Literary First Love – Dana Gynther

Today’s post by author Dana Gynther

Dana Gynther

When I was a kid—growing up in a college town with academics for parents—there was never a shortage of books. Between hauls from the city library, books for Christmas, novels passed on from friend to friend, I read loads when I was young (even if my older sister claims that, since I didn’t become horribly myopic like her and my brother, I scarcely touched a book in childhood).

My unquestionable first love was Dr. Seuss—I can close my eyes and still see those pale green pants, the fish that likes flowers, or a hundred other Seussian images—followed by Roald Dahl (how I loved to loathe Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge and the host of other unsavory adults from the safe confines of my “French provincial ” bed!).

My first truly “literary ” first love, however, came in the 9th grade, and was as surprising as a first kiss.   In my Advanced English class, we were assigned to read Dickens’ Great Expectations. This was greeted with rolled eyes and groans since I—and everyone else—assumed that Classics = Boredom. What a revelation! On page one, when introduced to Pip, we became aware of Dickens’ sly sense of humor, as he explained that our young orphaned hero always imagined his parents to look like their gravestones ( “square, stout, dark “). Then, on page two, we were already faced with a terrifying convict! Where were the endless pages of tedious description I’d been expecting? Where were the incomprehensible passages, the difficult vocabulary, and the annoying moral lessons?

Great Expectations not only had fast-paced adventure, but fascinating characters—Ah, the “Aged Parent “!—and none can compare to Miss Havisham.   Who could forget the first time they met her, the skinny old woman still dressed for her wedding, like “a ghastly waxwork at the Fair ” (which raised a lot of questions, admittedly, like how she took a shower, but that just added to the intrigue)?   Jilted in youth, she became frightful, embittered, and determined to manipulate others’ feelings, to break others’ hearts. Miss Havisham, for me at least, broke the mold of what an elderly woman character was like. Neither granny nor hag, she was wealthy, powerful, intimidating, and—why not?—odious too.

Vera, one of the main characters in my novel Crossing on the Paris is endowed with some of these same traits. Elderly, rich, strong, she too obsesses about her past, she too would like the perfect heir for her treasure. Although a sympathetic character, she is a distant cousin of Miss Havisham. A literary woman, Vera would have certainly read Great Expectations in her own youth. I wonder if Miss Havisham made an impact on Vera, as she did on me at the age of fourteen.

We’re giving away a copy of Dana’s novel, CROSSING ON THE PARIS, today. Just leave a comment on this post to be entered to win.

In a sweeping debut novel that marries the appeal of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs with the romantic glamor of The Titanic, Dana Gynther brings the 1920s to vibrant life.

In 1921, the Gilded Age is drawing to a close, but not aboard the great ocean liner the Paris, on its maiden voyage between Le Havre and New York. Amidst the luxurious wood paneling and plush carpets of first class is the aging Vera Sinclair, who has made the difficult decision that after thirty years in Paris she will leave her dearest friend behind and return at last to Manhattan. In the cozy family comfort of second class, Constance Stone revels in unaccustomed freedom as she returns from a brief, failed mission in Paris to her home in Worcester, Massachusetts, where her adored little daughters and dull professor husband await. And on the stifling, noisy lowest deck below the waterline, young Le Havre native Julie Vernet tests her wings in her first job—unenviably serving meals in the steering class dining room. Three very different women from very different worlds, yet aboard the Paris their lives will intersect.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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21 Responses to Literary First Love – Dana Gynther

  1. Jayne D. December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    This sounds like a wonderful story. I would love to be able to curl up with a cup of tea and read this story.

  2. Elisabeth December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds intriguing! thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Wanda December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Looking forward to spending a snowy afternoon reading this book!

  4. Gean December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    This looks like a book for me – sign me up!

  5. Paula Dolin December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks again She Reads for a chance to win – the book sounds wonderful!

  6. Kathy A. December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a very good read! And in my mind, I’m already trying to imagine how the characters lives intersect! Thank you for the chance to win!

  7. rhonda December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds perfect for me.please sign me

  8. Gwyn December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds very interesting!!! I can’t wait to read it.

  9. Kandra December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Great post! Dickens is timeless, isn’t he? This new book looks intriguing!

  10. Ruth O December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Another book to add to my list–somehow escaped reading Great Expectations in high school. Also looking forward to reading Crossing on the Paris.
    As always, thanks for good read suggestions!

  11. Carl December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Set in one of my absolute favorite periods, the early 20th Century. I’d love to win a copy of this book. Thanks for the opportunity.

  12. Kathy December 5, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    “Crossing on the Paris” has an intriguing title, and as I enjoy travel, offers a glimpse of how people in the 1920’s made their way to other continents. Thanks for the opportunity to view this part of history and the people who are interwoven into the story.

  13. Nicole December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Ooh, another fun read!

  14. deb whis December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I, too, LOVED Great Expectations. While Ii have since read other Dickens’ books, G. E. remains at the top of my favorites’ list. Thanks for the chance to win your new book.

  15. Cammi Hevener December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Sounds like a great read!! It makes me think of my sister .. I think she would love this book!

  16. Linda December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Three women meet at an intersection in life… has to be a good story. Count me in.

  17. Linda Anderson December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This sounds like a book I’d like to read. Thanks for the chance to win it.

  18. LRF December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    would like to win a copy!

  19. Shannon Brown December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I love any story set in History, and especially in the early 1900s, so I know this will be awesome, looking forward to reading it! Shannon Brown

  20. Katherine Jones December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Sounds like my kind of read. Look forward to it!

  21. Ellen S. December 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Sounds like a great read. I remember reading Great Expectations in the 9th grade too!

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