Tag Archives | Susanna Kearsley

‘The Splendour Falls’ Releases Today

It’s no secret that we love the work of author Susanna Kearsley. A number of you feel the same way. So we we were certain that you’d want to know that her new novel, THE SPLENDOUR FALLS, releases today. As I do with all her books, I read it in one giant gulp last November. We’ve got a copy up for grabs today (see the entry form below) and there’s an opportunity for you to meet Susanna in person. She will be on tour this month in the US and will be making a stop at Foxtale Book Shoppe in Atlanta this coming Monday, January 20th. The entire She Reads team will be there to celebrate with her. We hope to see you there!

Foxtale Books Poster

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The Splendour FallsAn Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel…

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a “treasure of great price.” And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

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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 SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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Tell Me Something True: A Visit With Susanna Kearsley

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Susanna Kearsley | @SusannaKearsley

Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley

The truth is, we’re shaped by our families. Whether we love them or try to escape them, and whether they help and support us or stand in our way, they are there. In real life, people don’t operate in a vacuum—even those who have lost all their family still live with the memories. A father who’s absent can have just as great an effect as one you see each day, and our cousins and relatives living in places far distant can still have a hold on our hearts and our loyalties.

I learned early on in my writing to give all my fictional characters families, and when I’m writing of actual people from history I work hard to fill out the blanks of their own family trees as well, putting to good use the skills I’ve learned both from museum work and from a lifetime spent helping my parents trace our family history. Amateur genealogy can, at the best of times, become an enjoyable obsession, and when I apply it to real-life historical characters I find it not only helps me create a more fully-formed version of them in the novel, but also gives me added insight into their decisions and choices, shining new light on the motivation for their actions.

Trying to understand why a person went out of his way, and at risk of his life, to help someone who seems to be a total stranger becomes much less puzzling when I fill in the strands of their families and find they’re actually cousins.

And even with a minor character like Mr. Trescott, the St. Petersburg tavern owner in The Firebird, my research gave me knowledge of his family and his drive to give his sons a better life, which helped me better understand some of his actions.

Look around you. How does your family affect the things you do each day? Whether you avoid them, love them, hate them, or remember them, the truth remains: they’re there. And that’s as true for characters in every novel, too, whether they’re fictional or drawn from life. The family shapes us all.

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The FirebirdWith a simple touch, she can see an object’s past. Al who have wanted it. All who have owned it. All who have stolen it.

Nicola Marter was born with a gift so rare and dangerous, she keeps it buried deep. But when she encounters a desperate woman trying to sell a modest wooden carving she claims belonged to Russia’s Empress Catherine, Nicola knows the truth.

There is one with greater powers than Nicola’s, but he’s a man she can neither love nor lose. Together, they’ll pursue answers and perhaps untold rewards. In once-glittering St. Petersburg, the tale of The Firebird unfolds, irrevocably changing all who’ve pursued its secrets.

Beloved by readers as varied and adventurous as her novels, you will never forget spending time in  Susanna Kearsley’s world.

You can read an excerpt of THE FIREBIRD here.

Add THE FIREBIRD to your Goodreads Want-To-Read list.

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 SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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Books and Music: The Playlist for Susanna Kearsley’s FIREBIRD

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Susanna Kearsley | @SusannaKearsley

The Firebird Cropped

I’m actually late to the party when it comes to playlists. I’ve been writing novels for nearly 20 years without them, figuring that because I like to write in silence there was no real place for music in my writing process. But while writing The Firebird, I discovered that certain songs actually set my characters in motion, creating music videos within my mind that formed the basis of some scenes and added resonance to others.

Here is the actual playlist I kept on my iPod.

For the modern day story between Rob and Nicola, these four songs seemed to give voice to their feelings:

“Separate Lives ” by Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin

“What About Now ” by Daughtrey

“(You Want To) Make a Memory ” by Bon Jovi

“Somewhere Only We Know ” by Keane

And this next song, whenever I played it and closed my eyes, showed me the whole arc of Anna’s relationship with Captain Jamieson:

“You’ll Be In My Heart ” by Phil Collins (Anna & Captain Jamieson)

Edmund and Anna took up a good part of the playlist. The entire minuet scene in the Summer Garden was created while I listened to the Kenny Loggins song:

“Better Man ” by Robbie Williams

“For the First Time ” by Kenny Loggins

“When We Dance ” by Sting

“Who Wants To Live Forever ” by Queen

“No Way Out (Theme from 'Brother Bear’) ” by Phil Collins

And even though this song didn’t come out until the month after I’d finished the first draft of Firebird, the first time I heard it I downloaded it to my playlist to use for the months of rewrites and revisions, because it just seemed to so perfectly capture the way Anna felt—and the promise she made—in her final scene:

“Guardian ” by Alanis Morissette

It’s a comfort to me that, even a year after finishing the book, just listening to these songs brings the characters fully to life in my mind again.

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 SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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A Room Of Her Own: The Writing Space of Susanna Kearsley

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Susanna Kearsley  | @SusannaKearsley

If you look at the actual blueprint for our house, there’s a room marked “Dining Room “, set quite conveniently between the kitchen and the formal living room, with glass French doors and lots of light. Except it never got the chance to be a dining room. As soon as we moved in, I filled one wall with my Ikea Billy bookcases and claimed it as my writing room.

Here’s what it looked like, then:

Kearsley 1

It’s changed a bit, in the twelve years that we’ve been living here. The bookshelves, for one thing, are noticeably fuller—most of the shelves are stacked two deep, with books behind books, and I keep buying more.

Kearsley 2

My mother-in-law, a skilled seamstress, made me beautiful curtains for the window, and my parents gave me the comfortable wing chair I’d always loved best from their house. The desk in the photo got passed on to a friend, and was replaced by the antique oak table my dad always used as his desk in our various houses, when I was growing up. And we painted the walls a soft yellow that glows warmly gold when I’m writing at night.

It’s really a lovely room, and it’s a great place to write, but the truth is that most days it’s also Incredibly Messy. I try to keep up with the clutter, but when I’m at work on a book, it just Happens.

I couldn’t help but smile recently when someone tweeted the link to a Victorian-era book of etiquette by Eliza Leslie titled “Miss Leslie’s Behaviour Book “, which in a chapter on how to behave when meeting an “authoress ” warns: “If, when admitted into her study, you should find her writing-table in what appears to you like great confusion “, it’s best not to comment on the mess. “In all probability, she knows precisely where to put her hand upon every paper on the table: having in reality arranged them exactly to suit her convenience. Though their arrangement may be quite unintelligible to the uninitiated, there is no doubt method (her own method, at least) in their apparent disorder. It is not likely she may have time to put her writing table in nice-looking order every day. ”

Those words are just as true today, I think, as they were then. So in the interest of authenticity, instead of cleaning up the evidence and giving you the Better Homes and Gardens version of my writing room, I thought I’d show you what it actually looks like this morning, complete with a few days’ accumulation of coffee cups (I have a weakness for Starbucks Skinny Cinnamon Dolce lattes). It looks a bit chaotic, but I do indeed know where each paper is, and what it’s there for, as the good Miss Leslie says, and it’s decidedly my space, the room of my own where my stories take shape.

Kearsley 3

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 SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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Setting The Record Straight

Today’s post this month’s featured author, Susanna Kearsley | @Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley

The parts of history I love best are usually the bits that most historians don’t mention. Nothing fuels my own imagination more than finding some stray reference in a document that stops me in my tracks and makes me say: “I didn’t know that. ”

Many of my novels started growing from those moment of discovery. The Winter Sea, for instance, was a story that began to form the first time that I learned about a Jacobite invasion plot that came so close to working that I couldn’t understand why I had never heard of it before, or why it almost never made the history books.

And characters I came to know through researching The Winter Sea—the real-life men and women of that time—led me in turn to new discoveries, other incidents and people who don’t often get to have their stories told, and so I told them in The Firebird.

It can be very satisfying to take someone who has long been overlooked and try to set the record straight. I confess I can grow very fond of long-dead people through their letters and their journals and the glimpses of themselves they’ve left behind. I love when I can give them back their voices, and restore them to their proper place in history.

And I admit I feel a certain fondness for the Jacobites, who followed King James VII and his son, whom they and several foreign rulers recognized as Britain’s true king, James VIII, denied his rightful crown by what they viewed as a dishonest and illegal act of Parliament. These men and women risked so much and lost so much to stand for what they felt was right and just; and while the history books have often tried to paint them as a sad pathetic group of dreamers, Highlanders who came down from the hills to fight a battle they were doomed to lose, the letters and the documents I read from all sides told a very different story, showing me a movement that was not confined to Scotland but was spread across the whole of Europe, driven by a motivated group of men and women who were often just a step away from gaining what they wanted, and whose efforts kept the British government on edge and deeply occupied in keeping track of where they were and what they might be up to.

The FirebirdIn fact, one of the things that becomes most apparent when reading the correspondence flying back and forth between the British spies and spymasters is just how serious a threat a Jacobite invasion was, in their eyes. Later historians might do their best to convince us the Jacobites were weak and hopeless, but those who were working against them in 1725, when the events of The Firebird take place, weren’t inclined to dismiss them so easily.

Neither was I, when I started my research. I tried to rely on their actions and actual words, not the words of historians, to bring the Jacobites living in Flanders and Russia to life once again on the page, and to hopefully give you, as readers, a view of their world that might make you stop now and then and say, “I didn’t know that. “

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 SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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July Book Club Selection

The Firebird Cropped

We’re delighted to announce that the winner of this month’s main giveaway–all five of Susanna Kearsley’s novels–is Holly Banner. She has been notified via email. The five additional winners of The Firebird are: CHRISTINA L, CINDY BLUE, JODI ADAMS, RICA MACDONOUGH, and FELICIA S. They have been notified as well. Thanks to all who entered and don’t forget to come back soon. We have a number of giveaways lined up for the future.  

I’ll be honest. I’d never heard of Susanna Kearsley until four months ago. And the fact that I’m introducing her to you now as the author of our July book club selection is entirely the fault of Marybeth Whalen and Kimberly Brock. It all started with a trip the three of us took to Topsail, North Carolina and ended at Marybeth’s home in Charlotte. That’s where I first saw a copy of THE FIREBIRD  sitting on Marybeth’s dresser. Kim saw me staring at it. “I have a feeling you’ll like this author,” she said, tossing the book to me.

She Reads chooses THE FIREBIRD as it’s July book club selection. – click to tweet

I was hooked by the very first line: He sent his mind in search of me that morning.

So. I asked Marybeth if I could take it home and read it. And she told me NO! “Your copy is on the way,” she said, “I requested copies for both of us.”

Can I just say that was the longest week of my life? And by the time my copy of THE FIREBIRD finally arrived, I read it in three big gulps. There’s a lot to be said for anticipation. I’ve since moved on to Susanna Kearsley’s back list (thanks to the wonderful people at Sourcebooks).

So here’s what you need to know about this month’s book club pick: it combines past and present story lines, there’s a dash of magical realism, there’s romance and mystery and one of the most endearing child characters I’ve ever read. Also, this novel is 530 pages long. But by the time you turn the last pages, you’ll wish it was even longer.

My guess is that you’ll also want to read the rest of Susanna Kearsley’s work. Which is why this month’s giveaway is so darn fun. Five readers will each receive a copy of THE FIREBIRD. But one reader will receive this book  and four more of Susanna’s novels.(Again, thanks to the wonderful people at Sourcebooks)  We keep the rules around here pretty simple. Just comment on this post and you’ll be entered.

 

Susanna Kearsley Books

Win five of Susanna Kearsley’s novels from @SheReadsBookCLB and @Sourcebooks. – Click to tweet.

The FirebirdWith a simple touch, she can see an object’s past. Al who have wanted it. All who have owned it. All who have stolen it.

Nicola Marter was born with a gift so rare and dangerous, she keeps it buried deep. But when she encounters a desperate woman trying to sell a modest wooden carving she claims belonged to Russia’s Empress Catherine, Nicola knows the truth.

There is one with greater powers than Nicola’s, but he’s a man she can neither love nor lose. Together, they’ll pursue answers and perhaps untold rewards. In once-glittering St. Petersburg, the tale of The Firebird unfolds, irrevocably changing all who’ve pursued its secrets.

Beloved by readers as varied and adventurous as her novels, you will never forget spending time in  Susanna Kearsley’s world.

You can read an excerpt of THE FIREBIRD here.

Add THE FIREBIRD to your Goodreads Want-To-Read list.

Susanna KearsleyAbout the author:

After studying politics and international development at university, Susanna Kearsley worked as a museum curator before turning her hand to writing. Winner of the UK’s Catherine Cookson Fiction prize, Susanna Kearsley’s writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. Her books have been translated into several languages, selected for the Mystery Guild, condensed for Reader’s Digest, and optioned for film. Her novel,  The Winter Sea, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, as well as a finalist for both a RITA award and the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.



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 SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

read more

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