If You Like….
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.)


Name That Book
July 15th, 2017

Today, I got an email from Fiona, asking if I could identify a book for her. It didn’t ring a bell for me (or, rather, it rang a sort of bell, which turned out to be the wrong bell), so I thought I’d call in my crack team of book experts, i.e. you, to see if anyone else could put a name to it.

Here’s Fiona’s description of the Demmed Elusive Book:

I read it about 5 years ago, was paperback, cover was kind of cartoony; was it purple with the scene of her standing by a basement door that was cracked open and all you could see of her was from the waist down and she was wearing a skirt and heels?

Woman inherits house, it’s a sanctuary/safe house ends up with a big male fairy, and vampire living with her, for some reason there is a guy with a sword after her or a housemate, there are wards around the house. she and the guy get together, think she finds being near a really big tree on property comforting???????

the guy has a sword, only he seems to get through the ward, none of others he is with can

not sure if mixing books, but think there was something in attic, bit grumpy and got left alone.

I was initially thinking possibly Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper, because of the something grumpy in the attic– but I don’t think that one has a fairy.

Can anyone name that book?

Also, does anyone else have unidentified books that have been plaguing them? If you do, I’m happy to post here and see if anyone can name them!


Weekly Reading Round-Up
July 14th, 2017

I’ve been on a mystery kick this week. I started with Carol Goodman’s The Seduction of Water, in which a writing professor goes back to the Catskills hotel where she grew up to solve the mystery of her mother’s death decades before, and then moved on to the first of Francine Matthews’s Merry Folger mysteries, Death in the Off-Season, in which the Nantucket police chief’s detective daughter must prove herself as a detective by solving the murder of the black sheep brother of a prominent local family.

I’d go right into the second Merry Folger mystery, Death in Rough Water, but I’m trying to pace myself and make the series last, so, instead, I’m switching genres entirely and moving on to Amy Poeppel’s satire of the New York private school process, Small Admissions.

What have you been reading this week?


French Books Winner
July 12th, 2017

The winner of the bundle of books in French is…

Andra! (Of Comment #6.)

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

So many thanks to everyone who entered for the wonderful French books/movie recs! I’ll be running a second contest on my Facebook author page tomorrow, so pop by there for another chance to win!


Monday Give Away: En Français!
July 10th, 2017

In honor of France’s upcoming national holiday, I’m giving away copies of my books in French!

Would you like to read the first two Pink books or The Ashford Affair en français? Then now’s your chance! I’ll be giving away one set of all three here today and another on Facebook later this week.

Pink France La_mysterieuse_histoire_de_l_oeillet_rose Black Tulip France Ashford France paperback

So, for a chance to win The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, The Masque of the Black Tulip, and The Ashford Affair in French, here’s your question: what’s your favorite book or movie set in France?

The winner will be announced on Wednesday.


July 9th, 2017

The winner of the advance copy of The English Wife is…

…Erin Gehringer! (Of Comment #172.)

Congrats, Erin! If you let me know where to send it, I’ll put your book in the mail to you.

As for settings, I still have to do a proper tally, but it looks like 1890s London may have narrowly edged out the Hudson Valley for my first background post. You’ll start seeing those here on the website soon, along with an excerpt and other fun things. (Hint: I still have two ARCs left.)

More coming up soon!

English Wife Preorder


Weekly Reading Round-Up
July 7th, 2017

Happy July, all! I indulged myself over the holiday weekend with a mini-mystery binge: Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl and two of Elly Griffiths’s Ruth Galloway novels, A Dying Fall and The Outcast Dead.

Thanks to a recommendation over on my Facebook author page, I am currently immersed in The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life— which is hard to describe, but entirely absorbing. Set in the 1930s and ’40s, it’s part American historical novel, part mystery, part nineteenth century European swashbuckler, part paranormal (a ghost dog acting as spirit guide?), part goodness only knows. If, like me, you have a weakness for books that can’t quite be defined as one thing or another, then you might enjoy this one, too.

What have you been reading this week?

And speaking of reading… if you haven’t seen it yet, I’m holding my very first English Wife ARC give away! Just head over to the contest post for a chance to read The English Wife way before everyone else. The contest closes on Sunday.


THE ENGLISH WIFE On Location– and Give Away!
July 6th, 2017

Only six more months now until The English Wife appears in stores!

For a book that I think of as being primarily a New York book, The English Wife gets around. The settings in the book include 1890s London, Belle Epoque Paris, rural Lincolnshire, glitzy Newport, Gilded Age Manhattan (both uptown and down), and various points around the Hudson Valley, including Cold Spring, Carmel, and Tarrytown (but mostly Cold Spring).

So, for the next few months, I’ll be posting pictures of the various settings from the novel: the houses, the scenery, and so on.

Here’s my question for you: where should I begin? Which setting would you like to see first?

One person who comments on this post will receive an ARC of The English Wife….

Here’s the official blurb:

The English WifeFrom the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

The English Wife is available for pre-order in hardcover from your favorite local bookseller, Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, Indiebound, and Powell’s; in e-book on Kindle and Nook; and on audio CD.

The winner will be announced on Sunday.


Weekly Reading Round-Up
June 30th, 2017

There’s nothing like rediscovering an old favorite. This week, I went back to my Renaissance roots with Judith Merkle Riley’s The Master of All Desires, in which a would-be poetess with a difficult family finds herself accidentally in possession of the Undying Head of Menander, a sinister wish-granter who delights in causing doom and chaos. With the help of Nostradamus, she manages to survive French politics, Menander, and the machinations of disappointed suitors who are after her dowry (or Menander). For other history nerds out there, the send-ups of Catherine de’ Medici, Diane de Poitiers, Henri II, and a very young Mary Queen of Scots are wickedly brilliant (and spot-on).

It’s hard to find anything comparable to Judith Merkle Riley’s novels. The closest comparison would probably be Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, which combines the same rich historical detail with quirky humor, although Merkly Riley’s books all also contain a touch of the supernatural. (They did like their alchemy and diabolism in the Renaissance!) Sadly, there are only six Judith Merkle Riley books in the world– A Vision of Light and two sequels (medieval), The Serpent Garden (Tudor), The Master of All Desires (French Renaissance), and Oracle Glass (court of Louis XIV), but they are all richly researched, brilliantly funny, and hold up to any number of re-reads.

Having got that out of my system, I now have a big pile of new books to read, including two Carol Goodmans, two Elly Griffiths, a Mary Kubica, and The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life (which someone recommended over on my Facebook author page).

What have you been reading this week? And what are you planning to read over the July 4th weekend?


Weekly Reading Round-Up
June 23rd, 2017

This week, I started with Carol Goodman’s River Road, a psychological thriller about a hit and run in an upstate New York university town, and all the secrets that come out in its wake.

River Road was an emotionally fraught read, so, after that, I moved on to something a bit less gut-wrenching: Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes, in which a visiting lecturer finds herself embroiled in the student politics at a phys ed college in England. There’s always something wonderful astringent about Tey’s prose.

What have you been reading this week?