Category: Historical Fiction

Drum roll, please…

It’s always a thrilling day for me when I can reveal a new cover for a book that is headed your way in the months to come. I love the artistry of book covers and I am not the least bit ashamed to admit I put a lot of stock in a book’s cover.

The old maxim that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover is really more a call to appraise someone’s character by who she is on the inside (rather than her outward appearance) than it is advice about an actual book.  A person can’t always help how she looks. But an artist is in full control of a book cover’s look.  You can’t just say of a book cover, “Well, that’s just its DNA.” A book cover is the first visScarlettMelanieual connection readers make with a book; and usually the only one that’s handed to them. The rest of the visuals we come up with on our own as we read.  So I expect a lot out of covers!

This one delights me.

My first reaction when I saw this beautiful cover for STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD, which is headed your way in January 2016, was that the color palette is perfect, and that the lettering – which will be in shimmery gold – is wonderfully apropos for the golden age of Hollywood; the time period of the majority of this book’s storyline. This is a book about two studio secretaries who become friends while working on the set of most iconic film of all time, Gone With the Wind.  One of them longs to be wanted, and the other longs to be needed. They both go after their desires against the backdrop of the most memorable movie ever made, and at times their desires collide, as the desires of two flawed people often do. ScarlettMel3 copy

The amazing thing about true friends is it that theirs is a relationship that is chosen. Friends decide over and over again, as they grow and mature and seek out their life dreams, to remain close to each other. It’s the easiest relationship to walk away from, but we decide, again and again, to love our closest friends, despite all that is happening around us and inside us, despite hurt feelings and cross purposes. This is a book about friendship in a time a change, just as Gone With the Wind is a story – among other things – about the friendship of Scarlett and Melanie in a time of change.

ScarlettMel2This book is about Violet – who wants to be needed – and Audrey – who wants to be wanted, and this stunning woman on the cover above could honestly be either one of them. And because her face is mostly hidden from us, which I like so very much, it is up to each reader to decide who the woman on the front is, which I also like.

There will be much more about this book in the weeks ahead – I am hard at work in revisions on it right now – but in the meantime I’d love to hear what you think about this cover! And what you know of the book so far…

A satisfying song…

WillowFrostEver since finishing The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford a few years back, I had been one of those standing anxiously in line for his next one. (If you’ve not read Hotel, you really need to examine your To Be Read priorities!)  So of course I was very happy to hear that Songs Of Willow Frost  was coming our way in 2013 and not only that, but also that Jamie Ford would be at Warwick’s Books in San Diego’s beautiful gem La Jolla, to speak about it.

I love talking about the books I’ve loved but I hate to give too much away in the telling. Reviews matter to me, not just the writing of them but reading them and sharing them and I am always grateful when a reviewer manages to tell me why she or he loved (or didn’t love) a book without spoiling anything for me.  I can tell you that just as Hotel  yanked on my heartstrings, so did Willow.  I can tell you that the prose is wonderfully unpretentious and yet deep and luminous, and that there are great lines that you just have to read twice or three times they are so meaningful. I can tell you there are surprises along the way to keep you turning pages and needing to know what is to become of the Chinese-American boy whose mother relinquished him to an orphanage years before and who suddenly sees her on a movie screen in a Seattle theater with a different name.

I can’t say I loved it more than Hotel, or even as much, though I did love it. Perhaps it was Hotel‘s premise that resonated within me to a deeper degree. I admit I have a hard time summoning empathy for women who allow and then stay with men who abuse them. My deepest apologies if I offend anyone by saying that. I am not saying I can’t summon the empathy, I am saying it is difficult for me.  But this story, which moves back and forth between William’s story and his mother’s, is moving and compelling, even in those moments when I, had I been Willow, would have done something very different.

Here are some of my favorite lines:

“She heard the flickering of the shutter, the hum of the lights, and the silence punctuated by the sound of Colin’s footsteps, fading.”

 

“The shadow woman inhaled, which caused no small relief to William as he stepped closer. She was clothed in a pale blouse and skirt. The tub was dry. It was as though she were bathing in memory alone. Her fur stole covered her chest like a blanket. Her hat sat in the bottom of the tub, near the drain. William could hear a baby crying in another apartment; somewhere down the hall, though the haunting, desperate sound was gone so fast he might have imagined it.”

 

“It was the words of parents that kept most of the orphans here – the silken bondage of a mother’s promise, “I’ll be back by Christmas, if you’re a good boy.” Those mythic words, laced with happy-ever-afters, became millstones come January, when ice deckled the windows and the new boys stopped counting the days and began crying themselves to sleep, once again. After five winters at Sacred Heart, he’d learned not to hope for Christmas miracles – at least for nothing greater than a pair of hand-me-down shoes, a book of catechism, and a stocking filled with peanuts and a ripe tangerine.”

 

Songs of Willow Frost  will tug and tear and tenderize. It’s the kind of story that reminds you why stories exist.

Jamiep.s. This line at left in my copy of the book is one that I love, too.