Blog Book Tour | “Marion Hatley” by Beth Castrodale

Posted Saturday, 15 July, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “Marion Hatley” direct from the author Beth Castrodale in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I felt this was a story I wanted to read:

I love the premise behind ‘The Ladies Paradise’ and have been wanting to start reading it in order to watch the mini-series. Therefore, as I read about the lead character is ‘Marion Hatley’ being of a like-minded character from that book, I was smitten!

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Blog Book Tour | “Marion Hatley” by Beth CastrodaleMarion Hatley
by Beth Castrodale
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

To escape a big-city scandal, a Depression-era lingerie seamstress flees to the countryside, where she hopes to live and work in peace. Instead, she finds herself unraveling uncomfortable secrets about herself and those closest to her.

In February of 1931, Marion Hatley steps off a train and into the small town of Cooper’s Ford, hoping she’s left her big-city problems behind. She plans to trade the bustling hubbub of a Pittsburgh lingerie shop for the orderly life of a village schoolteacher. More significantly, she believes she’ll be trading her reputation-tainting affair with a married man for the dutiful quiet of tending to her sick aunt. Underpinning her hopes for Cooper’s Ford is Marion’s dream of bringing the daily, private trials of all corset-wearing women—especially working women—to an end, and a beautiful one at that.

Instead, she confronts new challenges: a mysteriously troubled student; frustrations in attempts to create a truly comfortable corset; and, most daunting, her ailing aunt. Once a virtual stranger to Marion, her aunt holds the key to old secrets whose revelation could change the way Marion sees her family and herself.

As her problems from Pittsburgh threaten to resurface in Cooper’s Ford, Marion finds herself racing against time to learn the truth behind these secrets and to get to the bottom of her student’s troubles. Meanwhile, Marion forms a bond with a local war veteran. But her past, and his, may be too much to sustain a second chance at happiness.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

ISBN: 9781940782027

Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction


Published by Garland Press

on 20th April, 2017

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 277

Published By: Garland Press | Facebook
Available Formats: Paperback & E-Book (Audiobook *forthcoming!)

Converse via: #HistFic

About Beth Castrodale

Beth Castrodale

Beth Castrodale started out as a newspaper reporter and editor, then transitioned to book publishing, serving for many years as an editor for an academic press. She has completed three novels: Marion Hatley, a finalist for a 2014 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel from Southeast Missouri State University Press (to be published in April 2017 by Garland Press); Gold River; and In This Ground, an excerpt of which was a shortlist finalist for a 2014 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Award. Beth recommends literary fiction on her website SmallPressPicks.com, and she has published stories in Printer’s Devil Review, The Writing Disorder, Marathon Literary Review, and Mulberry Fork Review. She lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

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Meeting marion hatley:

Laughs. I love meeting wickedly independent women in fiction and Marion Hatley is surely her own woman! She’s unconventional (she was caught in the arms of a married man), resourceful (she took up her cousin’s plea of securing two new jobs) and unashamed of how her life’s affairs play out – as one thing which remains true of her, she has spunk, tenacity and a willing heart to follow where her path shall lead! We find her on a train – bound for small towne Americana – where a new life awaits her in caring for her Aunt Elsie and being a fill-in teacher at a school where married is equal to the plague – it’s a career killer.

What makes you find her so very remarkable however, is how intuitive she is to a woman’s plight – specifically in regards to the condition of her physical well-being – as during her living age, corsets ruled the roost as far as under-clothes were concerned and therein, you find a bit of folly! As I still remember visiting Upstate NY coming across more than one corset shoppe and learning a few things about the history of corsets from various locals who loved to spin yarns about the ‘earlier’ days where corset shoppes and makers were attempting to keep up with demand! Marion has a critical eye in sensing and observing what is going-on in a woman’s mind especially in consideration with her clothes. It’s a tool of her trade and one she practically inherited as the women in her family had a way with design and fashion.

My review of marion hatley:

As we become acquainted with Marion Hatley, we find out first-hand how difficult it is to re-align your life and re-identify yourself in a place which doesn’t necessarily accept you as you present yourself. Marion has a flash and glam style about her, where she prefers the posh eloquence of the film stars and the dazzling shades of cosmetics both on face and nails. She isn’t used to being down-played as a ‘Plain Jane’ nor does she want to give the wrong impression to her mother’s sister (now her charge; as a caregiver) Elsie or to the students at the school where she is now promptly employed. Yet. How much of yourself (of personality and character trait) do you suppress in order to re-invent ‘who’ you are to the world?

Never one to back down from a challenge – Marion attacks being a small towne teacher with the confidence of someone who honestly felt they belonged in the schoolhouse! She had a bit of guidance from Miss Spence – the teacher removed due to her recent nuptials (if you’ve ever heard such poppycock!) but it didn’t quite prepare her for everything; as insightful as her letter was there remained a few hidden surprises nonetheless! Marion had an empathetic way of interpreting what was affecting someone (in this case, a child; in other instances, women) even if they were more closeted with their words. She could sense something was wrong even if the details were never meant to be known. It is this happenstance quirk of her personality she was able to draw out Walter, the young lad who lived on the farm where she was residing with her Aunt Elsie. The interesting bit is Marion has a good feeling about most people but there were the odd one or two she felt might deserve a wider benefit of doubt when it came down to honest facts.

One interesting bit too, is how Elsie interacted with Marion; almost as if Aunt and niece were half-strangers (of course, in many ways they surely were; each never truly knowing about the other whilst Vera, Marion’s Mum was alive); each of them stepping round subjects as if they were worried one word said out of step might be their undoing. On the other hand. Castrodale highlights the life of a caregiver quite well – as it’s the gentle touches which make the mark of a good caregiver, especially one who understands the needs of their charge. Marion has a light-hearted attitude about her – where others might balk at the duties expected of them, Marion falls back on the memories of working in ladies’ under garments as there are cross-similarities between the kosher and non-kosher instances which pop up in both fields! It’s a charming arc of wit lacing through the narrative, as Marion has a subtle version of humour within her bones – whilst Castrodale finds ways to impart depth of drama into the folds of even the smallest of scenes which seem to mean the most to her characters.

I was personally starting to enjoy seeing the letters appear – every so many chapters into the story, as they anchoured Marion to those she knew who weren’t living in Cooper Ford. Except to say, as I initially thought the novel would take-on a near-Epistolary style of the craft, at one point the letters simply stopped in appearance. They added to the continuity but also to the pacing – they gave you a unique bridge into understanding events not seen and of moments not yet fully understood. I love letters personally and to find novels which seek to strike a balance between traditional narrative and Epistolary-driven arcs is something I shall always aspire to seek out.

The flashback sequences were where we could see how time was bending and folding against the past and present; of how in-step with each other Marion and Vera truly were as mother and daughter inasmuch as how exacting Marion’s memory of everything which occurred could be remembered. In these instances, you didn’t feel as if Vera was a passing memory but rather, rebourne somehow in the flashback to live in that moment of remembrance as equally alive as her daughter Marion. As Marion wrestles with the different stages of her growth as both woman and innovator of design, you can see how she has learnt to deal with her disappointments but also the self-doubts which were stirring within her, too. She’s a complex character; always thinking and using self-reflection as a method of understanding how to shift forward and away from her past.

Yet at the same time, part of the flashbacks provided key moments she shared with Vera about how to improve corsets and to give women a better designed undergarment. If you look at those instances, it is nearly as if someone is replaying the tapes in order to tap into what they have overlooked; as Marion was left with a puzzle and a riddle about how to unravel the half attempts her mother had made towards inventing something ‘new’. Likewise, Castrodale isn’t shy about exploring harder topics involving food insecurity with the children (of which Marion continues the tradition of intervention) and the auspicious implications of what is truly affecting young Walter. I also liked the inclusion of the veteran who gave a different perspective on things as well – everything lending a different lens of insight into Marion Hatley’s evolving journey.

Marion Hatley is truly a champion for women who stick by family and whose own paths in life take a bit longer to unfold. She has staid true to herself in most aspects of her life (except perhaps in the foils of her love life) but at her heart – she has a passion for fashion and of endeavouring to keep her interests in an  industry she understands better than all others. Her mother comes across as a complex and reserved woman; one who didn’t draw out confidences in people to confide her innermost thoughts but rather someone who’d take privacy protection to a new level of endurance! I feel this was effectively one mark against Marion herself – for secrets have a way of stalling another person’s growth. It nettles things out which could have been dealt with differently and in Marion’s case, one thing you notice about her is how she moves through the motions of her living hours but without a true compass point to know which way she’s headed. As sometimes the best way to overcome one’s past is to move backwards in order to move forwards; in Marion’s case, she had to return home to her mother’s sister’s aide to better understand what the future could yield.

on the historical stylings of beth castrodale:

Ms Castrodale has a quick-step style about her historicals – Marion Hatley is so light and airy on the page – she has a strong personality but no overtly so, it’s simply you know Marion as soon as she’s inside your view because of her she presents herself. No-nonsense but also, with an insight about life in ways your not truly expecting her to depart to you – she’s owning her life’s choices but she’s mindful of the hope of second chances; to turn things round even when they feel as though they’ve shifted out of control. It’s a unique set-up really – to help out an extended part of your immediate family, re-settle outside a city you loved living and finding along the route towards your own happiness more insight into your personage than you ever felt possible – this is the joy of reading a Historical by Ms Castrodale!

One of the joys of a find such as this in Historical Fiction are the subtle nods towards the generation the characters are living inside – from the language cues to the inclusion of letters or correspondences! There was a particular letter of importance at the start of Chapter 2 wherein the former teacher is inspiring Marion towards understanding her students ahead of meeting them whilst imparting sage advice as experience has taught the previous teacher invaluable foreknowledge! These are some of my favourite reasons for tucking into Historicals; you get to see how life was lived at a different time and place of your own upbringing whilst honing in on the graces of how time doesn’t change as much as you first think and how classically a historical novel can sound fresh and vibrant even against the tides of today!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Marion Hatley blog tour via HFVBTs.As forementioned in a note I put on my blog’s homepage Friday morning, I had to amend my participation in this blog tour quite at the last minute as I had a bout of illness the week of my original tour stop (Friday, the 14th). I had mentioned how grateful I was for those who were travelling through the tour route and for being patient with me as my review would post the following day (Saturday, the 15th). My apologies to the author for the delay in giving her my reactions as I was quite excited for this novel to be read!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Marion Hatley”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Beth Castrodale and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. YouTube video was able to be embedded due to codes / links provided. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 15 July, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Fashion Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Literary Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Siblings, Small Towne USA, The Great Depression, the Thirties




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