also greatly appreciate each review and each friend I make as I live the writer’s life.

What projects are you working on at present?

I’ve just finished editing the next book in The Tenafly Road Series. My cover designer and I met for a photo shoot. Our model was a little hung-over, I suspect, but it was a fun time dressing her in a ball gown I used when doing living history years ago.

Weary of Running 2

Before starting the edit on the final book in the series I’m finishing up designing my author website (my husband gave me the challenge). This has been a scary thing for me. Plugins, security, etc.  Not my strong suit but I’m really proud of the new site: adriennemorris.com.

What made you want to become a writer?

It was a calling. For all of my life it was there. I tried to escape it—such is the nature of fear of failure—but it kept coming back, this urge to write. Now I wonder what took so long!

What does your typical day look like?

Milk the goats, feed the sheep and chickens. Drive kid to school. Write. Pick the kid up from school. Milk the goats, feed the sheep and chickens. Make supper. Send kid to bed. Social media stuff or read. Bed.

This changes with the seasons. Some months are spent writing in the field as the animals graze. August is about tomatoes and cucumbers. Visitors usually swamp the farm then too so little writing gets done. Autumn is a good time for research and planting crops that come up in spring—like new books!

What is your writing style?

I’m not sure but my influences are Wallace Stegner, George Eliot and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The toughest criticism is the stuff you know is true. J  When I published my first novel I did it as a dare. When it was reviewed and picked as an Editors’ Choice book for the Historical Novel Society I was thrilled, but I still knew that there were some grammatical and typo errors (I’d paid someone to edit the book but he confessed that he got too into the story to correct much and assured me that a publisher would take care of that—he assured me I’d get an agent easily–lol).

When a review came in saying that the book was “captivating, heartbreaking and inspiring but horribly edited,” I knew I had some more work to do. I revised the manuscript and felt much better about the whole thing.

What has been the best compliment?

I love when people tell me my characters feel like family to them.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

When writing about flawed humanity there’s no better book to read than the Bible. I thought the book was mainly about judgement until I read it. Now I see that it is about imperfect people being used in a great redemption story. I love happy endings. My characters are reflections of different parts of myself; the good, the bad, the ugly. I love writing redemption stories. We are all so messy, but I like believing that through love we can help to redeem each other.

Links to find Adrienne:

My Review of Queen of Trial and Sorrow by Susan Appleyard #RBRT #FridayReads

Queen of Trial and Sorrow by [Appleyard, Susan]

 

I was given this book by the author as  a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT in exchange for a fair review.

 I gave Queen of Trial and Sorrow  4* out of 5*

 Book Description:

A B.R.A.G. Medallion winner, this is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of King Edward IV and the mother of the Princes in the Tower. As an impoverished widow, she was wooed and won by the handsome young king and believed her dreams had come true. But she was soon swept up in the War of the Roses, enduring hardship and danger as her husband struggled to keep his throne. When he died Elizabeth was unable to protect her family against the ruthless ambitions of the man he trusted above all others. It was the king’s brothers, the unstable Duke of Clarence and the loyal Duke of Gloucester, who would prove to be Elizabeth’s most dangerous enemies.

My Review:

 I really liked this novel. I like the author’s style of writing; told in first person point of view from Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth, it is almost as though she is holding a one-way conversation with the reader. Although I found it a compact and exacting read that took a lot of concentration (I am a very slow reader) I enjoyed this interpretation of  Elizabeth Woodville’s life in Queen of Trial and Sorrow.  Every emotion resonates through each chapter and throughout all the years that we are following her; the happiness, the sadness, the fears and apprehensions. The main plot of her time, before, during  and after the Court years is threaded through with subplots of intrigues and politics.

There is no doubt whatsoever that an enormous amount of research has preceded the writing of this book; it’s a fascinating account of the era.

 The characters are multi-layered and some were ever-changing as time went by depending on the intrigues and striving for personal gains.  Both those characters who are portrayed as good and those shown as wickedly self serving are plausible; their actions believable – if at times inconceivably cruel or dangerous.

 The dialogue was written as I imagined was spoken at the time; the syntax and the language rang true to that period for me. And it was easy to follow which character was speaking even without the dialogue tags.

 The descriptions of the settings; the buildings and the places the characters moved around in, the clothes, the ceremonies were all very evocative. The only  problem  I had was that sometimes I felt these descriptions were a little laboured and ‘heavy’. I would have preferred a lighter touch; I thought these sections slowed the story down

However, this is a very small objection and I’m sure anyone who loves to read historical  novels will love Queen of Trial and Sorrow . I have no hesitation at all in recommended this book by Susan Appleyard

Buying links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2qGE6EB

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2pGiV77

 

 

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Jane McCulloch #MondayBlogs

 Over the last few months and into July I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

jane mcculloch headshot

Welcome Jane, thank you for being here today.

 Thank you for the chance to chat here, Judith

Tell us, about your writing; does writing energise or exhaust you?                                                                                    

Both!

What are common traps for aspiring writers?  

To think it is easy!

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? 

No, but confidence helps.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?                         Perhaps a bit of both.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?                No.  Emotions and imagination are the tools you can’t do without.

Full Circle: Volume 3 (Three Lives Trilogy)

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?        

I know several, but one writer in particular has helped me and become my mentor. (Stephen Carver)

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?                                                         

Both – in the family saga there was a link between each of the three books.  My next book stands on its own.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Re-write and don’t be afraid of making major changes or cuts.

Triangles in Squares (Three Lives Trilogy Book 2)

What is the first book that made you cry?                                                                                  Jane Eyre – the death of Helen Burns.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I came to writing fiction very late after a career of writing and directing in the theatre – so it was difficult to change to fiction.  Once the first book was published I knew I was on the right lines.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?                                                             Paid advice (TLC) 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

When reading “The Forsyte Saga” and quickly moved into that world.

Parallel Lines: Book One of the Three Lives Trilogy

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?  

A great deal – but I have been lucky enough to meet some fascinating people.  However –  general observation of people around you is vital to building characters.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? 

At this moment, only one.

What does literary success look like to you?        

Interest and appreciation from readers.

What’s the best way to market your books?   

I wish I knew.  I’m hopeless.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?         

If the book has a specific background I do a great deal research.  If it from my imagination I don’t need to – except to check facts.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?                                                       Anything creative has a spiritual element.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?           I’m never quite sure I have got into the male head!

How many hours a day do you write?                                                                                           This varies – depending on how the writing is going.

How do you select the names of your  characters?                                                                  This is something I take great trouble with and enjoy.  I try and make the name fit the character.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?                                                 

So far I have been lucky and had mainly good reviews.  I try to be fair and if a bad review is valid I want to learn from it.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will   find?                        

Maybe only recognition of traits in a character that a few people will see.

What was your hardest scene to write?    

I think those that were nearest to me emotionally, i.e. someone dying in the last book of the Trilogy.

What is your favourite childhood book?                                                                                      

A little unknown book called “Groundsel and Necklaces” written and illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker.  It still moves me to tears.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?                                                         Making an actual start.  Once the first paragraph is written, I’m off.

Does your family support your career as a writer?  

Yes they do, in that they take an interest.

How long on average does it take you to write a  book?                                                          It really depends on the sort of book but on average about 6 months.

Jane has been quite conservative with her answers so I thought I would add  a little more about her here:

Since leaving the Central School of Speech and Drama – a long time ago – I have worked as a writer, playwright, librettist – and theatre and opera director.
After a long association with London’s famous Old Vic Theatre I formed a company of my own, The English Chamber Theatre. Dame Judi Dench is the President.
Since its formation I have written, devised and directed over thirty works – many of them biographical in content.-and because of the nature of chamber work they had small casts and I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of our greatest actors including Sir Derek Jacobi, Fenella Fielding, James Bolam, Timothy West and many others.
In 2005 I moved from theatre to opera directing and for the company Opera UK I wrote several English versions of the librettos including ‘The Merry Widow’, ‘Carmen’ and ‘La Traviata’.
I also wrote the libretto for an Easter Oratorio ‘The People’s Passion’ which was televised for BBC1 with Jessye Norman and Sir Thomas Allen heading the cast.
I wrote an original opera for children ‘Hello Mr Darwin’ and a Christmas carol, ‘This Christmastide’ which was sung first by Jessye Norman and has since become very popular both in the States and the UK.
My writing work also includes, work for the radio, television and recording studio.
Now I seem to be concentrating on novels. My first, ‘Parallel Lines’ was published in January 2015. It is the first in a family saga trilogy. The second book, ‘Triangles in Squares will be published later this year. The last in the trilogy, ‘Full Circle’ will be published in 2016.

And a teasing taster of Jane’s new book to come; publishing date to follow soon

Image may contain: 2 people, text and close-up

Find Jane here: http://amzn.to/2pLqN8O

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2pjSZOn

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2oYdopG

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today With Caroline Warfield#MondayBlogs

Over the last couple of months I’ve been chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me and I’ll be continuing into July. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Carol Roddy - Author

Welcome Caroline, and thank you for being here today.

Thank you for interviewing me, Judith.

Firstly, please tell us how came to write a family sagas?

I didn’t set out to do that at first. When I wrote my first historical romance I created four friends, envisioning boyhood backstory for them. Once I created my first characters and began to write, however, their web of family and friends grew quickly. When I finished the four books I had planned for my Dangerous series, there was a brief moment in which I wondered what I would do next. Characters from all four books, the children and relatives of my heroes and heroines began clamoring to have their stories told. They are standing in line with little patience.

The obvious next question is, do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

It is a bit of both. They speak up in snatches and then go elusive on me. I often envision the ending first, but I have to figure out each main characters turning point point, that spot in the center of the book where they decide to make a change that impacts the entire rest of the story. James Scott Bell calls that the “mirror moment.” Usually once I get that the characters and I are on good enough terms that the story picks up speed, as if they say, “Ah, you understand me now. Let’s tell this story.”

Is your next series open-ended do you have a pre-set series arc?

My series title is Children of Empire, and all the books will be set just before or in the early years of Victoria’s reign.  Long term it is open ended, but I envision sets of three with interrelated series arcs. The first set involves three cousins. The Reluctant Wife is Book 2 of that set. Their lives have been torn apart by lies and deceit (it won’t suprise anyone that a woman was involved) and they have been driven to the far reaches of the empire. Over the course of three books they struggle to find their way home. I mean that literally in some cases and metaphorically as well. The cousins all appeared first as boys in my holiday novella, A Dangerous Nativity. The sons and daughter of the hero and heroine of my first book Dangerous Works are beginning to speak loudly now, asking for their arc to be next. I understand they are all scholars of some sort. At least one is an archaeologist and another wishes to study the plant life in far off Australia.  Time will tell what we decide to do.

3covers

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I had a harsh review recently, that gave me pause. Each of my books is also a standalone romance. I do not write particularly explicit scenes, but my belief is that in fictional romance as well as life, sex happens, it binds people together. I try to focus my sensual scenes on relationship and emotion, and generally those scenes occur late in the book, deep into the relationship. One book is an exception.  An impulsive indulgence occurs early in Dangerous Weakness because my goal with the hero (who in the other books was always in perfect control) was to have him fail, require him to seek forgiveness, and end with him begging for help. The reviewer couldn’t make it past the rather abrupt sexual episode and told me so in no uncertain terms. I think authors of romance are often between a rock and a hard place on this subject. Too much? too little?  Even attempts to add heat ratings fall flat, because peoples comfort levels differ. I’m still chewing on that one.

What has been the best compliment?

I love to hear that the story surprised them, that twists were unexpected, that the unusual setting delighted. Best of all I like to hear, “I can’t wait to read the next one.”

What do you like best about this next book?

The Reluctant Wife begins in India and ends in England; the center is a journey. I love journeys. The hero, a clueless male with more honor than sense, never stops trying to do the right thing, even if he occasionally gets confused about what that is. The heroine is a courageous wounded duck with more love bottled up than she finds comfortable. They fall in love in spite of themselves and have to figure out how to make a life together. My favorite character, however, is the hero’s daughter, Meghal, a precocious and intrepid six year old who has spent her  whole life in a small village in Bengal, but who isn’t fazed  by  steamships, camels, wealthy cousins, or villainous arsonists. She believes family matters most and makes sure her father knows it too. One of my beta readers has already said she can’t wait for Meghal’s story. That one will happen around 1850. Hmm—another voice calling for a story.

TheReluctantWife_850

Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?

If you mean to write a single title novel? No. I have participated in anthologies, however. In fact, my novella “Lord Edmund’s Dilemma,” a sweet Regency, will be in A Holiday in Bath, which comes out May 9. With my friends the Bluestocking Belles, I am part of an annual holiday anthology. A Dangerous Nativity was in one of them.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

My husband is delighted to see me happy and productive and home. Some folks who knew me as a technology manager are astounded. Some of my cousins actually read the books and share them with people. That tickles me. Some, of course, ignore me, and that’s fine. Historical romance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Do you write alone or in public?

Alone.  My office has windows all around so I can stare out at trees and birds.

Music or silence?

Music. Each book has its own mood. This one lent itself to movie sound tracks. I listened to a lot of Titanic, Braveheart, and The Last of The Mohicans.

Do you set goals?

I try for 1-2000 words a day first thing in the morning. it is hard to keep to it when I’m promoting a new release.

What comes next?

My next book, Holiday in Bath.  A Holiday in Bath (Timeless Regency Collection Book 7)

The Unexpected Wife is due for October release.

Find Caroline here:

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Amazon Author http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7

Twitter @CaroWarfield

Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

 

My Review of The Mistress of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon #RBRT #FridayReads

#RBRT Review Team

mistrtes of blackstairs

I was given this book by the author as a member of #RBRT in return for an honest review

I gave The Mistress of Blackstairs 4*out of 5*

The Book Blurb:

Everyone thought she was dead…

In 18th century Covent Garden, Madam Moineau, is the mistress of Blackstairs, an establishment catering to the finest clients in London.

The mysterious, veiled lady of Paris was better known in the past as a former courtesan and went by the considerably less exotic moniker of Georgina Radcliffe, or Georgie to her friends.

In the winter of 1785 two men appear in Madam Moineau’s life.

Rogue artist Anthony Lake has recently returned from Europe. Lake is on his own assignment, searching the streets of London for the daughter he only recently discovered he had fathered.

He learns that the child’s mother is dead, brutally killed and Anthony finds himself on an unexpected mission to avenge his ex-lovers’ murder.

Nearly ten years after he left Madam Moineau, then known as Georgina, for dead, Viscount Edmund Polmear returns to London.

He has a new fiancé in tow and is soon to be found around Blackstairs, seeking a further mistress for his own pleasure.

His sudden appearance is a shock for the victim that he believed he left for dead, forcing Madam Moineau to face the horrors of her own past head on.

Anthony Lake and Madam Moineau’s lives become inevitably and inextricably entwined as they find themselves up against the fearsome and unforgiving Viscount Polmear.

My Review:

Although the story has a slow start for me, I thoroughly  enjoyed this book once I  persevered. Catherine Curzon has obviously researched the era well and I do like her style of writing.

 The characters come alive on the page with the excellent, drip-fed descriptions of their appearances. Even minor characters are well rounded and easily envisaged. I especially liked the many layered portrayal of the protagonist, Georgina Radcliffe aka Madam Moineau whose back story is revealed in a steady and interesting style throughout. And her foster daughter, Molly, shown to be a child of the streets, behaves just as I would expect; living where and how she exists. Interestingly she is portrayed with a mixture of pathos and humour. Anthony Lake; an empathetic and charming character, even though shown to be a  bit of a rogue, I liked as soon as he put on an appearance. As for the  Viscount Polmear…instantly dis-likeable, as all good antagonists should be.

A lot of the story is carried on dialogue which is strong and it is easy to follow who is speaking even without dialogue tags.

 Although it is a time- honoured and steadily paced plot (most of the time) of ‘ boy meets girl’ and initially disliking each other, the story is so multi-faceted and played out in such an intriguing way that I read it in one sitting.

I so wanted to give The Mistress of Blackstairs  five stars but there were a couple of disappointments for me.  I love novels that give me a sense of place through descriptions using all five senses and although the interior settings were brilliant I got little sense of the streets, of the places in London at the at time (except for the lovely descriptions of the fires on the corners of the streets), that the characters move around in.

 And, although the lead up to the ending is exciting, the actual denouement feels too rushed and, I’m afraid, a little predictable, although I accept it would be disappointing (for me anyway) if it hadn’t factually ended as it did.

 All in all though, an excellent read and one I have no hesitation in recommending to readers who enjoy historical fiction.