Weekly Reading Round-Up
January 5th, 2018

Happy 2018, all!

The new year came in with a blast of frost– in other words, perfect weather for curling up at home with a book.

It’s been an eclectic reading week for me. I started off with the first book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, Storm Front, about wizard Harry Dresden battling the forces of evil in present day Chicago.

Moving from black magic to other forms of mayhem, next up was Laurie Gelman’s Class Mom, a satirical novel about a year in the life of a kindergarten mom who brings new levels of snark to the position of class mom. (For any other Jen Lancaster fans out there, the tone reminded me a lot of Bitter is the New Black— possibly also because the heroine was named Jen.)

With a Nor’easter closing in on New York, it was time for a wintery favorite: Trisha Ashley’s A Winter’s Tale, in which a woman unexpectedly inherits the familial stately pile and rural English hijinks ensue. I can never resist a house book…

What have you been reading during this first week of the new year?

p.s. Only four days to go until The English Wife! Here’s a snowy book on a snowy day….

English Wife Snowy Day

 

One week until THE ENGLISH WIFE….
January 2nd, 2018

With the New Year comes… The English Wife! Coming to a bookstore near you exactly a week from today.

The English Wife

I may also be coming to a bookstore near you! Below, you can find my list of tour dates for The English Wife Book Tour. (But keep checking the Have Author Will Travel panel on my News page, because new events sometimes pop up!)

If you would like a signed copy, but can’t make it to any of the tour stops, the good folks at FoxTale, the Poisoned Pen, or Murder by the Book would be more than happy to oblige. If you contact them before my appearance, they’ll have me sign your book while I’m there and then ship it out to you, whether you’re the next county away or in Timbuktu.

If you already have/ have ordered a copy, but would like it signed, just email me at willig@post.harvard.edu with “Bookplate” in the header, and I will be more than happy to pop a signed bookplate in the mail to you.

And now, the tour!

New York, NY
January 9, 6:00
ENGLISH WIFE Launch!
Talk, Signing, & Party
The Corner Bookstore
1313 Madison Avenue

Woodstock, GA
January 13, 1:00
Talk & Signing
with Karen White
FoxTale Book Shoppe
105 E Main Street

Scottsdale, AZ
January 14, 2:00
Talk & Signing
with Deanna Raybourn,
& Tasha Alexander
The Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd

Houston, TX
January 17, 6:30
Talk & Signing
with Deanna Raybourn,
& Tasha Alexander
Murder by the Book
2342 Bissonnet Street

New Haven, CT
February 3, 3:00
Talk & Signing
Yale Bookstore
77 Broadway

Marietta, GA
February 9, 6:30
Talk & Signing
with Deanna Raybourn
Mountain View Library
3320 Sandy Plains Road

Buford, GA
February 10, 3:00
Talk & Signing
with Deanna Raybourn
Books for Less
2815 Buford Dr # 108A

See you next week!

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up
December 29th, 2017

There’s something about the week between Christmas and the New Year, when the world goes calm and still, that invites curling up with a blanket, a steaming cup of something caffeinated, and a pile of books. There are so many books I associate with this particular week of the year, although the one that leaps to mind first is Dorothy Sayers’s The Nine Tailors.

This week, I continued my Jenny Colgan binge with Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe . (These books are perfect for being up at two a.m. with baby. They almost make me not mind being awake. Almost.)

I took a break from books about baked goods with Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. Is it horrible to admit that I like Agatha Christie better on the screen than on the page? Her writing is very spare and very cinematic, with quick breaks between viewpoints. I love her stories for the story of them, but when it comes to style, I much prefer Dorothy Sayers.

After my little excursion into crime, I returned to my Colgan marathon with Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe (self-explanatory). This one has the added bonus of being partly set in my own New York, and being very recognizably my own New York (which isn’t always the case in books).

Now, with the new year approaching, it’s just about time for me to really knuckle down on my new book. Which means finding a series to read while I work. I’m thinking of giving the Dresden Files a go. Any thoughts?

What have you been reading this week? And are there any books you particularly associate with this time of year?

 

Two weeks until THE ENGLISH WIFE!
December 26th, 2017

Merry, merry, all! On this quiet day after Christmas, here’s my belated holiday present to you: the first chapter of The English Wife!

Happy holidays!

The English Wife

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up
December 22nd, 2017

As the countdown to Christmas continues, I’ve been on a Jenny Colgan Christmas book binge, reading the two sequels to Sweetshop of Dreams: Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop and The Christmas Surprise.

Now that I’m approaching the end of the last one, I feel quite at a loss for what to read next. I have a few Very Dark and Serious Books I’ve been meaning to read, but that might be too much shock to the system– rather like going from being bundled up with hot cocoa to jumping into an icy river.

So… does anyone have any recommendations for good Christmas-themed British chick lit? (Or mystery. I could move sideways to cozy mystery, as long as there’s a village involved. Preferably with thatch.)

What have you been reading this week?

 

The “Lost” Introduction to THE MISCHIEF OF THE MISTLETOE
December 21st, 2017

It’s that time of year again: time for the annual posting of the Lost Intro to The Mischief of the Mistletoe.

Why “lost”, you say?

I’d like to claim that Turnip misplaced it somewhere between his carnation-embroidered handkerchiefs and his private stash of Christmas puddings. But that would be unfair to Turnip (and Arabella complained). So here’s the real story.

As you know, Jane Austen appears in Mistletoe as a side character. This terrified me. Sure, I’d dragged Napoleon through the mud, written about the madness of King George, taken the name of various other historical characters in vain, but Austen? No. I lived in fear of angry Austen-ites coming after me with stakes fashioned from annotated copies of Austen’s Complete Works.

So I decided to include a little “scholarly” introduction to the novel, just to let everyone know that everything was all in good fun. The problem? My publisher was afraid that people would think it was a real scholarly introduction.

Out it went– but here it is, back for your amusement:

From the Introduction to the Oxford Addendum to the Cambridge Companion of the Collected Letters of Jane Austen:

“… the Dempsey Collection, as it is called, was for some time denied a place in the Austenian epistolary canon. Due to the destruction of the bulk of Austen’s correspondence after her death, for some time there were believed to be only one hundred and sixty letters extent. The discovery of a cache of correspondence, preserved in an old trunk in an attic in Norfolk, underneath a series of shockingly gaudy waistcoats embroidered in a carnation print, tucked inside an early nineteenth century recipe book concerned entirely with Christmas puddings, was thought for some time by the Fellows of the Royal College of Austen Studies to be nothing more than a malicious act of sabotage on the part of unscrupulous members of the rival Dickens Society, who had turned to thuggery as the inevitable result of immoderate consumption of late Victorian serial fiction. Although the Dickens Society denied the charge, relations between the two groups remained frosty, culminating in the great Tea Incident of 1983, which scandalized Oxbridge and caused a rift of which the reverberations are felt to this day. As footnote clashed against footnote, and members of warring factions refused to pass the port at High Table, the Dempsey Collection was relegated for some time to the academic abyss, discarded as nothing more than Austenian apocrypha.

“After two decades of painstaking scrutiny, including chemical testing, textual analysis, and the consultation of several Magic 8 balls, the scholarly community has tentatively accepted the Dempsey collection as genuine, with some significant reservations. Although the dates of the letters and the identity of the author have, indeed, been authenticated, there are serious doubts as to the veracity of the contents. While Jane Austen writes in her own name, addressing the letters to a supposedly “real” young lady of her acquaintance, the events narrated within them are of such a sensational and fantastical nature as to defy all belief.

“The more serious members of the academic establishment adhere to the theory that Austen was, in fact, engaged in an epistolary novel, a style she employed for both the unfinished Lady Susan and the original draft of Elinor and Marianne, the novel that was to become Sense and Sensibility. There is some argument that the letters comprise a failed early draft of her incomplete novel, The Watsons. As in that work, the Dempsey collection features a heroine returned to the unaffectionate bosom of her family after being disappointed in her hopes of an inheritance from a wealthy aunt, who casts her from the household upon the elderly aunt’s imprudent second marriage to a handsome young captain in the army. Many of the names Austen uses in the Watsons appear in the Dempsey collection, although somewhat altered.

“There, however, all resemblance ends….

“That the letters and their contents were, in fact, the product of a contemporary correspondence conducted with an actual acquaintance in reaction to authentic events is a possibility entertained only by the most radical fringe of Austen scholars. This view is generally discredited…

“What Englishman, one may ask, would answer to the name of Turnip?”

Excerpt reproduced courtesy of the author, Perpetua Fotherington-Smythe, M. Phil., D. Phil, R. Phil, F.R.C.A.S.*, S.o.S.A.S.S.I..**, GAE (MEOAE).***

* Fellow of the Royal College of Austen Studies
** Symposium of the Society of Austen and Similarly Superior Interlocutors
*** Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the Austenian Epistle

Mistletoe_cvr Mistletoe Paperback

 

Monday Give Away Winner
December 21st, 2017

The winner of this Monday’s give away is…

… Diane! (Of Comment #15.)

Congrats, Diane! If you let me know where to send them, I’ll put your books in the mail to you.

Happy holidays!

 

Teaser Tuesday
December 19th, 2017

Three more weeks until The English Wife arrives in stores!

Last week, as I worked on the edits for my part of the next WWW book, I was rustling around in my photo files looking for some Lusitania pictures when I stumbled across my picture archive for The English Wife. So, just for fun, here’s a visual tour of The English Wife, from the Hudson Valley to England to France to Newport to Manhattan to the Hudson Valley….

The book opens in a grand faux English manor on the Hudson:

1024px-Lyndhurst_(mansion)

Where the body of the owner, Bayard Van Duyvil, is found in a folly by the river:

Country House 3

(Apologies– I took this picture in an actual folly in the woods near Cold Spring, but in summer rather than winter. So just imagine snow and ice, please.)

Bay’s sister, Janie, is determined to discover the truth, teaming up with a reporter from the notorious tabloid, the World. (The building with the gold dome is the World building. The picture next to it is a close up of the entrance to the World building on Park Row, where all the major newspapers had their headquarters.)

180px-Newspaper_Row,_New_York_City,_1900 Park Row 1890s

Their quest takes us back to 1890s London, from the seamier bits of the theatre world…

Tivoli Poster 1900 Alhambra poster Leicester_Square_with_the_Alhambra_formerly_the_Royal_Panopticon_ILN_1874

… to the swells on horseback on Rotton Row…

Rotten_Row_by_James_Valentine_1894

… and the gardens and salons of Paris…

Jardin des Tuileries 1899

… to the private beach clubs of Newport…

Bailey's Beach

… to the dignified brownstones of Manhattan’s old elite…

Mrs Astor's Brownstone 2

… to the newly built mansions on 5th Avenue.

Astor Mansion

And back again to the Hudson Valley, via the train from Grand Central Depot…

1880_Grand_Central

…to the station in Cold Spring (where you can now eat very good burgers– but I digress).

coldspringstuff2

Exactly what happens in those locations I leave to you to find out– when The English Wife comes out on January 9th!

The English Wife

 

Monday Give Away
December 18th, 2017

Happy Monday! Today we have a holiday double-header, with two romance novels up for grabs in one give away: Laura Lee Gurkhe’s No Mistress of Mine and Loretta Chase’s Dukes Prefer Blondes.

Here are the official blurbs:

No Mistress of MineUSA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke is back with the latest in her dazzling An American Heiress in London series, in which a reformed rogue finds all his honorable resolutions tested by the only woman who ever broke his heart . . .

After spending his youth as one of the wildest rakes in the ton, Lord Denys Somerton has devoted the past six years to putting his past behind him. He is determined to fulfill his duties, find a suitable wife, and start a family, but that plan changes when Lola Valentine—the red-haired temptress from his past—returns to London, sparking the same irresistible desires that almost ruined his life once before.

Lola is a woman with no romantic illusions. She knew love would never be enough for a British lord and an American girl from the wrong side of the tracks. For Denys’s sake, she walked away from him and the glittering life he offered. But when an unexpected inheritance brings her back to London, Lola discovers the passion between them is as hot as ever. Can they vanquish it, or will it burn out of control again and destroy them both?

and

dukes prefer blondesBiweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.

Though he’s unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford’s never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn’t part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her . . .

It’s an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the ton’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?

For a chance to win both books, here’s your question: what’s your favorite romance novel?

Winners will be announced on Wednesday.

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up
December 15th, 2017

It’s the most reading-ful time of the year? If not that, it’s certainly a good time of year to brew a cup of tea and read over the head of a (hopefully) sleeping baby while the wind wuthers around the windows and the radiator creaks and groans.

On my list this past week? A Bed of Scorpions, the second mystery in the London-set Sam Clare series, about an editor turned accidental sleuth. This one involved a mysterious death in an art gallery, and, of course, plenty of snark about publishing.

I stayed in England, but moved from London to Cornwall and mystery to chick lit with Jenny Colgan’s Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery. It’s been my experience that sequels generally don’t work well in chick lit/women’s fiction, but this book was an exception for me. There was enough that the characters still had to resolve, really, seriously resolve, that it didn’t feel like a thin follow-up. Also, Christmas. And puffins. And baking. It was just the right book at the right time for me.

I meant to move on from there to Laurie King’s Justice Hall, or to Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, which I’ve been meaning to read forever (or at least since October), but once you’re in a certain sort of small village British chick lit sort of mood, nothing will do but more small village British chick lit (possibly with a side of Midsomer Murders and the odd episode of The Vicar of Dibley), so I am currently in the middle of Jenny Colgan’s Sweetshop of Dreams, which has the added bonus of not one, but two Christmas themed sequels waiting in the wings.

What have you been reading this week?