Acquired Book By:I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Beautiful American” virtual book tour through HFVBT: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Jeanne Mackin, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I felt I might fancy this novel:
I have a personal penchant for what I refer to as ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’ wherein the historical persons who lived are aptly portrayed through a historical treatment of their lives by a novelist who has a flaire for bringing their lives so fully to life, we feel as though we’ve met them in person. You’ll find that I have read quite a hearty array of historicals which befit this category and am always quite in full search of new writers who can lead me back through the corridors of the past and introduce me to someone who will bring history alive to me in all it’s glory and heartache. As for each life told, there is a happy balance of joy and strife, such is a well-rounded life well lived and told thereafter the person has passed on.
I personally find joy in this section of historical stories because the past becomes fiercely alive through the voices of the authors who pen these kinds of stories. We get to take an up close and personal voyage back through the tides of time whilst being caught up in the livelihood of a person who truly lived and felt every inch of the emotions we hope to catch sight of in the novel.
Note on the Cover Art: Did anyone else notice the sepia tone of hue on the cover when Lee Miller is being highlighted and how Paris in the background is a more muted reverie? I felt this was a fitting touch to the novel, especially as you become further into her folds, this novel doesn’t quite want to let you go – it stays with you, and you realise things you hadn’t seen at first glaance.
As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals, and break years of silence?
A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional woman.
Jeanne Mackin’s novel, The Beautiful American (New American Library), based on the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, received the 2014 CNY award for fiction. Her other novels include A Lady of Good Family, about gilded age personality Beatrix Farrand, The Sweet By and By, about nineteenth century spiritualist Maggie Fox, Dreams of Empire set in Napoleonic Egypt, The Queen’s War, about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and The Frenchwoman, set in revolutionary France and the Pennsylvania wilderness.
Jeanne Mackin is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Book of Love (W.W. Norton.) She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and a keynote speaker for The Dickens Fellowship. Her work in journalism won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and at Goddard College in Vermont.
One of my true joys in life is keeping an eye on fashion – both the stylish trends of the industry itself and the full history of where style took residence in people’s lives simply by creating their own take on what they felt would work best with their bodies and spirits. I love watching Turner Classic Movies for this one reason (even though I typically lament it’s the solid story-telling and the emotional connections you get to the characters!), as a beautiful arc backwards into how fashion and the clothes people wore not only defined who they were as individuals but how clothes defined entire generations.
When I set down to write the questions for this interview, I kept it in mind to ask pertinent questions about the industry at large but also, to take the conversation to a personal side of reflection and insight that my readers would welcome seeing by today’s guest Marilyn R. Wilson who has started to write a serial collection of stories garnished out of her experiences and interviews with the people who have inspired her the most.
Real Stories about Real People to Entertain, Inspire and Challenge You.
Get inspired to step out of your box and into a world full of potential. From the corporate world, to the arts, to working with the disenfranchised – the message is clear. There is no such thing as a normal way to live your life and no one right solution to any problem. Selected from amongst over 100 interviews, the stories shared here open a window on the journeys of seven women and three men who have charted their own path, including Ruthie Davis – top U.S. luxury shoe designer and the winner of the 2014 AAFA Footwear Designer of the Year award – and Geir Ness whose perfume is a staple in Nordstrom, Disney World and on Disney Cruise Lines. Enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes into the unique ways these individuals chose to deal with life’s challenges and how they define success in their careers.
I can directly relate to ‘owning your own truth’ as far as your artistic light shining out of your soul via your choices in fashion. Clothes are intricately attached to the artistic fire of our spirit because clothes help define our spirit in an outward method of communicating a piece of who we are on the inside. I love how you previously conveyed in an interview (via Vancouver Fashion Week) about ‘defining your story in clothes’ as clothes can paint a story in a way words cannot. What do you hope your clothes are saying if if you were write a synopsis for their story?
Wilson responds: I think this one of the most interesting questions I’ve ever been asked. My hope is that my clothing would define my story as unique and that my decision to wear things that I loved regardless of what was dictated as currently “IN” by the fashion world would be an example of how I embrace life and success in a way that is meaningful to me alone. As my favorite garments are ones with their own story – I know or have interviewed the designer, the concept was truly inspiring, etc. – I hope they would also share how I choose to live my life the same way, by drawing in experiences that support my decision to embrace a life and definition of success that makes my heart sing. Read More
Acquired Book By: I was approached by iRead Book Tours to host a non-fiction title “Life Outside the Box” and during their query I decided to start hosting regularly with iRead Book Tours and their companion hosting company Italy Book Tours as a direct result of how welcoming they are to book bloggers. I received a complimentary copy of “Life Outside the Box” direct from the publisher Influence Publishing Inc. in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
My curiosity was piqued:
I instantly *loved!* the premise of “Life Outside the Box” as it is a theme I can directly relate too inasmuch as I was keenly interested in reading the book! The main thread of the context that leapt out to me in such a stimulating way is the fact that ordinary people took a route in their lives that led them to achieve the extraordinary — little deviant paths towards choosing the creative avenue over the more traditional passageway has fascinated me for awhile, being a creative myself. Each of us who elects to create something out of nothing is by definition an artist. To find a collection of stories based off the interviews conducted in person by the writer who collected these stories together felt like a wicked good read to me!
It isn’t often you get to dig inside a person’s mind to understand how they went from here to there in their creative endeavours — to understand the mind of a creative economist from the inside out and thus, find threads of commonality as much as inspiration out of their journey! These are the types of real-life stories I love warming up too because they give such a well of insight into our shared and oft-times collaborative journey as we walk with a breath of creative light inside our footpaths!
Real Stories about Real People to Entertain, Inspire and Challenge You.
Get inspired to step out of your box and into a world full of potential. From the corporate world, to the arts, to working with the disenfranchised – the message is clear. There is no such thing as a normal way to live your life and no one right solution to any problem. Selected from amongst over 100 interviews, the stories shared here open a window on the journeys of seven women and three men who have charted their own path, including Ruthie Davis – top U.S. luxury shoe designer and the winner of the 2014 AAFA Footwear Designer of the Year award – and Geir Ness whose perfume is a staple in Nordstrom, Disney World and on Disney Cruise Lines. Enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes into the unique ways these individuals chose to deal with life's challenges and how they define success in their careers.
Marilyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for interviewing. It all began in 2006 when she answered a Craigslist ad from a NY magazine asking for story submissions. Two were accepted. The first live interview was life changing and Wilson has never looked back. With over 150 interviews now behind her, the love of interviewing is still as strong as ever. Whether through a random encounter on the New York subway or via a “one-on-one” interview with an internationally recognized artist, the goal is the same—to share the unique journeys of inspiring individuals.
In 2007, this goal led the author to co-launch a successful, innovative magazine focused on professionals working in the fashion industry, paired with photography and illustrations by local artists. Now on staff at Raine Magazine (NY/Miami/LA), as well as freelancing for other publications, Wilson has taken her passion to a new audience with the release of her first book.
Acquired Book By: Winning a contest adverted through “Shelf Awareness for Readers” bi-weekly newsletter, April 2015. I received the hardcover book direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Griffin via St. Martin’s Press without obligation to post a review. The timing of the book’s arrival happily coincided with the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours route for this novel in the book blogosphere, as I originally had wanted to participate in one of the two blog tours I knew about for this particular release, however, from my understanding only ebooks were available for review. Therefore, upon receipt of the book itself from the publisher, I contacted HFVBTs and requested to be placed on the last stop for the blog tour itself: Friday, the 17th of April.
Unfortunately, the timing ended up being a difficult one for me, as I was blogging about the stress and illness I was under last week on my reviews (both for ‘Inspector of the Dead‘ and ‘The Masque of a Murderer‘; the latter of which ended up posting on Friday in lieu of this one as I fell behind). I technically only had the novel a few short days ahead of Friday, but at that time I felt I could make the quick deadline. Instead, my reflections are posting the Monday after the tour ended. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts herein.
Intrigued to Read:
Much to my chagrin, the reason I am curiously receptive to historical novels surrounding parfum is due to my encounter with the writings of M.J. Rose; specifically the book showcases I wrote on behalf of The Collector of Dying Breaths and The Witch of Painted Sorrows. I fully immersed myself into the Reincarnationist series prior to settling inside Dying Breaths, as I wanted to understand the world and the back-story of the lead protagonist. Following through to Painted Sorrows, I found myself with a beautiful arc of continuity where fragrance played an under-note of connection to this new release on behalf of Rose. Shortly thereafter, I had the pleasure of reading a Historical Biographical Fiction novel on behalf of Coco Chanel by Gortner; of whom I had the pleasure of reading previously through The Tudor Vendetta. It was during my ruminations on behalf of Coco Chanel I revealed my connection to The Shell Seekers which had given me my first connection to parfum and the intoxicating connections of scent in fiction.
Throughout my readings, one singular thread of context remains and that is the allure of scent and fragrance has sensory triggers that alight through the heart first and the mind second. It is through our memories and the ‘scents therein’ we attach to memory in it’s rawest of forms that allows us to transcend through time and go backwards to a singular moment which stands out to us. It is this pursuit of reading how writers can inflict and inflect resonance with their audience with a particular scent or the allure of a passionate attachment to a particular smell that draws me into their story-lines.
The fact Moran used the basis of her novel on memories of her mother added to my curiosity to pick up her novel, inasmuch as having read her author newsletters for a good portion of the past year. She happily keeps her readers informed of her stories whilst revealing just enough to whet a thirst of interest if you haven’t yet read a novel she’s published. For me, the short notes and the synopsis of Scent of Triumph implored me forward to finding a way into her re-released debut novel. As this was originally published by Crescent House Publishing | Briarcliffe Press in 2012. Read a bit about her Indie Press to Major Trade journey on her blog.
Coincidently, to my own recollection Ms Moran is one of the ‘writers who found me’ via Twitter, thus I started to follow in-kind and signed up for her author’s newsletter. This is one reason I curate a list on Twitter for writers who find me as I keep a list of the authors and stories which alight quite serendipitously across my ‘twitterverse journey’ for the day in which I can properly become introduced to their stories. This is another example of how finding each other on Twitter can be a wicked sweet discovery for both writers and readers alike and I encourage you, if your following me on Twitter, tweet me and/or convo me on my blog — you never know when I might be inspired to read your novel!
As an aside, as I have the hours to do this, I am uploading a list of books to a special list on Riffle solely dictated by the writers who found me and the stories they’ve written which ignite a reason of interest for me to read them. I am not sure why some writers find me and then disappear or if I add them to my Twitter list why they stop following me, but once an interest is sparked, trust me, I stay curious. I presume it’s because I do not ‘auto-follow’ back as I like to get to know the writer (or book blogger, reader, etc) following me before I follow them myself. I like to understand their writing style and the stories they publish, as much as I read their feeds to ascertain a bit about them as a person. Word to wise: if you find a book blogger, tweet them a ‘hallo’ and start a random convo interdependent from your novel. Conversations are golden!
After all, if Ms Moran hadn’t found me, how would I have known about Scent of Triumph?
Yes, I would have found it via Shelf Awareness, but would I already be committed to reading it?
More incredible is I truly believe I was meant to read all of these novels in succession of each other: The Shell Seekers, A Fall of Marigolds, the Reincarnationist series, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, and Coco Chanel in order to fully appreciate what I would find inside Scent of Triumph. There is something to be said for reading intuitively and reading the stories we recognise are meant to enter our lives at the time in which they are meant to come alive in our imaginations.
When French perfumer Danielle Bretancourt steps aboard a luxury ocean liner, leaving her son behind in Poland with his grandmother, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. The year is 1939, and the declaration of war on the European continent soon threatens her beloved family, scattered across many countries. Traveling through London and Paris into occupied Poland, Danielle searches desperately for her the remains of her family, relying on the strength and support of Jonathan Newell-Grey, a young captain. Finally, she is forced to gather the fragments of her impoverished family and flee to America. There she vows to begin life anew, in 1940s Los Angeles.
Through determination and talent, she rises high from meager jobs in her quest for success as a perfumer and fashion designer to Hollywood elite. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, Scent of Triumph is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.