Blog Book Tour | “Escapement” by Kristen Wolf

Posted Thursday, 13 September, 2018 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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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 “Escapement” direct from the author Kristen Wolf in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was inspired to read Escapement:

It goes without saying, I love reading a diversely original ensemble of stories – I’ve made it rather plain these past five years I’ve been blogging how keen I am to soak into different genres & literary stylings as much as the fact I love regularly reading stories between traditionally published authors & the Indie side of the ledger as I personally have an Indie mindset myself. Likewise, I also appreciate reading LGBTQ+ literature and stories which breakaway from the regular offerings to give us something new to experience – whether it is a new timescape or a bent of genre(s). I love the eclectic nature of my reading life which constantly challenges me, re-defines the ways in which I interpret the world & enlarges my joy of being open to where the stories lead me to travel.

Each story is a capsule of a time – thereby, I am time travelling everytime I step within the pages of a novel or a story – if the length is shorter than the standard novel. Being a traditional reader of both print & audiobooks has given me new horizons to seek out – which is one reason I am looking forward to hearing more of this audiobook narrated by a full cast as the sampler gave only a small clue towards the larger experience! I love samplers for that reason, but to often you feel like your itching to hear the story in full!

What attracted me though to wanting to read this particular story is how it was set to unfold – there was something about the characters & their struggles which resonated with me. Plus, it was set against the background of the musical world – a world which has played a keenly important role in my life as life without music is not a life I wish to contemplate! I have had an ear for music since I was quite young – moving through different styles & performances each year which saw me transitioning through the decades of music as much as generations. By curating an eclectic nature of how I heard music & the various styles therein (including the Indie Music scene!) – I came to appreciate the wide interpretation of how music & the art of music can transport all of us someplace ‘new’ & wondrous.

I have read a few Musical Fiction stories in the past – finding myself drawn into how each writer contemplates the thematic of fusing music into the folds of their narrative and being thankful for the experiences I’ve been granted therein. When it came to ‘Escapement’ – I simply wanted to take the journey and see where it took me.

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Blog Book Tour | “Escapement” by Kristen WolfEscapement
by Kristen Wolf
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

***WINNER of the 2018 IndieReader DISCOVERY AWARD***

Henri keeps many secrets. Some even from herself…

Prepare to be transported into a sensual world of possibility by this lush, heart-wrenching and gorgeously-written tale. Brimming with passion, intrigue, extraordinary characters and breathtaking surprises, ESCAPEMENT will arouse the senses and seduce readers of every persuasion.

Cristofer’s star is poised to rise. Everyone expects the dashing and gifted composer to soar to the heights of musical genius—an expectation that terrifies the young artist as much as it drives him.

Walking into the fire with Cristofer is his housekeeper, Henri, a passionate and handsome young woman who takes pleasure in dressing as a man. Tending to her employer’s domestic needs, Henri has crafted a carefree life of routine behind which she hides the truth of a tragic past. Possessed herself of an extraordinary talent, she covertly guides her employer through the trials of his artistic and romantic pursuits while carefully guarding his most closely-held secret.

But Henri’s deceptively simple life is ripped apart when a wealthy and ruthless patron grants Cristofer a spectacular commission, then unwittingly hires Henri—whom he believes to be male—to give piano lessons to his alluring wife.

The resulting entanglements rise to a dangerous pitch as Cristofer struggles to create music of epic proportions while Henri is ignited by a love more powerful than any she has ever known. But when the monstrously ambitious patron catches wind of a duplicity, he and his henchmen mobilize quickly to target the threat and soon the only hope for either friend’s survival depends on one publicly exposing the other’s hidden truth—an act that would defy the bonds of love and loyalty and bring all their lives crashing down.

Can Henri stop the oncoming tragedy and still hold onto her greatest love? Or must she lose everything?

Genres: Classical Music, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA Fiction, Women's Fiction

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ISBN: 9780999610305

Also by this author: Escapement (Author Interview)

Published by Pixeltry

on 1st August, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 534

 Published By: Pixeltry

Converse via: #Escapement, #LGBTQ & #HistFic or #HistNov
Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

About Kristen Wolf

Kristen Wolf

KRISTEN WOLF is an award-winning author, creative and wondernaut living in the Rocky Mountains. Her debut novel, THE WAY, was hailed by O, The OPRAH Magazine as “A Title to Pick Up Now!” Her second novel, ESCAPEMENT, is a *WINNER – 2018 IndieReader Discovery Award* and received this praise: “Wolf is a masterful storyteller who has created an enchanting novel… It will resonate with anyone who has ever felt passion.” —IndieReader

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My Review of escapement:

In the Prologue of Escapement we are given the horrors of seeing a piano dismembered in such the same way of feeling the grief when a vintage typewriter is carelessly tossed aside, discarded or otherwise ‘unloved’. With the one exception of when industrial artists find a new way to breathe life back into a typewriter which as reached past its point of being ‘saved’ by the hands of fixers who understand her mechanics – then, and only then, do I think the typewriter itself feels birthed into a newly established version of itself where it breaks free of its confined existence and becomes something more than it could have originally been.

The somberness and the eloquence of an artist in transition of the final chapter of his life – where one door is closing, the next is already open for his acceptance – is one of the most humbling openings of a novel I’ve read in quite a long time. It bespoke of the quiet solitude of appreciation someone who is at a level above the rest of his field – creating not just for the sake of leaving behind the legacy of his work but for a higher purpose where even his own talent merged with something rather extraordinary throughout his lifetime. The dedication it takes to fuell your creativity for the longevity of a career which spans more decades than most artist are given – is such a crucial way of being introduced to the legacy and the admiration of the title character within Escapement – or rather, the one character who influenced the truer lead character, Henri.

For without Cristofer, there would not be a Henri as we know them. Entreating into Henri’s life at a point where Cristofer is exiting is is an interesting segue to retreat backwards into their hours together – to move backwards to understand the forward motion of where they are now. Interesting as I hadn’t expected this to flashback as much as I thought we were going to be inserted somewhere on their path where their lives were already in-progress, as that was the first impression I had when I read about the novel prior to opening its pages.

Of all the musical stories I’ve read, this one by far has encroached an honesty out of how to write about music moreso than show how music is produced. Meaning, Wolf uses descriptive clues towards what music can evoke out of the audience who hears the pieces being played rather than trying to complicate the context of her novel by trying to articulate this in a series of terms and suggestions you truly have to be a musician to understand. Her words are more approachable because they carry with them the emotional awareness of what resonates with each of us when we are within the trance of a musical score. Of what we are thinking or not thinking about when the music begins and how a piece makes us feel after it has stopped. In this, her poetry is guiding us through our own memories and of our own attachments to why music is as personally connecting as it is for each of us who embraces its artistry.

There are more than one mask on display in the beginning of the story – as Henri is not yet embracing being ‘Henri’ and Cristofer is ill-attempting to blend into the crowd who commands his performance when internally he is at odds with himself. He refers instead to a composition of Henri’s crafting – dissolving inside the chords to see where they can evoke him forward – shifting as he does away from his own ‘voice’ and becoming a different variant of himself in a singular moment of not feeling his own way forward through the music.

As Cristofer was insisting in pursuing his muse and the instrument of his choice to re-fuell his passion – Henri was stirring a pot of mixed emotions. Henri could not help but flashback to what had inspired the choice(s) in the piece Cristofer was playing – nor the complications those hidden and secreted truths would reveal. It was a rather tragic love story – built out of lust for the moment of attraction but also, the individual need to find someone else who understood them in such a way as to complete them for the hours they shared together. The only drawback though is how reckless this made Henri – for the music suffered and to be true, nothing else existed but the romance and the relationship. Everything else was sacrificed or put on hold; thus developing an unhealthy imbalance between the curation of Henri’s art and the bold choices of choosing a partner over a professional endeavour.

Henri is motivated by her passionate convictions and appreciations – she has a fondness for feeling embraced by the enlightenment of revered grace and the stilled joy of observing what she considers to be perfected beauty. She is captured by the internal beauty of women which shines out of them and re-purports itself through their exterior shine. She has a way of stilling inside her being – of being caught in the moment of awe she recognises someone who has caught her speechless and yet, she can’t help herself but appreciate what she sees even if she is not immediately able to act on she feels or sees. In essence, Henri sees the physical features of a woman like an artist sees the subject he paints and presents on canvas – she is in rapt awe and deep contemplation of how a woman can possess what she does to leave her mesmorised.

Whilst out collecting thoughts as mysteriously as birdsong, Henri stumbled across a rather curious bloke who was in the process of discovering a way to capture sound – it was a rudimentary experiment of how to ‘record’ sound but without the end results we understand today. In theory, this person knew how to ‘capture’ the sound itself but then, how does one ‘play’ what is captured? It was interesting observing this scene as it bespeaks to the author’s blog – where the wonderment of Science and the art of Discovery walk hand in hand – thereby, it was not entirely impossible to contemplate a reverse of technology being causally observed by Henri.

Tucking closer into how Cristofer develops his compositions we see an aching in Henri to pursue her own inclinations – of how to take a melody of nature and see if it can become redefined into an original composition or expounded upon in such a way the sound itself expands and reflects the emotional bits first expressed by the bird and re-felt by Henri. It is curious how each of them were creatively passionate but they were not on equal footing – where Henri was more aide to Cristofer’s muse, a guiding presence to his determined genius – Crisofer did not seem to understand how or when to yield to Henri’s own stirrings of creative outlay. As we note, Henri has to suppress her own instincts for creating to give Crisofer his own licence to explore the creations he anxiously hopes will not disappear from his soul before he is willing to ‘let them go’.

The soulfulness and ache of a talented artist in her own right, Clara Thorne was not yet prepared to jettison herself out from under the expectations of her peerage to embrace her wanton desires to create her own compositions. Yet, within her held the innate knack for transfusing out the truer personalities of who is composing the compositions by Cristofer – of seeing past what is heard and written and tapping into that well of creative spirit which both humbles Henri and shocks her to her core – for how closely she guards her privacy. Not that Clara had sought to out her in any situation but when it comes to compositions and music, Henri has left her soul bare and accessible to those who intone a portion of her legacies within the spirited homages she leaves safeguarded and hidden within Cristofer’s canon.

There is a definitive order of class and expectations – of knowing one’s place but also, knowing the dangers of misstepping oneself betwixt the rules of convention. Henri was in search of herself – her truer self – not just the one she presented or the one she felt she embraced the most. She was casting herself a role she was not entirely comfortable in performance because to her, what she truly wanted was the freedom of being seen as she wished to be known rather than the masked representation she regularly gave to the world. Only one person – someone you wouldn’t have suspected could see so clearly into Henri’s soul was able to lift the veil of self-doubt and the hopelessness of living inside a vacuum of emotional anguish. Henri was a complex character – she hid her truer emotions and worked against her own mental wellness as a result. Only in nearly randomly sought out moments, did she allow herself to come alive, to reveal the layers within herself and to step forward a bit lighter for the effort of not masking her every thought and emotional response.

I was not fully prepared for how dire the circumstances became for Henri, as you get caught inside the life she’s living rather than worrying over the potential harm which can befall her person. Those moments she spent with the seer and the care in which the woman granted Henri, was nothing short of a living miracle in of itself as it enabled Henri to constantly re-assess herself and of the choices she’s made in her life. She was dedicated in her role as Cristofer’s caregiver and guider of musical intonations but when it came to finding her own strengths as a person – she faltered and yielded against the tides of her own anguished memories to such a state of fixation, she had trouble moving past the self-inflicted recriminations.

Counter to Henri and Cristofer’s story-lines, we see what can become of the fine line between artistry and a spiralling of a person’s descent into mental illness. Of where art becomes obsession to where the obsessed mind cannot draw breath away from one’s art and where the consummation of the art in which the artist is meant to create becomes their very undoing. It is here were Wolf side-steps a bit from her metaphoric and symbolistic story-telling to offer crucial insight into what befalls the artist who does not take special care of themselves. The acts of self-harm are rather alarmingly crystalised against the knowing truth of how this person could have gained assistance and aide if only they could have gained assistance from outside their circle. Or rather, even, how the family of a person who is suffering dearly is too ashamed to seek the help they need to restore their health until such a time arises where if they remain obtuse about how they approach these crises they shall lose more than they can bear.

Ava is the unsuspecting talent Henri had never expected to meet – a woman whose craft for musical aptitude far surpassed the height of expectations Henri had internalised prior to hearing her play. Ava in her own right is set apart from her husband – not just due to gender and the status of where a wife’s role is within a marriage but her curious nature for understanding the complexities and subtleties of how to evoke the tone she seeks out of the chords she’s drawing breath out of as she plays is a class act. She is in effect, a woman of her own choosing and placed in a special tier of her own for breaking free of what is expected and honouring the talent she has within herself.

Escapement seeks to unravel the moments where each of Wolf’s characters has chosen a route of escape from their lives. The reasons vary, the convictions of their choices heightened by the  prose of Wolf’s and therein lies the heart of where Escapement seeks to carry its readers. As escapement can be birthed out of an essential yearning of owning one’s heart and soul – to live in a celebrated freedom of being outside the confines of how they feel subjected of being ‘less than themselves’ within the cast of perception their currently living. Each of the characters has a hidden secret – some are readily observed, others must be drawn out gradually whereas others are merely hinted at being suggested rather than outed directly.

At the heart of the story is a tragedy – a sorrowful song about the mechanism of one’s heart and the truer nature of the soul, in earnest pursuit of owning its freedom. You get a bit lost inside the story as it plays out – almost as if you were in the audience of a play, where as the curtain draws closer to the consuming last phrases of spoken dialogue and shared agony of anguished loss – the closer you feel you’ve reached the point where the musical score etching itself out of the spaces between the dialogue is what painted the ending a finer point of clarity towards seeing how Escapement arched itself into an opera of love, destiny and passionate artistry.

on the writing style of kristen wolf:

I truly love discovering unique voices in fiction and Kristen Wolf is my latest novelist [of discovery] who has found a lovely way of lyrically writing a story during the Romantic era in history. Evocative of the musical artists [of this generation] her story [focuses on] who breathed their soul into their music whereas her heart is seen in the poetic nature of her narrative prose. It has a rhythm of its own making – a uniqueness which allows you glimpses into a person’s personality with each short sentence she creates which in of itself says more than the length it was given on the page. She has found that curious way of imparting a heap of information within the shortness of text where similar to poetry, the words and the paragraphs their contained inside feel larger than their presence.

As I had reflected in my conversation with Ms Wolf: It is through this artful complexity and the imbalances vs co-balances of their lives which intersected to tell such a compellingly poetic story. In direct relation to the unique connection between Henri and Cristofer and how they in effect affected each other throughout the duration of our time spent in their company.

I also stated: I was always in awe of the pianoforte for how much depth was contained within its range – the emotionalism of its evocations and the ways in which the sound emitting out of it was universally able to be felt. An achievement in its own right and yet, it has become a timeless reminder of how powerfully stirring music can be because of the emotional and soulfulness of how music ‘connects and interconnects’ to us on a different level of understanding. Music breaks through where words and language cannot.

Yet, it is how Wolf implied and explored this throughout her narrative which brokers a larger discussion about how close a writer can become to her subject and how with a stilling of our imagination – we can fuell our writing to etch out a truthfulness we might not observe ourselves at the time of creating the story but can step back after it concludes and see more than what we felt at the time we first wrote down the words.

Wolf also mastered the art of Musical Fiction – of having the music itself stand independent of the characters and as such, it became its own unique presence within the context of the story: Yes, exactly this – in other narratives – the musical elements are background fodder or they are elemental inclusions to where they are not entirely their ‘own’ character but rather inserted to add layers to the characters being established. A tool of expression or of understanding for the artist who uses music as their palette but to have music feel alive and transparently immersed into the contextual flow of the narrative itself as it ebbs and flows through the lives of the characters – that is a beauty of its own kind.

A note on Equality in Lit:

Wolf very early-on discloses how Henri prefers to dress and present herself as a man – self-stating being androgynous. In step with how Henri presents to the world, she also has as sensual side – a self-knowledge of what affects her heart and what entices her towards certain partners vs others. She feels deeply and falls hard for those she takes as lovers, but the women in return do not always entirely understand Henri nor of her own passion for music nor why she stays within the throes of Cristofer’s work to curate a sound and an evocation of thought out of the keys and chords they labour over selflessly if only to find the one piece which would make all the effort exalted worthwhile.

I previously disclosed a fuller insight into Henri: Wolf approached introducing Henri in such a lovely way of innocence – of how she was tucked inside her own heart and mindfulness of what she was seeing, sensing and experiencing but with an innocence still attached. She was at first as you say ‘bewildered’ by her thoughts and her reactions but she came to understand herself and it is through taking the journey within the novel we not only see Henri as she sees herself and of how she wants others to see her from the outside looking in but we see the fuller scope of why the story was told. You have lovely layers inside this novel and I love layered stories for this particular reason – the more you glimpse inside those portions of a story, the more you see the soul of the writer and a reflection of humanity.

This was partially an attempt to disclose how Henri evolves through the story-line – of how she reacts and recoils from what she feels/senses/explores through her understanding of lust and love; of relationships and of the need to find someone to fulfill her in aways music cannot. It also was an early clue towards how Wolf took us through Henri’s transformation – of how we first met her to how she looked back herself on her experiences under the tutelage of Cristofer and saw her own advancements in understanding ‘who’ Henri is and why certain aspects of her life (esp her sexuality) were some of the more challenging chapters of her life to understand.

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It ought to be known, when I read the musical selections which inspired this novel, I decided to play Brahms, Chopin & Schumann via Spotify whilst I composed my ruminative thoughts on my blog & whilst I read the novel. I was already familiar with Brahms & Chopin as I listened to a lot of Classical Music growing up whilst I also had the joy of attending symphonies and concerts. In fact, prior to selecting popular music as my favourites to spin, the Classical composers & the composers behind the sound for motion picture were the artists I loved the most to ‘hear’.

The added benefit of course is drawing a fuller step closer to experiencing the story as it was meant to unfold in direct connection to the overlays of musical score as revealled during my conversation with the author. This is something which can be overheard apparently on the audiobook – as care was taken to insert a particularly pivotal piece into the audiobook, thereby grounding the reader and listener in the truer soul of the story in a way which can be understood on a deeper layer than strictly through the contemplation of the words themselves.

You can hear the emotions and the angst, the heights and the valleys of everything Wolf put into her story if you focus on the Classical artists; each in tandem with one another as you move through the novel. You start to ‘hear’ insights into Cristofer and Henri – you start to see clues about how Wolf approached adding the dimensional layers to the background whilst giving you a fuller presentation of where this story can lead you within your own contemplations.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

Follow the Virtual Road Map by visiting the blog tour route:

I hosted an interview for this lovely tour, as well!

Escapement blog tour via HFVBTs
 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge badge created by Jorie in Canva.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Escapement”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Kristen Wolf, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, 2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

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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 Thursday, 13 September, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 19th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Cats and Kittens, Classical Music | Composers, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Genre-bender, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Music History, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Romantic era, Self-Harm Practices

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