Archive for the ‘If You Like’ Category

If You Like….

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

A large chunk of The English Wife takes place in the unique environment of the Hudson Valley, just about an hour or so out of Manhattan. Having spent a significant portion of my childhood there, I’d always been fascinated by how different upstate New York feels from New England, shaped as it was by the Dutch settlers who carved out vast estates in the seventeenth century and left a cultural mark that persisted even after the power of the patroons themselves had dwindled.

Unlike the other “if you likes”, where I’ve been trying to stick with the late 19th century, this If You Like looks at books set in the Hudson Valley more generally, from the eighteenth century to the present day.

So, if you like books set in the Hudson Valley, you’ll probably like…

— Donna Thorland’s American Revolution-set novel, The Dutch Girl, in which the daughter of a tenant farmer takes on both the Brits and the patroons– but finds none of it is quite so simple as she’d expected;

— and while we’re talking about patroons, Anya Seton’s Dragonwyck, in which a simple farmer’s daughter goes to live with her patroon cousin at his estate, Dragonwyck. But is it all luxury and romance, or are there dark secrets beneath the rich facade?

— moving away from the patroons, Sara Donati’s Into the Wilderness, which will make you think a great deal of The Last of the Mohicans. How much do I love the book? Let me count the ways– in hours of lost sleep. If you’re an Outlander fan, keep an eye out for a Claire Fraser mention;

— Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, which opens with the heroine at Grand Central on the way to a house party at a Hudson Valley estate, Bellomont (possibly based on Ruth Livingston Mills’s country house at Staatsburg);

— Isabelle Holland’s Tower Abbey, an Old School modern gothic (and by modern, think late 70s, with that whole 70s gothic vibe) set in a mansion on the Hudson (see also Holland’s Flight of Archangel, a murder mystery also partly set around a decaying mansion on the Hudson);

— Carol Goodman’s Hudson Valley-set mysteries, including The Widow’s House, which has light supernatural elements a la Barbara Michaels, and River Road, which doesn’t;

— Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Adirondack-based Claire Fergusson mysteries, about an Episcopalian priest and the local police chief, who find themselves thrown together in Book I, In the Bleak Midwinter, when a baby is left on the doorstep of the church. They then go on to solve many excellently crafted mysteries together.

What are your favorite novels set in the Hudson Valley?



If You Like….

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

No Gilded Age novel would be complete without a stop in Newport. So, naturally, my characters (and I) had to spend a bit of time there.

But when I sat down to make this “If You Like” list, I was surprised by how hard it was to think of books set in Newport in the 1880s and 90s. There are certainly plenty of books with Newport interludes– Wharton’s The Age Of Innocence, for one– but it was harder to think of books that took place primarily in Newport. Do you have suggestions? Please feel free to add your own favorites.

In the meantime, if you like books set in Gilded Age Newport, you’ll probably like….

— John Jakes’s The Gods of Newport, in which the author of North and South takes on the rarefied air of 1890s Newport in the story of a robber baron determined to win acceptance for himself and his daughter;

— Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress, which, like Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers, takes place largely in England, but opens in Newport;

— on the mystery front, Alyssa Maxwell’s Gilded Newport mystery series, beginning with Murder at the Breakers, in which a Vanderbilt cousin turns sleuth;

— and along the same lines, Shelley Freydont’s A Gilded Grave and A Golden Cage, featuring an heiress turned sleuth in 1890s Newport.

Where I’m really drawing a blank is romance novels. I’d vaguely remembered Jill Barnett’s Carried Away starting in Newport, but it turned out not to be. There must be at least one 80s-era romance set in Newport, no?

What are your favorite late nineteenth century Newport-set novels?



If You Like….

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Maybe it’s all those postcards of the Eiffel Tower, maybe it comes of watching Gigi at a susceptible age, but there’s just something about Belle Epoque Paris.

Even though The English Wife is set largely in New York and London, I couldn’t resist sending my characters on a little excursion to Paris, where they got to picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries and visit the first ever exhibition of the brand new Photo-Club de Paris.

Do you also like to vacation in late 19th century Paris?

If you like books set in Belle Epoque Paris, you’ll probably like…

— Guy de Maupassant’s Bel-Ami, a dark story of social ambition about a personable man who sleeps and marries his way up in fin de siecle Paris (now also a movie with Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, and that guy from Twilight);

— Proust’s Swann’s Way— because, really, how can we talk about the Belle Epoque without including Proust?

— Edith Wharton’s Madame De Treymes, an American eye’s view of the gratin (or upper class) of Belle Epoque Paris, told through the lens of the unhappy marriage of a New Yorker to a French aristocrat;

— M.J. Rose’s The Witch of Painted Sorrows, in which a young woman flees an unhappy marriage in New York to seek refuge with her grandmother, once a notable Paris courtesan, and to take classes with Moreau at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. But as she explores her artistic talent and family history, she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into supernatural forces beyond her control;

— Alyson Richman’s The Velvet Hours. Remember that Paris apartment that was closed up during World War II and rediscovered, untouched, in 2016? The Velvet Hours goes back and forth between the life of the original owner of the apartment, Marthe de Florian, a Belle Epoque courtesan, and her granddaughter’s experiences on the eve of World War II;

— Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment, also inspired by that same apartment, but going back and forth between Marthe de Florian in the late 19th century and a Sotheby’s employee in the present day;

— Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Painted Girls, inspired by Degas’s painting, “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen”, about two sisters struggling to survive in 1880s Paris;

— Carole Nelson Douglas’s Chapel Noir. This is several books along in Carole Nelson Douglas’s amazing Irene Adler series (which began with Good Night Mr. Holmes, later reissued as The Adventuress), but you can certainly read it by itself. Irene Adler and her companion, Nell, now living in the suburbs of Paris, are called in to examine a grisly murder at a brothel patronized by the Prince of Wales, leading them into an investigation that takes them to the darkest corners of Paris;

— Madeleine Brent’s A Heritage of Shadows, which takes place in both Paris and London in the 1890s, involving Paris’s seedy underworld and one young woman caught up in it (very much a 1980s period piece!);

— Claude Izner’s Victor Legris mysteries in which a young bookseller finds himself drawn into solving murders in 1890s Paris;

— and, of course, that gem among made-for-TV Barbara Cartland movies, The Flame is Love, which manages to combine every possible cliche about fin de siecle Paris, including a spot of diabolism.

I have a feeling I’ve missed several very obvious books– and many that aren’t obvious at all. Help! What are your favorite novels set in Belle Epoque Paris?



If You Like….

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

As I was gathering up my pictures of the various settings in The English Wife to share with you, it occurred to me that it might be fun to do a bunch of If You Likes to cover the various places involved in the book.

So, since this is my Gilded Age book, it made sense to start out with Gilded Age New York. In subsequent weeks, I’ll move on to late Victorian London, Belle Epoque Paris, and the Hudson Valley.

But, for the moment, let’s pop back in time to Manhattan circa 1870-1910….

If you like books set in Gilded Age New York, you’ll probably like…

— Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. How could we not start with Wharton, the archetypal author of New York’s Gilded Age? Wharton takes us through Lily Bart’s desperate struggle to remain a member of the social set to which she was born, highlighting all the idiosyncrasies and hypocrisies of New York’s claustrophobic upper class.

— Jack Finney’s Time and Again. Who doesn’t dream of being able to step back in time? Maybe that’s why this book is such a perennial favorite: an exercise into what might happen if you could actually hop over into the New York of 1882, examining the past with modern (well, sort of modern– 1970) eyes.

— Sara Donati’s The Gilded Hour, the story of two female doctors, cousins, moving between the orphanages and ballrooms of 1880s New York.

— Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, an iconic thriller set in 1896 New York (the same time period as The English Wife), as Dr. Lazslo Kreizler, the “alienist”, attempts to find a serial killer.

— Louis Auchincloss’s East Side Story. This one is cheating a bit, because it begins before and stretches well past the Gilded Age– but it’s a deft and insightful look at New York’s elite and how they became what they are.

— Beverly Swerling’s City of Promise, which takes an intimate look at New York’s post-Civil War boom through the eyes of an entrepreneur who makes his fortune through pioneering apartment living and a young woman with a dodgy past.

— on the romance side of things, Joanna Shupe’s Knickerbocker Club books, Magnate, Tycoon, and Baron, all set in the bustle and boom of New York in the 1880s.

— on the mystery side, there’s Stefanie Pintoff’s Simon Ziele series, starting with In the Shadow of Gotham, about a detective solving crimes in 1905 New York.

— and then there’s The Forgotten Room, the novel I co-wrote with Karen White and Beatriz Williams. The book takes place in three time periods, starting off in the 1890s, as a young woman goes to work as a maid in an Upper East Side mansion. But what is her real relationship to the house and its inhabitants?

While I was writing this post, I stumbled upon an an earlier If You Like post I had written on the same topic. There are some overlaps, but not as many as you would expect! So you can check here for more recommendations….

Which are your favorite Gilded Age New York novels?

(I’ll be sharing some Gilded Age New York non-fiction books in the fall.)



A Guest “If You Like” from Tracy Grant

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

A big welcome to Tracy Grant, who is visiting here today to share her favorite books about poets!

Many of you may already know Tracy as the author of the Charles & Melanie Fraser books or as the author of the Malcolm & Susanne Rannoch books, beautifully written mysteries set just at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, involving intrigue, spies, and lots of historical cameos from fascinating characters. Her latest, Gilded Deceit, takes place in Italy in 1818. Because who doesn’t want to visit Lake Como?

And now over to Tracy!

Tracy author pic My new book, Gilded Deceit, finds former spies Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch and their family fleeing Britain because the truth of Suzanne’s past as a French spy has come to light. The Rannochs take refuge in a villa on Lake Como that Malcolm inherited from his mother. It is the summer of 1818. In researching Gilded Deceit, I realized Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley would all have been in Italy at the same time. The Rannochs have crossed paths with many real historical characters, but mostly political and military figures. The chance to include these three literary giants was too good to pass up. Besides, Byron’s former mistress, Lady Caroline Lamb, has already featured in the series as a childhood friend of ongoing character Cordelia Davenport.

I was both excited and intimidated to work these three towering figures of the romantic era into a story with my fictional characters. But when i actually sat down to write scenes with them, I found their voices (at least my version of their voices) came quite easily.

Tracy book coverIf you like novels featuring poets, real or fictional, here are some others that might appeal to you…

Possession by A.S. Byatt, a brilliant novel that moves between the story of two fictional 19th century poets and of two modern-day academics unearthing their history. Byatt builds an utterly fascinating world, including the letters and poems of her fictional characters.

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig, which turns the “insufferably bad” poet Augustus Whittlesby into amazingly appealing hero.

When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris, another enthralling adventure for Sebastian St. Cyr, in which he encounters a three-year-old Alfred Tennyson in the course of a murder investigation that cuts close to home for the future poet and could be said to inspire some of his future works.

Passion by Jude Morgan, a fascinating look at Byron, Shelley, and Keats through the eyes of four women in their lives – Mary Godwin Shelley (a major literary figure in her own right), Lady Caroline Lamb (also a novelist), Fanny Brawne (Keats’ lover), and Augusta Leigh (Byron’s half-sister).

Thanks so much, Tracy! I see many favorites in there…. And, of course, the Lake Como setting makes me think of the fourth (and, alas, last) Julian Kestrel mystery, The Devil in Music, although that involves singing rather than poets. But singing is a kind of poetry, right?

For more poetic entertainment, I would add Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy— because who could possibly forget Fawnhope?

Which are your favorite poet-centric novels?

Tracy has very generously offered to give away one e-copy of Gilded Deceit, so one person will be chosen at random from among the Comments section to receive the latest Malcolm and Susanne adventure. The winner will be announced on Thursday.



If You Like….

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Today we have a special treat– a guest If You Like from Sheila!

As Sheila points out below, when we dip our toes into the past, we tend to focus on the propertied and privileged– because, let’s face it, they had better clothes. (Although not necessarily better teeth. But I digress.) But what about the maid who pulled those laces for her mistress? Or the tweeny carting up all that coal? We often see them as shadowy figures at the back of the picture, but very seldom brought to the fore.

So now over to Sheila, for a list of books that bring the “downstairs” upstairs. If you like books that focus on the servants’ side of the story, you’ll probably like….

Lovers of historical novels often play the game of “Gee, I would love to live then. Beautiful clothes, horses, mansions, unspoiled countryside. Yet I know I would certainly come back as the tweeny, and would soon miss mod cons like plumbing, antibiotics and anesthesia.

— Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly was a big bestseller several years ago, desevredly so. Mary is Dr Jekyll’s housemaid, and she endeavors to help him in his struggles with Mr. Hyde.

— Lauren and her writer buds have given us serving girl Olive Van Alan in The Forgotten Room, who tries to find why her father killed himself. A wonderful book, as most of you know.

Longbourn, by Jo Baker, is thank goodness, not a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Rather, it is the tale of what is happening in the lives of the Bennett servants, coincidentally at the same time as P&P.

— Lastly I would mention a traditional Regency series, A House for the Season, by Marion Chesney. If you like MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth, you like her, as they are one and the same, complete with acerbic wit. The series is typical: young girl comes to London, meets rich guy, moany obstacles, etc. The ongoing story of the servants is what makes it really interesting. The butler Rainbird is a true hero. This is the first time I read about the doings of the many people who make possible the doings of our beloved characters.

Thanks, Sheila! You’ve got me thinking…. It’s harder than I would have imagined to think of books that focus on the downstairs rather than the upstairs. Governesses, yes. There are governesses in fiction by the thousands, from Jane Eyre on up. But housemaids? Not so much.

Leading the list is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, a butler’s reminiscences of his days serving in a grand household. Focusing on the butler and the housekeeper, this is a look at the upper end of the downstairs world, the royalty of the servants’ hall.

There’s Eva Ibbotson’s A Countess Below Stairs, in which a Russian noblewoman winds up hiring herself out as domestic staff in England after the Revolution. (Although, of course, that’s part of the “noblewoman in rags whose true quality will be recognized by the end of the book” tradition, which is distinct from a true “downstairs” story.)

Perhaps more to the point, there’s Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance, which paints a very vivid picture of the life of an underhousemaid in an Edwardian great house.

Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton, in which the narrator is a former housemaid, also jumps to mind.

For non-fiction, there’s Lucy Lethbridge’s Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times.

But other than that, I’m coming up blank! Can you think of any good novels set more downstairs than upstairs?



If You Like….

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Since I’ve been deep in the writing cave, the wonderful Rachel very kindly offered to take up the slack by writing a brand new “If You Like” post– and may I just say how delighted I was when she offered and how even more delighted I was once I read it?

Here, without further preamble, is our latest guest If You Like: If You Like Lady Detectives in Historical Fiction. And now over to Rachel!

I don’t know about you all, but once in a while I get a taste for a certain genre/ trope/ character personality and go crazy with it. I’ll look up recommendations on Goodreads, talk to friends, and make a list of things to check out from the library. Lately, because of Laurie R King’s latest in her “Beekeeper’s Apprentice” series [which I know has been a big hit on this website before!] I’ve been on a “Lady Detectives in Historical Fiction,” kick. The latest installment is intriguingly titled “The Murder of Mary Russell” and actually alternates between the Mary/ Sherlock storyline and Mrs. Hudson’s early life, as the famous housekeeper has her own intrepid adventures. King’s series is intelligent, amusing, and fast paced while packed with incredible dialogue and character/ plot development. The lady does her research. In the past few weeks I have also delved into several new (to me) series that promised similar devices to King. So if you like Mary Russell/ Lady Detectives in Historical Fiction, you may also like…

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Rachel McMillan- The “first” in a series (there is a prequel available also) about two friends, Merinda and Jem, who eschew the patriarchal norms of 1910 Toronto and form a detective agency. Merinda is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes stories and uses them as research to help in their own cases. Fun, fast paced, and full of colorful personalities. (And if you like the Canadian show “Murdoch Mysteries”, you will surely like this series!)

Sister Beneath the Sheet by Gillian Linscott- First in a series about Nell Bray, a suffragette working under Emmeline Pankhurst, who directs Nell to look into a suspicious death. Slightly darker in plot and detail, this story still contains a great deal of history and atmosphere of the early suffragette revolution. Male-female relations in the book also raise though provoking questions in the midst of the current political debate over gender in America.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn- First in a series about protagonist Lady Julia Grey, a woman who becomes involved in detecting when her husband unexpectedly expires at a dinner party. (Think “Gosford Park” meets the “Lady Emily” series by Tasha Alexander.) She is joined in her investigation by her husband’s acquaintance Nicholas Brisbane, who does get get along with Lady Julia at the outset and causes much consternation for her and amusement for the reader. Steamier and, in parts, darker, this book contains elements of several adored genres.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear- I’m almost done with this one, and it is blowing my mind. My favorite so far for no particular reason other than I am connecting with the eponymous Maisie. Incredibly bright, she is born into a lower class but rises up with the help of her employer-turned-patron. I definitely see elements of Mary Russell in Maisie Dobbs, except that Maisie has struck out on her own to open a detective agency and does not work with a partner after leaving the tutelage of Dr. Maurice Blanche. Maisie is able to easy sympathize with her clientele, drawing on shared WWI experiences (Maisie served as a nurse).

On tap for me (because I over-indulged at the library) are: Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart, The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary, Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters, and This Dame for Hire by Sandra Scoppettone.

Thank you so much, Rachel! I’m busy scribbling notes to myself since while half of these are old favorites (am I the only one reading this who feels a strong need to re-read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice right about now?), the other half are new to me. Which is very exciting.

I’ve been racking my brains to think who else I would add to this list…. There’s Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby mysteries (Scottish, 19th century), Jennifer Kincheloe’s The Secret Life of Anna Blanc (American, turn of the century), Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries (Australian, 1920s), and, of course, Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness (English, 1930s).

Who are your favorite historical lady detectives?



If You Like….

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

So many thanks to Tracy Grant, who has broken the long If You Like drought here on the website! Tracy is the author of the Charles and Melanie/Malcolm and Suzanne Napoleonic-set mysteries, of which the latest, London Gambit, comes out this week.

LondonGambitHiRez Tracy_author_pic_ 1

Isn’t that a gorgeous cover?

And now over to Tracy, for If you like…Ensemble Series:

I’ve always loved series as both a reader and a writer. I love delving into a world and staying there. Perhaps for this reason, I particularly like “ensemble series” – series in which there may be a central character or couple but in which there is also a large cast of recurring characters. In my own series, I love writing the complicated marriage of former spies Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch, but I also love following the other characters. Harry and Cordelia Davenport, attempting to rebuild their own marriage; David Worsley and Simon Tanner, prevented by the time they live in from having an open relationship, though London Gambit finds them in effect raising children together; Addison and Blanca, Malcolm’s valet and Suzanne’s maid, who are spies themselves and have their own romantic thread; Lady Frances, Malcolm’s grand dame aunt, with her string of lovers and numerous children of varying parentage; Raoul O’Roarke, Suzanne’s former spymaster and Malcolm’s father, with complicated relationships with both of them, who may now be at the fragile beginning of a romance of his own with with the Rannoch children’s former governess, Laura Dudley. The end of London Gambit is a game changer that the shifts the board the series is played on and affects all these characters and their relationships with each other. As a writer, it left me simultaneously feeling a bit guilty for what I put my characters through and also very excited to explore where the various characters will go next.

If you like “ensemble series” you may like…

Lauren’s Pink Carnation series – one of the delights of this series for me was following the wonderful cast from book to book and seeing them and their inter-relationships grow and change. Even the relationships between couples who had seemingly already had a “happily ever after.”

Deborah Crobmie’s Duncan and Gemma series – I mentioned in another post recently that reading a new book in this wonderful mystery series set in present day London is like sitting down for a cup of tear sharing a pint in a favorite pub with an old friend. Duncan and Gemma are vibrant, wonderful characters but their friends, co-workers, and children also have ongoing story lines I am eager to pursue.

Winston Graham’s Poldark series – the central triangle of Ross, Demelza, and Elizabeth is fascinating, but the other characters, from miners to aristocrats, make for a richly textured portrait of late 18th/early19th century Cornwall that comes to vivid life in this series (and in the 1970s and current television adaptations).

C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr series – Sebastian has enough ongoing romantic and familial tensions of his own, but his friends, enemies (the most formidable of whom is also his father-in-law), servants, and family add wonderful complexity to the story. In this series, as in others, it’s fun meeting characters in the course of a stand-alone mystery and seeing them become part of the ongoing ensemble.

Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series – I loved Emily and Colin from the first, but I also love following the secondary characters, seeing who will come to the fore in which book, watching them grow and confront new challenges.

Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series – I found the first book in this series years ago on the “new” shelf at the library. It’s a fabulous mystery, but what had me eagerly scanning the lists for the next book was the already complicated relationships among the characters. It’s a harrowing journey at times, but in a way that only makes me all the more wager for the next installment in the series.

Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series – Julia’s family may at times drive Julia (and Brisbane) mad, but they add so much to this series, both in their interactions with the main characters and in their own story lines.

So many thanks to Tracy for this amazing list, which contains so many favorites old and new, historical and contemporary.

Which are your favorite ensemble series?

I imagine we could have a great deal of fun coming up with a companion list of ensemble TV series. Downton Abbey, anyone? Doc Martin, Grantchester, more Poldark….

Check back next Monday for more about London Gambit— and a give away!



If You Like….

Monday, May 11th, 2015

After a long hiatus, If You Like is back! It’s all thanks to Tracy Grant, who provided this week’s guest If You Like post on one of my favorite topics: governess books.

Without any further ado, if you like governess books… here’s the lovely Tracy Grant, with some recommendations:

Mayfair AffairMy book The Mayfair Affair, which releases, on May 15 is many things–a historical mystery, a spy story, an adventure. But it is also a governess story. The book begins with Laura Dudley, governess to the children of my central spy couple Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch, accused of the murder of a powerful duke. Laura has been in the background in earlier books in the series. It was fun to explore her story and secrets. In honor of Laura, here are some of my favorite governess stories.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. How could I not start with this? The archetypal governess book. I first read it at the age of nine and discover new things in the story to this day.

The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig. One of my favorite books in a favorite series. I love Laura Grey, intelligent, sensible but with an adventurous heart. And I think it’s cool both Lauren and I, separately, named our quite different governess characters Laura!

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stuart. When I was thirteen I thought this was one of the most romantic books I’d ever read. I still do in many ways. It’s also a Cinderella story and a wonderful, gripping adventure set in the French countryside.

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh. An intensely emotional story that stayed with me long after I read it. Definite echoes of Jane Eyre but with a fresh spin.

The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton. The central characters are the four American débutantes who marry into the British aristocracy, but the governess is an important character in her own right. A wonderful portrait of the limited options faced by women without fortune or family and the challenges of living as a governess part and yet not part of a family. Her name is Laura Testvalley. I honestly didn’t think about her name being Laura as well until I wrote this post. I wonder subconsciously if that’s why I named my own Laura.

What are your favorite governess stories?

Thanks so much, Tracy! I cannot wait to read your governess book. (Which, if I remember correctly, comes out this Friday.)

And why do you think there are so many governesses named Laura?

The Other DaughterGovernesses are a topic dear to my heart right now because the heroine of my upcoming book, The Other Daughter, starts out the novel as a nursery governess. Her life takes some rather strange and ungovernessy twists after that, but the opening of the book is an homage to one of my all time favorite books, Nine Coaches Waiting, which Tracy discusses above.

For more governess book recommendations, here is another list I compiled for If You Like a few years ago. You’ll notice a certain amount of overlap….



If You Like….

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Since this is Pink Anniversary month, if you like The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, you’ll probably like….

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy: the original flower-named spy. His exploits are a generation earlier than those of the Carnation, during the Terror, but the same spirit prevails.

Scaramouche, by Rafael Sabatini. Like the Pimpernel, this is set a decade or so before the Pink books, during the height of the Revolution, and has one of the best opening lines ever: “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” A true, old-fashioned, swashbuckling adventure.

The Spymaster’s Lady, by Joanna Bourne. Moving into the realm of historical romance, Joanna Bourne writes the best Napoleonic spy novels out there, going deeply into what it really means to live in the shadows.

To Catch an Heiress, by Julia Quinn and The Accidental Duchess, by Jessica Benson. For sheer, madcap comedy– with spies– you can’t beat these two Regency romances. Never was spy more beset. Or dialogue funnier.

— Speaking of clever dialogue… we can’t leave out Georgette Heyer. Among others, try Sprig Muslin, my inspiration for what I call “mob scenes” (i.e. comic scenes involving a lot of people talking at once). Or pretty much any Georgette Heyer, really.

With This Ring, by Amanda Quick. This book provided the inspiration for Miss Gwen’s literary ambitions, as the heroine is a writer of horrid novels. It’s also very similar in tone to the first Pink book.

— Tracy Grant’s novels, starting with either Secrets of a Lady or Vienna Waltz. Tracy’s beautifully written mysteries feature a husband and wife spy team, a wonderfully different spin on the world of Napoleonic espionage.

— Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave and Tasha Alexander’s And Only to Deceive. While these are both Victorian rather than Napoleonic, Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia books and Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily books tend to be bundled with the Pink books as historical mysteries featuring strong heroines and tongue in cheek humor– and I’m so flattered to be in such amazing company!

— And while we’re talking historical mystery… Kate Ross’s four Julian Kestrel mysteries, featuring a Regency dandy (or perhaps something more?) turned sleuth, starting with Cut to the Quick.

— Moving back to the madcap, Gail Carriger’s steampunk Parasol Protectorate series, starting with Soulless. There’s a lot of Miss Gwen in there. Plus werewolves.

— On to the big (and little) screen, I can’t leave out: The Scarlet Pimpernel movie with Anthony Andrews, Scarlet Pimpernel movie with Leslie Howard, and “Nob and Nobility”, Blackadder, Season III.

What would you recommend for fans of Pink I?