2019 Release: Queen Victoria: Daughter, Wife, Mother, Widow by Lucy Worsley


Queen Victoria: Daughter, Wife, Mother, Widow by Lucy Worsley


Publication Date: January 8, 2019
St. Martin's Press

Genre: Biography

The story of the queen who defied convention and defined an era

Perhaps one of the best known of the English monarchs, Queen Victoria forever shaped a chapter of English history, bequeathing her name to the Victorian age. In Queen Victoria, Lucy Worsley introduces this iconic woman in a new light. Going beyond an exploration of the Queen merely as a monarch, Worsley considers Victoria as a woman leading a truly extraordinary life in a unique time period. The book is structured around the various roles that Victoria inhabited— a daughter raised to wield power, a loving but tempestuous wife, a controlling mother, and a cunning widow—all while wearing the royal crown.

Far from a proto-feminist, Queen Victoria was socially conservative and never supported women’s rights. And yet, Victoria thwarted the strict rules of womanhood that defined the era to which she gave her name. She was passionate, selfish, and moody, boldly defying the will of politicians who sought to control her and emotionally controlling her family for decades. How did the woman who defined Victorian womanhood also manage to defy its conventions?

Drawing from the vast collection of Victoria’s correspondence and the rich documentation of her life, Worsley recreates twenty-four of the most important days in Victoria's life including her parents' wedding day, the day she met Albert, her own wedding day, the birth of her first child, a Windsor Christmas, the death of Prince Albert, and many more. Each day gives a glimpse into the identity of this powerful, difficult queen as a wife and widow, mother and matriarch, and above all, a woman of her time.

"Worsley gives us Victoria in all her infinite variety―queen and mother, matriach and minx. I loved " ―Daisy Goodwin, author of The American Heiress, The Fortune Hunter and Victoria: A Novel

"A wonderfully fresh, vivis and engaging portrait." ― Jane Ridley, author of Bertie: A Life of Edward VII

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

Interview with Matthew Willis & J.A. Ironside & Giveaway of A Black Matter for the King

Hello, dear readers! Happy Friyay! Today I am super excited to be hosting authors Matthew Willis & J.A. Ironside. Their latest book and the last in the Oath and Crown dulogy, A Black Matter for the King, was just released and they are currently on blog tour with HF Virtual Book Tours.

I hope you enjoy the interview and please don't forget to enter the giveaway!



Hello Matthew & J.A. (Jules) and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about A Black Matter for the King!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your novel?

Jules: Ordinarily I write sci-fi and fantasy, and even when I dip into history for inspiration or setting, I’m usually coming at it from a fantastical angle. So it was an interesting change to write something that was devoid of any fantasy or supernatural elements. A Black Matter for the King tackles one of those pivot points in history that most probably changed its course – the Battle of Hastings. In addition, it explores the events directly leading up to the battle and the aftermath. Whereas the previous book, An Argument of Blood, explores the political wranglings and machinations from around 1045 onwards. The interesting thing with the Battle of Hastings is that it was really only the culmination of decades of simmering conflict between two very different nations and cultures, with at least two versions of the Medieval Christian Church throwing an arm in too. In scope, the whole situation was far broader than one decisive battle. Although the very nature of the battle deciding the fate of these two nations has naturally leant itself to a lot of romanticism and perhaps some oversimplification. What Matt and I have done with the Oath and Crown Duology, is to give a much bigger picture of the overall situation, whilst exploring the religious and cultural clash between the Saxons and the Normans.

Matt: I’m a bit of a polyglot, writing-wise. I write historical and speculative fiction, and historical non-fiction tending towards the technical – books about historic military aircraft and so on. Jules has covered A Black Matter for the King really succinctly so I don’t feel I need to add anything there, fortunately.

How did the idea come up between you two to co-write the Oath and Crown duology?

Jules: I think Matt’s exact words were ‘does anyone fancy writing a Battle of Hastings book with me?’ I thought it sounded like fun. I was right.

Matt: That’s about the size of it. I heard that Penmore Press was looking for a book about William the Conqueror, which was out of my usual line (I tend to write much more recent history) but sounded intriguing and I wanted to give it a go. As it was a new project I thought I’d ask around and see if anyone wanted to co-write it. Foolishly, I thought it would be much easier to write half a novel each! As it turned out, we each wrote half of a duology.

What type of research did you do for writing A Black Matter for the King?

Jules: I read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and various books on Saxon Britain. I also read a lot of Anglo-Saxon poetry and whatever I could get hold of in terms of Anglo-Saxon mythology. Nordic mythology too – the Saxons weren’t so very far removed from the Nords and the Danes in 11th C Britain – and I dipped into Welsh history and mythology too, since there was unease between the ‘Wealas’ and the Saxons. While the myths and poetry weren’t directly useful because it mostly wasn’t quite the correct time period, I think it really helped create an authentic seeming Saxon mindset. It’s hard with historical fiction to walk the line between creating characters a modern audience can identify with and creating characters that are authentically of their time. We don’t know for sure how the Saxons thought but a good way to get under the skin, or so I found, was to look at their art and stories and what they believed. The Bayeux Tapestry was invaluable in this sense.

Matt: I approached it in much the same way as Jules, but with more focus on the Norman side, as that was how we divided up the research and initial drafting. This included biographies of William, studies of the culture and warfare of the time, and some of the contemporary literature. The Song of Roland, for example, was a Frankish epic poem written at around the time William lived, and which seemed to have a great influence on the early Anglo-Normans. Things like this helped me get inside the heads of the Normans. While approaching them with a measure of scepticism, I found the first generation of accounts of William’s life and battles, from both Norman and Saxon chroniclers like Wace and Orderic Vitalis, to be especially useful. Ultimately I approached the research as a means of establishing the what, where and when, and left it to imagination to provide the why and how.

Did you find anything in your research that was particularly fascinating or that helped shaped the novel?

Jules: I could have disappeared down a research rabbit hole very easily. I didn’t know more than the broad strokes of the historical events and the whole process of research was fascinating, if a slightly intense course in 11th C British history. Where the historical narrative became especially interesting, or at least odd, was where Saxon and Norman historical figures crossed paths. Several times we thought we had created a fictional situation only to discover from some obscure source that our fictional event had really happened.

Matt: Same. Some of the most useful material I found related to the culture and lifestyle of the period. A paper on deer hunting in the literature of the late mediaeval period really sparked my imagination, and led to the opening scene of An Argument of Blood. A 19th century account of the assassination attempt against William when he was 19 or 20 really sparked my imagination as well, although it’s probably a bit suspect historically, so it took a lot more research to nail the details

How did you handle the process of co-writing? Did you each have specific scenes you wanted to tackle? Did you physically get together to write?

Jules: Matt and I are part of the same writing group so we were used to working together on projects. That said this was our first attempt at co-writing. We more or less decided to handle one side of the narrative each, working to a rough historical timeline, and from there we exchanged chapters. In some ways it was like having a built critique partner on the project and worked really well for us.

Matt: It certainly did. For my part, having Jules working on the same book kept me honest and on track, not to mention providing a whole lot of inspiration. Seeing the richness and sophistication of Jules’ chapters really spurred me to look at different angles and depths in my own. Where characters from the different ‘worlds’ met, we brainstormed dialogue and then wrote the scenes around it. Two heads really are better than one for that kind of thing.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Jules: There are several but I think if I had to pick one it would have to be the Battle of Stamford Bridge. While I was writing it from a non-warrior’s perspective, it was still a lot of fun to write. Plus it was an incredibly bloody battle – the Norwegian forces had assembled a fleet of 300 ships, including supply ships, and when the battle was over, only 24 ships were needed to carry the survivors home.

Matt: I actually really enjoyed writing the opening scene of An Argument of Blood where the youthful William takes part in a stag hunt. It felt as though it was the last time in his life that he was truly carefree, and I loved the energy of that. The other scene that stands out for me was the cavalry battle in front of Mont Saint Michel in A Black Matter for the King, where William and Harold fight together, and the aftermath of that. It was the blooming of their brief ‘bromance’ and really fun to write.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Jules: I think I’m in the rare position of being able to say I loved writing each and every scene I wrote. However, some of the interactions between Ælfgifa and her mother were a bit painful. I feel I’ve been a bit unfair to Gytha since we don’t really know what happened. There’s so little known about Harold’s youngest sister, Ælfgifa. She may have died in childhood or, as we have theorized in Oath and Crown, there may have been some other reason for keeping her out of the limelight. A difficult mother-daughter relationship was tricky to portray faithfully, but also in keeping with the mindset of the time. And the mindset of the time was that producing a child of inferior health or deformity cast aspersions on the mother. Some mothers were happy to be rid of such children. Imagining the resentment of the highborn Gytha when forced to keep and rear a child who essentially became a stain on her own reputation was both interesting and challenging.

Matt: As the name suggests, things got pretty dark for William at times. One thing that’s apparent from the history, whoever wrote it, was that he had an incredibly brutal streak. There was one incident that in the initial draft was left in the background, as it was seriously nasty. The more we looked at it, however, the more apparent it became that we needed to include it without shying away from the likely reality. As Jules says, life in the 11th century was hard and generally short. There was little room for sentimentality. I won’t say any more about this particular scene, but it’s not for the faint hearted.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Jules: When I was nine, although it was more as though I discovered I already was one and hadn’t realised before. It should be noted that my first book, written at the same age, was devoid of character, plot, setting, style and pretty much anything that would have made it a book.

Matt: For as long as I can remember. I always loved writing stories and knew from a pretty early age that I would always write – and preferably that writing would be my life. My first attempt to write a novel was at the age of nine or ten. I didn’t get more than a few pages in before running out of steam, but kept trying.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Jules: Talking about my writing. It took me nearly twenty years of writing in secret before I was ready to admit it. I’m better now but it’s still a work in progress. I wouldn’t say I did completely overcome it, I just found ways to work inspite of it. Deciding that not every word had to be struck gold or perfectly flawless and letting myself have fun with my writing really helped though.

Matt: Learning not to overthink myself into failure before I even start. Over the years I gathered masses of ideas, notes and research that never turned into much actual writing. Looking back, it was a form of procrastination, waiting for some mythical time when I would be ‘ready’. What saved me from that was NaNoWriMo, which forced me to dispense with the years of planning and research that I thought constituted the right way of writing a novel, and just launch myself in. I certainly haven’t overcome the overthinking, but I know that with a fair wind I can win temporary victories over it.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Jules: Far too many to name. Stephen King is a big influence but not as a paragon for success, for his way of making you want to turn the page and for creating engaging characters. Frank Herbert is another influencer. And many novelists of the 19th C.

Matt: Joseph Conrad and William Golding are the main ones – although they seem to have imparted more of their slow progress and agonising self-doubt than their prodigious writing talents. I love Stephen Baxter’s talent for making you root for a character and then progressively challenge your view of them.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Jules: If Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe counts, then it was Ivanhoe when I was about 11, I think. If not, Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell at around the same age. A lot of historical setting I first encountered through 19th C classics though.

Matt: It was probably Lieutenant Hornblower by CS Forester, when I was about nine or ten. It would certainly been something with battles in it, and more than likely sea battles. I remember being particularly intrigued by that book, though, as it was written from the point of view of a secondary character, Lieutenant Bush.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Jules: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, which is set in 1890s Essex near the salt marshes and deals with the emerging fascination for naturalism and fossil hunting, and just what kind of threat that posed to the English Church. Highly recommend it.

Matt: I think it was Peace, by Richard Bausch, which is a rather unusual novel set in the Italian campaign in 1944. It’s not a typical war story by any stretch of the imagination. It follows a small group of soldiers scouting ahead of a main advance, increasingly questioning the loyalties of their guide and the morality of their officers. It didn’t knock my socks off but has seeped into my psyche like a half-remembered unsettling dream.

What are three things people may not know about you?

Jules: I co-host a weekly literature podcast called Dissecting Dragons which looks at all aspects of speculative fiction. I’m a complete martial arts nerd, mostly karate. I like to collect dead or little used languages and odd words.

Matt: I wrote a biography of a little-known test pilot that was published last year, and a few days ago I got to fly in an aeroplane he’d piloted eighty years ago – a beautiful de Havilland Moth biplane. Is that two things? I run the website NavalAirHistory.com, which as the name suggests aims to cover all things about aircraft at sea. If you need one more – I’m trained in surveillance and interviewing suspects of crime.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Jules: All fiction allows you to ask questions and answer them through the process of writing. In the case of historical fiction, I love that you can metaphorically visit the past. Writing historical fiction is different from other types of fiction in that you have specific beats to hit because certain historical events happened. I love the fact that the process is a ‘why-dunnit’ instead of a ‘whodunnit’.

Matt: I’ve always had much more of an affinity with the past than the present. I like to be able to explore those times that I missed out on, for better or worse.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Jules: I don’t have a specific favourite. I’m endlessly curious about the past and will be drawn to a good book regardless of the setting. I seem to have read a lot set during the Black Death recently though.

Matt: The two eras that I’ve generally gravitated towards are the Napoleonic Wars and the first half of the 20th century, but I’ve recently developed a passion for mediaeval fiction. I wish I’d discovered Michael Jecks’ series’ before now. I read Fields of Glory, was blown away and in a moment of total fanboy overenthusiasm approached Michael and asked him to read our Oath and Crown books. He was incredibly kind, read both books and wrote a fantastic review of them. It really gave me a boost of confidence that we were doing it well.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Jules: In the tiny slice of time between working and writing? Read. Take long walks. Karate.

Matt: Fell walking. I’m trying to climb all 214 Wainwright peaks in the English Lake District. I’ve done about 30 so far.

Lastly, will you have more projects together in the future?

Jules: I’ve been hinting... ;)

Matt: Haha, yeah. Something will happen. I’m a slow writer and have several projects underway, but we’ll definitely come back to this.



A Black Matter for the King by Matthew Willis & J.A. Ironside

Publication Date: September 7, 2018
Penmore Press LLC
Paperback & eBook; 302 Pages

Series: Oath and Crown #2
Genre: Historical Fiction/War


TWO POWERFUL RIVALS -- ONE DECISIVE BATTLE

Now a political hostage in Falaise, Ælfgifa forms an unlikely friendship with William, Duke of Normandy. William has been swift to recognize her skills and exploit them to his advantage. However, unbeknownst to the duke, Gifa is acting as a spy for her brother, Harold Godwinson, a possible rival for the English throne currently in the failing grip of Edward the Confessor. Homesick and alienated by the Norman court, Gifa is torn between the Duke's trust and the duty she owes her family.

William has subdued his dissenting nobles, and a united Normandy is within his grasp. But the tides of power and influence are rarely still. As William’s stature grows, the circle of those he can trust shrinks. Beyond the English Channel, William has received news of Edward's astonishing decree regarding the succession. Ælfgifa returns to an England where an undercurrent of discontent bubbles beneath the surface. An England that may soon erupt in conflict as one king dies and another is chosen.

The ambitions of two powerful men will decide the fates of rival cultures in a single battle at Hastings that will change England, Europe, and the world in this compelling conclusion to the Oath & Crown series on the life and battles of William the Conqueror.

"There is little which is quite so exciting for me as discovering afresh, new talent in historical writing. In Willis and Ironside I feel I've found two writers who can carry me back to the past and can show me a time when, amid the brutality and irrationality of politics, there were still great characters, men of vision and daring, and women of intelligence and foresight. In fact these stories are a lot more than a short war series. They are a rich, extraordinarily well-researched, and meticulously told history of love, jealousy, honour, betrayal, deceit and death. It gives one version - convincingly told - of the curious oath sworn by Harold to William, but it is also the story of different nations, different cultures, and the clash when two warlords desire the same thing. In case I hadn't made it obvious, I loved these books. Sweeping history, battles galore, treachery, a cast of glorious, well-depicted characters - all in all, a fabulous story told brilliantly." - Author Michael Jecks

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters


About the Authors

J.A. Ironside (Jules) grew up in rural Dorset, surrounded by books - which pretty much set he up for life as a complete bibliophile. She loves speculative fiction of all stripes, especially fantasy and science fiction, although when it comes to the written word, she's not choosy and will read almost anything. Actually it would be fair to say she starts to go a bit peculiar if she doesn’t get through at least three books a week. She writes across various genres, both adult and YA fiction, and it’s a rare story if there isn’t a fantastical or speculative element in there somewhere.

Jules has had several short stories published in magazines and anthologies, as well as recorded for literature podcasts. Books 1 and 2 of her popular Unveiled series are currently available with the 3rd and 4th books due for release Autumn/ Winter 2017.

She also co-authored the sweeping epic historical Oath and Crown Duology with Matthew Willis, released June 2017 from Penmore Press.

Jules now lives on the edge of the Cotswold way with her boyfriend creature and a small black and white cat, both of whom share a god-complex.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Matthew Willis is an author of historical fiction, SF, fantasy and non-fiction. In June 2017 An Argument of Blood, the first of two historical novels about the Norman Conquest co-written with J.A. Ironside, was published. In 2015 his story Energy was shortlisted for the Bridport short story award.

Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service.

His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He now has four non fiction books published with a fifth, a biography of test pilot Duncan Menzies, due later in 2017. He currently lives in Southampton and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, September 5
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Friday, September 7
Feature at The Writing Desk

Monday, September 10
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, September 14
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, September 20
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Friday, September 21
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Saturday, September 22
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Sunday, September 23
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of A Black Matter for the King to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Black Matter for the King


2019 Release: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

If you loved The Lilac Girls from Martha Hall Kelly, and I know a lot of you did, then get ready for the prequel! If you're like me and haven't read it yet, then I guess we all better hurry up and read it! This cover is just gorgeous!



Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Ballantine Books

The runaway bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. This sweeping new novel, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline's mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.

It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia's Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller's daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya's letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend.

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian émigrés who live there, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

Excerpt from A Black Matter for the King by Matthew Willis & J.A. Ironside {With Giveaway!}


A Black Matter for the King by Matthew Willis & J.A. Ironside

Publication Date: September 7, 2018
Penmore Press LLC
Paperback & eBook; 302 Pages

Series: Oath and Crown #2
Genre: Historical Fiction/War


TWO POWERFUL RIVALS -- ONE DECISIVE BATTLE

Now a political hostage in Falaise, Ælfgifa forms an unlikely friendship with William, Duke of Normandy. William has been swift to recognize her skills and exploit them to his advantage. However, unbeknownst to the duke, Gifa is acting as a spy for her brother, Harold Godwinson, a possible rival for the English throne currently in the failing grip of Edward the Confessor. Homesick and alienated by the Norman court, Gifa is torn between the Duke's trust and the duty she owes her family.

William has subdued his dissenting nobles, and a united Normandy is within his grasp. But the tides of power and influence are rarely still. As William’s stature grows, the circle of those he can trust shrinks. Beyond the English Channel, William has received news of Edward's astonishing decree regarding the succession. Ælfgifa returns to an England where an undercurrent of discontent bubbles beneath the surface. An England that may soon erupt in conflict as one king dies and another is chosen.

The ambitions of two powerful men will decide the fates of rival cultures in a single battle at Hastings that will change England, Europe, and the world in this compelling conclusion to the Oath & Crown series on the life and battles of William the Conqueror.

"There is little which is quite so exciting for me as discovering afresh, new talent in historical writing. In Willis and Ironside I feel I've found two writers who can carry me back to the past and can show me a time when, amid the brutality and irrationality of politics, there were still great characters, men of vision and daring, and women of intelligence and foresight. In fact these stories are a lot more than a short war series. They are a rich, extraordinarily well-researched, and meticulously told history of love, jealousy, honour, betrayal, deceit and death. It gives one version - convincingly told - of the curious oath sworn by Harold to William, but it is also the story of different nations, different cultures, and the clash when two warlords desire the same thing. In case I hadn't made it obvious, I loved these books. Sweeping history, battles galore, treachery, a cast of glorious, well-depicted characters - all in all, a fabulous story told brilliantly." - Author Michael Jecks

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters


Excerpt

“...I have apprehended some trespassers on my territory, if that's what you mean,” Gui replied. “Saxon dogs. Brigands, raiding the coastline, no doubt, harrying my people.”
If anyone had been raiding and harrying it was Gui. William was rarely free from complaints that Gui had been encroaching on the land of his neighbors, robbing, pillaging, interfering with passing shipping, and occasionally outright piracy. He always denied it and there was little enough proof. Until now.
“One of those brigands is one of the most powerful men in England,” William spat, “a man you would do well not to make an enemy of.” He leaned forward until his face was uncomfortably close to that of Gui. “And a man you would do well not to make into an enemy of mine, either.”
Gui moved his head back a touch, swiveling his eyes uncomfortably. It would be well for him if he was beginning to realize how much he had bitten off. “Perhaps. But the fact remains they were trespassing...”
“They were shipwrecked in a storm, you had no business detaining them.” William slapped the table. “Your duty as a nobleman was to give them succor and help them on their way.”
“We couldn't understand them,” Gui said, looking anywhere but at William. “How was I supposed to know who they were? And anyway, if one of them is noble I'm entitled to a ransom... a reward for ensuring their safe return.”
William just narrowed his eyes, and Gui did not push the point. He was clearly lying about knowing who the men in his dungeons were. “Safe? I want to see the Jarl of Wessex. To ensure his good treatment.”
Now a flash of panic crossed Gui's eyes. “But of course, Lord. I will send for him to be brought to us. In the meantime, are you sure you wouldn't like some food or wine after your journey?”
Stalling for time so Harold can be cleaned up and made presentable, no doubt. “That won't be necessary. I'll see him where he is. Don't trouble yourself. Have a guard lead me there.”
Gui paused for a moment, probably considering whether to try to deflect William, but one look should have told him the Duke was not in any mood for games. Even more downcast than before, he called for a guard and instructed him to lead William. Not surprising, William thought, that Gui suddenly knew exactly which cell Harold was in, despite moments ago claiming not to know who any of the men were.
Blinking to accustom his eyes to the almost total lack of light, William waited while the guard opened the door and stepped through. It was a small cell, the kind a petty knight might be held in while awaiting ransom, not a great magnate and brother-in-law of a king. Saint Spirus' innards! Gui was a barbarian, and William began to wish he'd never pushed him into paying homage.
The only furniture was a wooden bench, and as William's eyes adjusted, he saw there was a man lying on it, dozing, perhaps. At any rate, he had not been disturbed by the clattering of the key and screeching of the door hinges. William cleared his throat, at which the other looked up, startled, and jumped to his feet. His bare feet. William realized with horror that Harold must still be wearing the clothes in which he had been shipwrecked. His hair hung loose about his face, flashing reddish wherever it caught the light of the torch outside.
William realized he barely spoke a word of Anglish. “You are Harold of Wessex, yes?” he said in Latin. “I am William. Duke of Normandy. I am here to release you.” He prepared himself for a tirade on the shortcomings of Norman hospitality.
Instead, the other smiled broadly. “My Lord of Normandy!” He bowed, stiffly. “Well met, if rather unexpected. I have long desired to make your acquaintance. My sister Ælfgifa spoke well of your lordship. May I ask what brings you to Ponthieu? Your man Gui will have a face like a smacked guppy if you mean to make off with his prize catch.”
William stared for a moment. Here was a man who had been shipwrecked then thrown into a cell, and they were exchanging greetings as if they were preparing for a May morning hunt. There may have even been a mocking note in Harold's voice, but whether it was directed at himself or William, or just the Saxon accent to his Latin, the Duke could not be sure. “Jarl Harold... forgive me, I'm not sure of the form of address.” There was no point in talking around the issue, even if Harold had so far proved a model of courtesy. Gui had put him at a disadvantage, and that had to be rectified. “Allow me to apologize for the behavior of my vassal. This is not how I would have wished us to meet. I'm relieved to find you whole and in good spirits. I trust you have not been excessively mistreated? And,” he growled, “I assure you, Gui will be lucky to have a face with all its features intact if he complains.”
Harold laughed, an open, hearty chuckle. “A man after my own heart too, it seems. Nay, Ponthieu did not treat me ill although the man might look into hiring a better cook. The food was atrocious.” They both laughed at that.
William could not help but be impressed at Harold's sangfroid. “No, it's a little more than the food he serves that offends me about Gui, if the truth be known. I hope we can provide better for you at Falaise.”
There did not even seem to be anything false or showy about Harold’s manner. Here was a man who could make the best of any situation he found himself in. “I imagine more does offend you about Gui – I believe I was meant to be a dainty tidbit and you have ruined his sport. The man will look like he's been chewing dandelion root for a month when you tell him you intend to offer me better lodgings.”
William smiled grimly. “Don't worry about Gui. It's not so long since he was enjoying my hospitality at Falaise himself, though his room was rather small and the door rarely open. He may find himself spending a summer in his old accommodation if he continues to act more like a pirate than a Count.”
Harold grinned, then his comradely smile faded, just a touch. “So Lord, I am here – where I should not be – and while that is more at God's convenience than mine, I will beg your pardon for my intrusion. Is there anything I might do for you, Duke William? You will excuse me if I ask after my sister – she was uncommonly long about delivering my missive. A full year now I think on it. Is she well? How does my young brother and nephew?”
William could not blame Harold for asking so many questions. While William was at a disadvantage in terms of social niceties, Harold was at a disadvantage in every other respect. Nevertheless, William could not help but be impressed that the Saxon was thinking of his family when his own circumstances were so poor. And mentioning Ælfgifa first? Any thought that Harold had sent Ælfgifa away because she lacked value evaporated. Harold clearly loved his sister. And perhaps knew her capabilities just as well as William did. If not better. “Your sister? She does the things she wants, when she wants, I find, though she has been of great service to me, for which I would thank you if I didn't think she would take offense.” They laughed again, politely. “She's well enough,” William continued. “You can ask her yourself, she came with me here.” The Saxon was about to speak again when William interrupted him. “Your offer of help is actually somewhat timely,” he said, quickly. There was an advantage to be had, and he was not about to lose it. “I'm currently engaged in a bit of fighting with my Western neighbors. Since I've heard only good things about your military skills, it would be helpful to me if you would come along with your men, perhaps. I hear the Bretons have a bit in common with the Wealas you've been in action with.”
“The Bretons?” Harold went on, looking thoughtful. “Yes their tongue is similar to that of the Wealas though I imagine they don't cling to the old ways so much. I don't speak it so well as my sister, of course, but I have the measure of them. Let me see... their current commander would be Duke Conan of Brittany, second of his name, would it not?” He looked William square in the eye. “You may count on me, Duke William. I have never shied away from honest battle at the side of one I would wish to name as a friend.” 

About the Authors

J.A. Ironside (Jules) grew up in rural Dorset, surrounded by books - which pretty much set he up for life as a complete bibliophile. She loves speculative fiction of all stripes, especially fantasy and science fiction, although when it comes to the written word, she's not choosy and will read almost anything. Actually it would be fair to say she starts to go a bit peculiar if she doesn’t get through at least three books a week. She writes across various genres, both adult and YA fiction, and it’s a rare story if there isn’t a fantastical or speculative element in there somewhere.

Jules has had several short stories published in magazines and anthologies, as well as recorded for literature podcasts. Books 1 and 2 of her popular Unveiled series are currently available with the 3rd and 4th books due for release Autumn/ Winter 2017.

She also co-authored the sweeping epic historical Oath and Crown Duology with Matthew Willis, released June 2017 from Penmore Press.

Jules now lives on the edge of the Cotswold way with her boyfriend creature and a small black and white cat, both of whom share a god-complex.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Matthew Willis is an author of historical fiction, SF, fantasy and non-fiction. In June 2017 An Argument of Blood, the first of two historical novels about the Norman Conquest co-written with J.A. Ironside, was published. In 2015 his story Energy was shortlisted for the Bridport short story award.

Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service.

His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He now has four non fiction books published with a fifth, a biography of test pilot Duncan Menzies, due later in 2017. He currently lives in Southampton and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, September 5
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Friday, September 7
Feature at The Writing Desk

Monday, September 10
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, September 14
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, September 20
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Friday, September 21
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Saturday, September 22
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Sunday, September 23
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of A Black Matter for the King to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Black Matter for the King


Review & Giveaway: The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews


The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Perfectly Proper Press
Paperback & eBook; 317 Pages

Series: Parish Orphans of Devon, Book 1
Genre: Historical/Romance


She Wanted Sanctuary…

Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill—though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome—is anything but a romantic hero.

He Needed Redemption…

Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household—and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one.

Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena’s past threatens, will Justin’s burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Praise for The Matrimonial Advertisement

"Matthews' (The Pug Who Bit Napoleon, 2018, etc.) series opener is a guilty pleasure, brimming with beautiful people, damsels in distress, and an abundance of testosterone...It's a well-written and engaging story that's more than just a romance. The author chooses to draw on dark moments in British history to create Justin's and Helena's complicated pasts...It's an unexpected narrative addition that works well, as Matthews seamlessly blends some grim history with light and frothy fiction. An enjoyable love story that dares to dip a toe into bleak social and political history." -Kirkus Reviews

"I don't have enough words to say how unbelievably incredible this book is...I am a huge fan of Ms Matthews, her writing is always flawless and articulate, but this simply is in a league of its own... 'The Matrimonial Advertisement' is a lot darker that what we have come to expect from Ms Matthews, but for me this is Gothic Victorian story-telling at its best. This is how this genre is supposed to be written!...Ms Matthews has out done herself with this, by far one of the best books I have read--ever!...This is a hauntingly beautiful, gripping and heart-wrenching story. It is simply spellbinding!" -Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

"This is an irresistible romance with the added frisson of gothic fear. At a time in Victorian Britain when a woman belonged entirely to her father, guardian or husband, can Helena ever be free to love and live as she wishes? Mimi's writing style is engaging, and we are plunged immediately into Helena's predicament. Secrets are gradually revealed, adding depth to our understanding of the main characters. This is Miss Matthews' best book so far and it is only the first in a new series!" -Lizanne Lloyd, Lost in a Good Book

"This delightful Victorian love story took me away to another time and another place for a few blissful hours. Mimi Matthews is a wonderful storyteller. She creates very likeable, memorable, layered characters that quickly feel like friends. Her style is naturally elegant and warmly flowing, full of historical detail and charm...this is the second of her fictional works that I've devoured and I'm looking forward to more." -Jayne Fresina, bestselling author of Once Upon a Kiss

"Since I first read the sample chapters, I've been eager to read this book. Mimi Matthews does not disappoint. She lures the reader in for an emotional journey. Full of romance and heart, The Matrimonial Advertisement takes a marriage of convenience, a pinch of Beauty and the Beast, and some truly engrossing social history and brings to life a satisfying romantic tale. I look forward to more from this talented author!" -Lena Goldfinch, bestselling author of The Unexpected Bride

"The Matrimonial Advertisement is a Victorian romance in all its glory...Mimi Matthews definitely knows how to present historical facts effectively and without sounding bookish...a delightful treat for Jane Austen and historical fiction fans." -Readers' Favorite, 5-Stars

"If I could only have one book for the rest of my life, it would be this one. This is my first time reading anything by Mimi Matthews, but rest assured, I now need anything that this incredible author has ever written. The characters were outstanding, developed with complexity and a humanity all their own. The setting and scenery were described with such perfection that I was able to see the circumstances through the characters' eyes with ease. Both Helena and Justin are forever etched onto this reader's heart, and I greatly look forward to expanding my Mimi Matthews library." -Stacie, NetGalley

My Review

Well, this year is turning out to be a year of stellar reads for me and The Matrimonial Advertisement was another stand out hit! I read it in one-sitting, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, flying through the pages. I was immediately enamored with Justin. Talk about a swoon-worthy man! Le sigh....

I am a tough critic when it comes to the romance aspect in books but I absolutely loved Helena and Justin. The reader can feel their connection and you want so much for them to be together. Two people with painful pasts, and secrets, both in need of what the other can offer. Yet finding so much more.

I absolutely loved every minute I spent with The Matrimonial Advertisement. Mimi Matthews is an exceptional story-teller. There was a Beauty & the Beast feel to the book, and readers of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, and fans of Victorian novels will definitely love it.

Mimi Matthews has a new fan-girl! I can't wait to pick up her other books and devour them!

5 Stars!

About the Author

Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Lost Letter) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews' website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, September 4
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 5
Interview at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, September 6
Review at Based on a True Story

Friday, September 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, September 8
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, September 10
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste

Tuesday, September 11
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, September 12
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, September 14
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, September 15
Review at Naomi Finley's Blog

Sunday, September 16
Interview at T's Stuff

Monday, September 17
Character Interview at Love Books Group

Tuesday, September 18
Feature at A Holland Reads
Review at Library of Clean Reads

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of The Matrimonial Advertisement! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Matrimonial Advertisement


2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: September Reviews


Happy September, dear readers! Is it Fall yet? Can it be because I am dying here in Atlanta! At least we have good books to keep us nice and cool :) I can't wait to see what you're reading this month.

Welcome to the September link page for the 2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. This is the page where you will enter the links to your reviews during the month of September.

Links to Previous Months...

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August

Reading Challenge Instructions...

  • Add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review). A direct link to your Goodreads review is also acceptable
  • Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, etc.)
  • Don't forget to look some of the other links that are present. You never know when you will discover new blogs or books!

There's still time to sign up for the 2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge! Sign Up Here.



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Book Review: Nothing is Forgotten by Peter Golden


Nothing is Forgotten by Peter Golden

Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 352 pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Jewish


From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes a novel about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France as he finds love and discovers the long-hidden secrets about his heritage.

In 1950s New Jersey, Michael Daniels launches a radio show in the storage room of his Russian-Jewish grandmother’s candy store. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.

There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.

But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered in the candy store. Why anyone would commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman is anyone’s guess. But she had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out to Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.

Featuring Peter Golden’s signature “vivid characters and strong storytelling” (The Washington Post), Nothing Is Forgotten changes our understanding of the impact of World War II on its survivors and their descendants, and will appeal to fans of novels by Anita Diamant and Kristin Hannah.

Praise

"Golden draws a vivid portrait of the Cold War era, but it is the complex and unexpected connection between Holocaust survivors and their descendants that turns this book into a page-turner.” (RT Book Reviews)

"Nothing Is Forgotten is a Russian nesting doll of plot twists across continents and decades. This cleverly constructed Cold War tale, based on gripping true events, keeps readers eagerly anticipating what lies at its heart." -Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children

"Both heartbreaking and mesmerizing, Nothing Is Forgotten is the sort of book you won't soon forget. Peter Golden starkly juxtaposes the joys of coming of age and first love with the startling revelation of a dark family legacy. Cold War Europe, lingering Nazi secrets, and the tragic history faced by millions of families not only bring this tale to life, but will keep you turning the pages." -Lisa Wingate, New York Times Bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

"Nothing is Forgotten is historical fiction at its finest. A sweeping tale full of humor and heartbreak, Peter Golden takes us on a journey from 1960s America across Europe to explore how inherited histories can follow us through generations and redefine families." -Karin Tanabe, author of The Diplomat's Daughter

My Review

5 Stars!

I only meant to read a page or two as I waited for my boys at the bus stop to get home from school, but Peter Golden's writing sucked me in and I was officially toast! Nothing is Forgotten is one powerfully moving novel, brilliant in execution, and an emotional roller coaster. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll root for the heroes and you'll fly through the pages to see if evil will finally get their due. I absolutely loved every page! I had so many passages highlighted on my eBook because there were so many good lines.

Golden is a master storyteller, equally deft with action scenes as he is with the romance aspect of the book. I fell in love with Yuli, she reminded me of a female Jason Bourne. And like in the Jason Bourne movies we are taken on an International adventure to Amsterdam, Russia, France, Germany, and back to the US. And we get to meet Picasso!

There was never a dull moment and it truly has everything I look for in a novel - danger, intrigue, mystery, romance, a smart & sassy leading woman, and a believable plot and Nothing is Forgotten had them all in spades. I am so excited to have found Peter Golden and I already ordered his other books. He's that good, folks! I highly recommend you checking out this book - you can thank me later :)

About the Author

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, novelist, biographer, and historian. He lives outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son. He is the acclaimed author of the novels Comeback Love, Wherever There Is Light, and Nothing Is Forgotten.

For more information, please visit Peter Golden's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 20
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Tuesday, August 21
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Thursday, August 23
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, August 27
Review at Creating Herstory

Wednesday, August 29
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Friday, August 31
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, September 3
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, September 6
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Sunday, September 9
Feature at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, September 10
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, September 11
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 copies of Nothing is Forgotten! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Nothing is Forgotten


Interview with Janet Benton & Lilli de Jong Giveaway



Hello Janet and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Lilli de Jong!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your novel Lilli de Jong?

I grew up in Connecticut, live in Pennsylvania, and lived lots of places in between. For my work, I mentor writers (helping them start and finish books) and teach writing workshops through my business, The Word Studio (www.thewordstudio.us). I also write fiction and essays and give lots of talks about my novel and writing. I was a religious studies major in college, and I have an MFA in English/fiction writing. I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt . . .

What inspired you to write Lilli de Jong?

When I became pregnant and had a baby, I understood both how profound these realities are and how under-appreciated and unsupported the hard work of mothers often is. Then I came upon an article about unwed mothers in the European past, who in most cases were forced by prejudice to give up their babies and sometimes became wet nurses to earn a living despite their “stain.” I began reading about these women in the American past, and the voice of an unwed mother began coming into my head. She became Lilli de Jong, a young Quaker teacher, who becomes pregnant out of wedlock, gives birth at a charity for unwed mothers based on a real one, and becomes wet nurse to a wealthy family’s newborn. She’s trying to save up money to reclaim her baby girl. The novel is set in Philadelphia in 1883.

What type of research did you do for Lilli de Jong?

Oh, so much research! Years’ worth. To get the voice and sensibility right, I read works by and about American Quakers of the time, particularly ones in the Philadelphia region. I visited Quaker sites and did writing weekends at a Quaker center called Pendle Hill, which has a library of old books and a publishing company that has published and reprinted many important works. I read publications of the late 1800s, such as Harpers and the then-brand-new Ladies’ Home Journal, as well as books from the last third of the nineteenth century on social service, the poor, medical care, housekeeping, and on and on. And in the background were the Victorian novels I love, with their careful attention to language and their elegant tones. I also read newer works about Quakers of the past, including novels. I also researched and sought advice from historians about the ways Quakers in the Philadelphia region actually spoke.

Lilli is from Germantown, a neighborhood of Philadelphia. It was founded primarily by Dutch Quakers in the 1600s. The neighborhood holds so many historic sites, including a Quaker home that was a stop on the Underground Railroad, Johnson House; two Friends’ meetinghouses; and a home in which George and Martha Washington’s household lived, seeking to escape yellow fever epidemics in the late eighteenth century. To walk Germantown’s streets is to feel history rise through the cobblestones and emanate from the trees and from the buildings’ bricks and stones.

I also went to archives, including those of the charity for unwed mothers that Lilli is admitted to when she’s pregnant and homeless. The highlight of my research was reading the board minutes and annual reports of the State Hospital for Women and Infants. When it opened in 1874, it was the only charity for girls and women pregnant out of wedlock in Philadelphia. The board-meeting notes describe the great challenges of keeping the place running, including finding donors who would support this so-called shameful cause and responding to cruel articles in the press. The annual reports described the desperate condition the pregnant women were in when they applied for admission.

The opening third of the novel takes place in this charity, and the novel opens with a quote from its 1880 annual report: “Every other door . . . is closed to her who, unmarried, is about to become a mother. Deliberate, calculating villainy, fraud, outrage, burglary, or even murder with malice aforethought, seems to excite more sympathy, more helpful pity, more efforts for the reclamation of the transgressors than are shown towards those who, if not the victims of others, are at the worse but illustrations of human infirmity.”

Did you find anything in your research that was particularly fascinating or that helped shaped the novel?

Yes. I hadn’t understood that infants could not survive without a mother’s milk until pasteurization and refrigeration made cow’s milk a relatively safe substitute. This took place anywhere from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, depending on where one lived (and in some places in the world, this danger is still real). So this meant that most infants separated by prejudice from their mothers did not survive—a tragic aspect of history that most of us don’t know. I wrote this book partly to help people think about what women and babies of the past went through—and some still go through—because of prejudice, even if they were victims of rape, incest, ignorance, or abandonment.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The novel is in the form of Lilli’s diary. I think the most moving diary entry for me to write was the one right after her daughter, Charlotte, is born. I was able to express some of the amazement and love I felt when my own daughter was brand new.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The one in which Lilli’s mother dies. I put that off till I was nearly done with everything else.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I started loving books very young, and I always wanted to give back—to create for others the kinds of wonderful experiences I had while reading books. I started storytelling before I could write, and I started keeping a diary when I was nine or ten. The realization that I am a writer—that is, someone who needs to write and who doesn’t feel good without writing—came on gradually. Writing has been very important to me for most of my life.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I think the first historical novel I read was Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. It’s a big, fat novel that hit me like a truck—it took over my life for weeks when I was eleven or twelve and taught me so much about the power a novel can have. Other historical novels that had a strong impact on me early in life were Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinback. I was also changed by The Diary of Anne Frank—not a novel, but by the time I read it, a historical document. These were stories of huge social forces affecting small numbers of people—to me, the best way to help people feel their impact.

What is the last historical novel you read?

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning. I thought it was very well done. I especially liked the narrator’s voice.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I used to sing jazz in restaurants and a hotel. Then my husband and I had a five-piece folk-rock band for eight years, playing mostly our originals. And I love to improvise when I cook.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

To me, there’s no better way to create compassion than to tell a powerful story of someone striving against injustice. I think such stories can improve the human race.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I enjoy reading, taking long walks, and spending time with my loved ones. I also love dancing, but I hardly ever get to do it!

Lastly, what are you working on next?

A novel set in New England that tells of a woman who’s up to her ears in motherhood after twenty years of it, has sacrificed too much, and is trying to reclaim some space and time for herself. I know a lot more, but it’s still in formation, so that’s good for now!

Wow, that novel sounds eerily like my life! Hahaha! Thank you so much for spending time with us today! Congratulations on the success of Lilli de Jong!


Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Paperback Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Anchor Books
Paperback; 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Philadelphia, 1883. Twenty-three-year-old Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on a completely unexpected path. Unwed mothers in 1883 face staggering prejudice, yet Lilli refuses to give up her baby girl. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep the two of them alive.

Lilli confides this story to her diary as it unfolds, taking readers from a charity for unwed mothers to a wealthy family’s home and onto the streets of a burgeoning American city. Her story offers a rare and harrowing view into a time when a mother’s milk is crucial for infant survival. Written with startling intimacy and compassion, this accomplished novel is both a rich historical depiction and a testament to the saving force of a woman’s love.

Awards

NPR Best Books of 2017
Library Journal Best Historical Fiction 2017
Bustle The 17 Best Debut Novels by Woman in 2017
An Amazon Best Book of May 2017
Semifinalist in historical fiction, Goodreads Choice Awards, 2017
Finalist, David J. Langum Prize in Historical Fiction, 2017

Praise for Lilli de Jong

“A heartrending debut…Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.”—Publishers Weekly

“Powerful, authentic… A heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“I loved this novel. It’s deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous.”—Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute…A gripping read.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Piece of the World

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow

“A captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.”—The Millions

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr… Stunning!”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“A stunning ode to motherhood.” —Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“A new feminist classic…Benton’s writing is shrewd and beautiful.”—Philly Voice

“Eloquent and powerful.”—HuffPost Books

“This is both a super lush historical novel and an amazing feminist manifesto…Buy it for everyone.”—Book Riot

“You would be hard-pressed to find a more intimate—even revolutionary—depiction of the emotional and sensory experiences of motherhood.”—UMass Magazine

“A brilliantly quiet novel with a spine of steel.”—Read It Forward

“[What a] monumental accomplishment the novel achieves. . . . Benton holds a mirror up to the past and in doing so, illustrates how far we have come as well as how far we have yet to go.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

JANET BENTON’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has cowritten and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For decades she has taught writing at universities and privately and has helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit www.janetbentonauthor.com for more information. You can also find Janet on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 13
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, August 15
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Friday, August 17
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Monday, August 20
Feature at Clarissa Reads it All

Thursday, August 23
Feature at Beth's Book Nook Blog
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 28
Review at Dressed to Read

Friday, August 31
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Monday, September 3
Review at Oh, October

Friday, September 7
Review at The Book Mind

Tuesday, September 11
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, September 12
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, September 13
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of Lilli de Jong to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Lilli de Jong Paperback


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