I’d wager that every woman reading this email knows of a woman that’s suffered through breast cancer. We’ve lost friends and sisters. Mothers and aunts. We’ve sat by bedsides and in waiting rooms. Sometimes we have said goodbye and sometimes we’ve celebrated with those we love as they beat this ruthless disease. But we’ve all wished there was something we could do to help.
And the amazing thing is that you can help by doing the thing you love most: reading.
About the Read Pink initiative: ‘Read Pink, now in its fourth year, is an initiative created by Penguin Group USA to promote the fight against breast cancer in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). This year, Penguin is pleased to offer fourteen bestselling women’s fiction and romance titles to raise awareness. The $25,000 donation that Penguin Group USA contributes, regardless of sales, provides vital funds to support the mission of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”
So if you’re out and about this month, grab one of the novels listed below. Make sure to select the books with the Read Pink logo. And if you don’t know what to pick, may we recommend one (or all!) of these three novels. Our particular favorites:
2013 Participating Authors:
Karen White, The Beach Trees
Nora Roberts, Chasing Fire
Erika Robuck, Hemingway’s Girl
Jodi Thomas, Just Down the Road
Carly Phillips, Perfect Fit
JoAnn Ross, Sea Glass Winter
Karen Rose, Did You Miss Me?
Catherine Anderson, Lucky Penny
Kate Jacobs, The Friday Night Knitting Club
LuAnn McLane, Pitch Perfect
Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot
Alyson Richman, The Lost Wife
Sarah Jio, The Last Camellia
Penelope Lively, How It All Began
I have to admit that I love getting a peek inside the writing rooms of my favorite authors. It’s often equal parts inspiring (that’s where she wrote the book!) and comforting (she hasn’t taken out the trash either!). But mostly I love to see what books they’re reading and the odds and ends they surround themselves with in their most creative moments.
What I love about Jojo Moyes’ writing space: the books (of course), the big comfy chair, and the view.
We’ve got all three of Lisa’s novels up for grabs today. See the form below for entry details.
The number one piece of advice I was given when I started this literary journey was, as trite as it sounds, “write what you know,” even down to the location of the story. So instead of setting my novels in Nashville, the place I currently rest my head (soft pillows only please), I set them in Memphis, the place I was born and spent most of my life. Plus, if truth were told, Memphis needs the PR!
I just published the third book, SOUTHERN AS A SECOND LANGUAGE, in my Dixie series, and not only are each of the books stand-alones, I’m also happy to admit there is an element of truth in all three. First off, I really was a Vermont innkeeper! “Was” being the key word, as three sub-zero winters sent me speeding back down South without so much as a peek over my shoulder. That crazy misadventure left room for numerous thinly veiled accounts that I could add to my debut, WHISTLIN’ DIXIE IN A NOR’EASTER. In particular, my little senior citizen Yorkie, who accompanied me on the move up North, HATED the snow (as did I), not to mention the twenty-five-degree-below-zero temps, so I gave her one of the starring roles in the book. Her name was Holly but she became Princess Grace Kelly, or Gracie for short. Let’s just say tee teeing outside for her was not an option.
Next, in YANKEE DOODLE DIXIE, I really was the promotion director of a top radio station in Memphis and I could bring so many fun, true-to-life radio pranks to my story. Like when Johnny Dial, the morning deejay, tells his listeners a panda escaped from the Memphis Zoo and his partner dresses in a panda suit appearing in various locales around Memphis. That really happened. And people honestly fell for it.
And now in SOUTHERN AS A SECOND LANGUAGE, my protagonist, Leelee Satterfield, lives with her second mother Kissie, an eighty-three-year-old African American steel magnolia, who peppers her with advice, whether she asks for it or not. I really had a Kissie in my life that never hesitated to correct me when I veered off the straight and narrow. Without her I never would have learned how to cook, clean or properly wash and fold my laundry. Times were different in the South when I was growing up. Many a white mother held her newborn in her arms for the first time and after coming home from the hospital handed that baby straight over to her black mother. Writing about Kissie was the best part of the SOUTHERN AS A SECOND LANGUAGE odyssey. She died in 2002 but I felt like she was right next to me. I miss her so much, I ache. Creating the character of Kissie brought the real Kissie back to life.
* * *
Not only do Southerners talk slowly, but sometimes the whole language is hard to understand. No one realizes that more than Memphis belle Leelee Satterfield. Since she debuted inWhistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, Leelee has entertained tens of thousands of readers. Watching her tackle life and love in Vermont was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to antics, charades, mischief, and romance. Now that she’s back in Memphis, and starting a new relationship with Peter, the Yankee chef from her New England inn, you’d think she’d sit back and enjoy her newly crafted life back home in Dixie. But that just wouldn’t be as much fun.
Opening up a new restaurant with Peter isn’t as easy as she had anticipated, especially when it comes to the differences between the North and the South. When Leelee’s ex-husband, Baker, returns unexpectedly, everything else goes haywire. Throw her three crazy best friends into the mix; Riley, her meddlesome next-door neighbor who sells Pampered Chef for a living; and Kissie, Leelee’s beloved second mother who claims Riley sits on her “last raw nerve,” and you have the perfect recipe for a sassy, Southern delicacy.
Lisa Patton’s Southern as a Second Language is an endearing and chuckle-inducing tale that keeps us guessing up to the very last page how it all works out in the end. Whether among maple trees in Vermont or magnolia-filled Memphis, Leelee’s charm, heart, and laughter will delight readers in any climate.
Meeting with your book club this month to discuss THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND? Try making this amazing dish inspired by the novel.
When Sophie asks the Kommandant in The Girl You Left Behind if there are any dishes he would prefer her to cook, he answers that the meal she served to him and his men that same evening is one they would enjoy having again in the near future. She describes to him how she prepares the meal that is called Chou Farci.
It’s sausage meat, some vegetables and herbs, wrapped in cabbage leaves and poached in stock.
I was so inspired by her explanation that I wanted to find out what was so special about this take on the ordinary beef and rice stuffed cabbage, baked in tomato sauce, that I’d grown up eating. I decided it would be the perfect October She Reads dish, and imagined ladies carrying towel wrapped Crock Pot liners of steaming stuffed cabbage parcels to their book club meetings to discuss Jo Jo Moyes’ First World War novel.
The first thing I thought of when buying my ingredients, the pork sausage, in particular, was the baby that Sophie was holding wrapped in a blanket on her first meeting with the new Kommandant assigned to her village. Just as she worried about his reaction to the baby in her arms, had he taken a closer look, I was concerned that the types of sausage available to me wouldn’t be appropriate for the traditional French stuffed cabbage dish that the German officer was so fond of. And “some vegetables and herbs” was a vague enough description to keep me chewing my lip, hoping I’d be able to pull it off.
I decided to stick with ingredients that would have been readily available to Sophie in her wartime, French farm village. Just what would have been in those crates the Kommandant had delivered to the inn? Contaminant-free, freshly baked, crusty bread from the village baker, carrots, onions, and basic herbs, such as parsley and sage. I added one of my farm fresh eggs to the list to make sure my cabbage bundles would hold together while they poached. The butcher at my favorite meat market directed me to his most mild, basic links and I was on my way.
1 lb. mild sausage. Mine was of the Italian variety, but very basic. You could even use mild breakfast sausage, if you like.
2 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. finely grated carrot
1/4 c. sliced green onions
2 T chopped, fresh parsley
1 tsp. minced sage
1/2 tsp. salt. You may want to cook a little of the filling without salt to taste it. Your sausage may be salty enough.
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 to 8 cabbage leaves
3 to 4 cups stock
Gently coax 6 to 8 leaves from a head of cabbage by cutting each at the stem.
Cut the hard vein from the base of each leaf in a “V” shape so that the leaf will fold over the sausage stuffing easily.
Bring a stock pot of water to boil. Blanch the leaves until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and thrust into very cold water to stop the cooking process.
Squeeze the sausage from its casings into a bowl.
Add the bread crumbs, carrots, onions, herbs, egg, and salt and pepper.
Mix together to thoroughly combine.
Place a ball of filling in the center of each cabbage leaf and wrap the sides of the leaf up to make a round parcel.
Do this with remaining stuffing and leaves.
Lay the stuffed leaves in the bottom of a stock pot.
Cover with stock.
Bring the liquid to a poaching temperature, just until there is barely any movement. Poach for 2 hours.
You could also place them in the bottom of a slow cooker and cover with the stock. 8 hours on low should do it, but you should keep an eye on the level of the liquid to make sure it doesn’t evaporate away.
I really wanted to thicken the poaching liquid once the stuffed cabbage leaves were cooked to make a sauce, but Sophie didn’t, so I didn’t either.
6 to 8 servings.
Thanks to the amazing folks at Random House and Booklist, we are able to invite you to join us for a free webinar this afternoon introducing four soon-to-be released novels. I’ll be one of the panelists, discussing my novel THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS and I’ll be joined by Vivien Shotwell author of VIENNA NOCTURN, Susan Rieger author of THE DIVORCE PAPERS, and Amy Talkington author of LIV FOREVER.
The webinar will be hosted by the Library Marketing team at Random House and the amazing staff at Booklist. It’s free to join and I’d especially love to see you there! For those who aren’t able to participate at the scheduled time, the entire webinar will be recorded and available afterward. I’ll update this post after the event. Here’s all the pertinent information:
Time: 2:00 pm, EST
Length: 1 hour
Login Information: click here
There are few words as likely to elicit a snort of laughter in our house than ‘work-life balance’. I have great intentions, to be sure; there is almost no week that goes by that I don’t promise myself this will be the week I will take long walks in the middle of the day, that I will cook slow meals, take more exercise, that I will just sit with the children without muttering the words: “I just need to put this wash on.” I’m not sure my husband even tries.
We get up at 6am and start work as soon as we wake; it’s not that we are natural earlybirds (you only have to see my face as he shoves the first cup of coffee into my hand to know that), but with three children, a farm full of animals, and a schedule so complicated that it sometimes requires diagrams to even understand it, you can be sure that if you do not work in the clear moments, the rest of the day will get eaten up by vets’ appointments or school meetings or household disasters or just the tide of domestic ephemera that seems to encroach every day.
We work when we can because we have both been freelance (my husband now works for a newspaper) and once you have lived from erratic paycheck to paycheck you never feel quite confident that the work will continue. I have spent enough years as an only moderately successful author not to take the last two years’ success for granted, so much of it has been spent on the road (four trips to the US alone), trying to consolidate this extraordinary burst of popularity. My husband and I have nicknamed it ‘the year of stamina’. My children simply raise their eyes and ask me, sarcastically, who I am again?
But here’s the secret we don’t dare tell them. We do it because we’re trying to give them security, yes. But we also do it because we love it. Oh sure those of us who complain about work-life balance moan about how tired we are, and how we want to create more time for ourselves. But I suspect many of us wouldn’t know what to do with it. Because it is a privilege to do a job that you love, to spend your working life lost in the thing you’ve always wanted to do. It is a privilege to be able to make a living from it.
And so while yes, I am doing my best to spend more time hanging out with my children and working on my upper arms, there is still nothing I like more than heading up the stairs to my office knowing that I am about to do an uninterrupted 12 hour writing shift.
Balanced, probably not. But if you are lucky enough to do the thing you love then perhaps there is no need for balance. It’s as bizarre as saying that you should love your partner or children ‘in moderation’.
Don’t forget that we’re giving away all three of Jojo’s novels this month. See this post for entry details.
We’ve got a copy of Jennifer’s latest novel, THE SPYMISTRESS, up for grabs today. Enter by using the form below.
Miss Elizabeth Van Lew—a spinster of independent means, a Richmond native, and a proud Virginian—was an unlikely heroine of the Civil War, and yet she was celebrated by Northern generals as “a true Union woman as true as steel” for risking everything to care for Union prisoners of war and to smuggle crucial Confederate military secrets to the North.
I first discovered the remarkable heroine of my most recent novel, The Spymistress, years ago while researching another Civil War tale. One of my characters, a regimental surgeon in the Union army, was captured at Gettysburg, and when I investigated where he likely would have been taken, all paths led to Richmond’s infamous Libby Prison. Nearly every account I read of that notorious place mentioned Elizabeth Van Lew and the astonishing, audacious risks she took on behalf of the Union captives there. She made such an impression on me that I immediately wrote her into a chapter of that earlier novel, but even as I did, I was convinced that she was so unexpectedly daring, courageous, and clever that she deserved an entire book of her own.
To uncover the truth about Elizabeth Van Lew, I relied upon memoirs and diaries written by Richmond civilians and Union prisoners of war, as well as newspaper reports and official documents from the National Archives. My first and best resource, however, was Elizabeth’s “Occasional Journal,” an intermittent diary and scrapbook she kept of her wartime experiences. It was really more of a collection of loose papers than a complete, polished memoir, but I was fortunate that any account existed at all, as it was incredibly dangerous for a spy to keep detailed records of her illicit activities. During the war, Elizabeth would hide most of her journal, but she kept certain incriminating pages by her bedside so she could hastily burn them if the house was raided in the night.
After the war, Elizabeth declined an offer to publish a memoir, believing with good reason that doing so would further provoke the anger of her Richmond neighbors, many of whom still resented her for her wartime support of the Union even decades after peace was declared. Instead she hid the manuscript away for many years, revealing its location only upon her deathbed in September 1900. When the box was brought to her from its hiding place, she examined the manuscript and exclaimed, “Why, there is nearly twice as much more. What has become of it?”
The missing pages, if they truly existed, have never been found, but what remains provides a fascinating if incomplete glimpse into Elizabeth Van Lew’s remarkable wartime adventures—and offered me the inspiration for The Spymistress, a tribute to a Civil War heroine whose name should not be forgotten.
* * *
Born to slave-holding aristocracy in Richmond, Virginia, and educated by Northern Quakers, Elizabeth Van Lew was a paradox of her time. When her native state seceded in April 1861, Van Lew’s convictions compelled her to defy the new Confederate regime. Pledging her loyalty to the Lincoln White House, her courage would never waver, even as her wartime actions threatened not only her reputation, but also her life.
Van Lew’s skills in gathering military intelligence were unparalleled. She helped to construct the Richmond Underground and orchestrated escapes from the infamous Confederate Libby Prison under the guise of humanitarian aid. Her spy ring’s reach was vast, from clerks in the Confederate War and Navy Departments to the very home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Although Van Lew was inducted posthumously into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, the astonishing scope of her achievements has never been widely known. In Chiaverini’s riveting tale of high-stakes espionage, a great heroine of the Civil War finally gets her due.
Join us tonight for a Twitter Chat with our friends at Literary New England. We’ll be discussing THE MOVEMENT OF STARS with author Amy Brill from 8:00 – 9:00 EST. Use hashtag #LNEChat and make sure to follow @LitNewEngland, @AmyBrill and @SheReadsBookCLB.
It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price has lived all twenty-four years of her life according to the principles of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. But up on the rooftop each night, Hannah pursues a very different—and elusive—goal: discovering a comet and thereby winning a gold medal awarded by the King of Denmark, something unheard of for a woman.
And then she meets Isaac Martin, a young, dark-skinned whaler from the Azores who, like herself, has ambitions beyond his expected station in life. Drawn to his intellectual curiosity and honest manner, Hannah agrees to take Isaac on as a student. But when their shared interest in the stars develops into something deeper, Hannah’s standing in the community begins to unravel, challenging her most fundamental beliefs about work and love, and ultimately changing the course of her life forever.
Inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America, The Movement of Stars is a richly drawn portrait of desire and ambition in the face of adversity.
* * *
Amy Brill is a writer and producer. Her articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous publications including One Story, The Common, Redbook, Real Simple, Salon,Guernica, and Time Out New York. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has been awarded fellowships in fiction by the Edward Albee Foundation, Jentel, the Millay Colony, Fundacion Valparaiso, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. In 2005, she was the Robert and Charlotte Baron Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA.
As a broadcast journalist, she received a George Foster Peabody Award for writing MTV’s The Social History of HIV, and she researched, wrote, or produced over a dozen other projects for the network’s pro-social initiatives. She has also produced online projects fostering public dialogue on arts, culture, and society for PBS, The New York Foundation for the Arts, and other organizations. A native New Yorker, Amy lives in Brooklyn with her husband. They have two small daughters, neither of whom can yet tie her own shoes.
What’s that? You’ve not read a Jojo Moyes novel yet? We’ve got the cure for that! You are officially invited to read this month’s book club selection, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND, with us this month.
I’m not one of those authors who can write the same sort of book every time, although I have a huge respect for those who can (Jack Reacher novels are my current burly comfort read). For a long time this lack of consistency worked against me; it made my novels difficult to market in the UK, where a lot of book retailing is done through supermarkets, and buyers, apparently, require a product as uniform as a tin of beans.
But eleven books in, I can only ever write the book that is humming away like an engine at the front of my head, and that might be a 1946 love story set around war brides on an aircraft carrier, or a mystery set in a community of modern-day whale watchers in South Australia.
After the global success of Me Before You, I worried for a while that readers would want the same thing again. Worried because the story that was resolutely taking shape in my head was as far removed from that book as it could get, an epic love story, spanning a century, that revolved around art stolen in wartime, and the effect that it had on two couples many decades apart. Different characters, different themes, different tone.
But as The Girl You Left Behind launched, and the first reviews came in, I began to relax, and I realized that there was more of a consistency than I had realized. My books may be set decades, and continents apart, they may be issue-based and small scale, or sprawling and intricately plotted, but what they all contain (hopefully!) is a big, emotional read, a plot that will draw the reader in and haul them along through a new landscape.
What they all contain – and this is, I hope, what keeps the readers with me – is love.
I first heard of Jojo Moyes three years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was on a business trip for She Reads and found myself deep in conversation with a literary agent who was singing the praises of an author she’d just discovered. The author was Jojo Moyes and the book was her first U.S. published novel, THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER. And then last year Jojo quite literally took the world by story with her novel, ME BEFORE YOU. So it should come as no surprise that her latest book, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND, is just as spellbinding. We knew, the moment we read it, that it had to be our October book club selection. And we are so fortunate to have Jojo Moyes with us this month. She’s given us a glimpse not only inside her life as a writer, but inside the very room she writes. Stick with us through October and you’ll get to know this very talented and charming writer.
Thanks to the amazing folks at Pamela Dorman Books (Viking/Penguin) we’ve giving away copies of all three novels to one lucky winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
From the New York Times–bestselling author of Me Before You, a spellbinding love story of two women separated by a century but united in their determination to fight for what they love most Jojo Moyes’s bestseller, Me Before You, catapulted her to wide critical acclaim and has struck a chord with readers everywhere. “Hopelessly and hopefully romantic” (Chicago Tribune), Moyes returns with another irresistible heartbreaker that asks, “Whatever happened to the girl you left behind?” France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again. Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test. Like Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress and Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key,The Girl You Left Behind is a breathtaking story of love, loss, and sacrifice told with Moyes’s signature ability to capture our hearts with every turn of the page. * * * Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30 she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992 She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University, and apart from 1994 when she worked in Hong Kong for the Sunday Morning Post, she worked at The Independent for ten years, including stints as Assistant news editor and Arts and Media Correspondent. She has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. She lives on a farm in Essex with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children. * * *