Author: Heather Webb

Blog Book Tour | “Last Christmas in Paris” (an #Epistolary novel of #WWI) by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor!

Posted Friday, 20 October, 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 ARC copy of “Last Christmas in Paris” direct from the publisher William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this #Epistolary novel captured my attention:

It will not surprise those who regularly read Jorie Loves A Story to denote the stories Jorie loves to read most these past four years have been hinged somewhere in the historical past! Of those, I tend to reside somewhere in the World War eras more readily than other eras (other timescapes I have a penchant for are the Regency, Victorian, Edwardian and Roaring Twenties) as there is always a new approach to telling a story either at war or on the home-front which resonates with my heart for Historical Fiction. When it comes to reading Ms Webb’s stories, I had the grace of finding her whilst her debut novel ‘Becoming Josephine’ was first releasing, finding a strong voice and emerging talent where I had this to say on her behalf:

Ms. Webb gives the reader a rendering of the situations and events which befit the era of the story’s origins but on the level that even a sensitive reader could walk through the scenes without blushing too severely or cringing at the imagery painted in narrative. Even though she does plainly give the raw visceral imagery its due course. She doesn’t allow it to take over completely, but allows it to fade in the background. Except for what occurs in Rose’s home of Martinique and what happens when she returns to Paris, in which the horror of the attacks are in full measure. Rather than focus solely on the horror that erupted she gave the smaller details of the aftermath which proved just as difficult if not moreso to read. Such a horrid time in history for the survivors to have lived through. She chose instead to direct the focus on Rose’s rise into the persona of Josephine who became the woman’s edificial Phoenix.

In regards to Ms Gaynor’s writings, I am only just starting to get to the point where I can focus on her writings – having picked up a copy of ‘The Girl Who Came Home’ for my thirty-fourth birthday (four years ago). It was one of three novels I came home with by authors I either knew of or dearly wanted to read next! If you visit the Cover Reveal w/ Notes I wrote on behalf of “Fall of Poppies” her links were remiss because I could not find them ahead of posting my showcase. I was meant to receive a copy to read and review but will be reading this through my local library instead.

There is a bit of a back-story about how my path crossed originally with Ms Gaynor as it goes back to #LitChat in May of 2014! Here I refer to snippets of the conversation I participated in which led me to become curious about the story I would find inside ‘The Girl Who Came Home’ and plant the seed of interest to follow Ms Gaynor’s career:

I had fully planned to host a dual-interview between Ms Webb & Ms Gaynor, however, as I had to turn my questions in rather late (within the past week or so) I am unsure if the interview will still be able to be completed at this time. I was hoping to get two perspectives on the same questions which would culminate on a lively chat about this novel and Historical Fiction. Meanwhile, I was unable to finish reading the story itself by the 13th as originally scheduled and had to push my review forward to Sunday giving me enough time to finish collecting my thoughts as I am sharing them now.

As previously mentioned last week as I reviewed ‘Dennis and Greer: A Love Story’, I have a strong passion for Epistolary Fiction – which alighted in my life quite happily when I first read ‘Letters from Skye’. Since then, I have sought out various authors and story-lines which follow either a letters & correspondence narrative or entreat through slippages in time via diaries or journals. Either way, I feel quite the zest of mirth for finding a new ‘story’ caught inside the time capsule of what is left behind through the words people write down – either to be shared or kept private for their own edification.

I hadn’t known at the time when I asked to be a part of this blog tour, I’d finally find a story written through the sequences of letters & correspondences I had first discovered in ‘Letters from Skye’! I cannot even begin to tell you how overjoyed I was at this little discovery when I first started reading the ARC! I hadn’t known when it first arrived either – as I wanted to savour reading this without doing what I usually do which is to look over a novel tip to stern – never reading out of sequence but becoming acquainted with what it contains – I sometimes read the Appendixes first, too, as those are places where Authors Notes or other such lovelies could reside or even for those of us who like a bit more information, where back-stories or research notes are presented!

I was also wicked happy for reading a new release by William Morrow – as this is one imprint I have fond memories of reviewing for off and on for the past four years! It has become one of my favourite imprints for finding convicting fiction and characters of whom give me lasting hours of joy walking beside them!

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Blog Book Tour | “Last Christmas in Paris” (an #Epistolary novel of #WWI) by Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor!Last Christmas in Paris
Subtitle: A Novel of World War I
by Hazel Gaynor, Heather Webb
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780062562685

Also by this author: Cover Reveal: Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War, Becoming Josephine, Author Interview: Heather Webb (Rodin's Lover), Rodin's Lover

Genres: Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Military Fiction, War Drama


Published by William Morrow

on 3rd October, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 368

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)

Converse via: #HistFic, #HistoricalFiction + #Epistolary

About Hazel Gaynor

Hazel Gaynor

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017.

Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

About Heather Webb

Heather Webb

HEATHER WEBB is the author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, and the anthology Fall of Poppies, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews.

RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. Last Christmas in Paris, an epistolary love story set during WWI released October 3, 2017, and The Phantom’s Apprentice, a re-imagining of the Gothic classic Phantom of the Opera from Christine Daae’s point of view releases February 6, 2018. To date, her novels have sold in ten countries. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Friday, 20 October, 2017 by jorielov in 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Diary Accountment of Life, During WWI, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Literary Fiction, Medical Fiction, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Postal Mail | Letters & Correspondence, Psychiatric Facilities, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Story in Diary-Style Format, the Nineteen Hundreds, The World Wars, Women's Fiction

Cover Reveal | “Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War” an #anthology of war dramas including three #authors I personally *love!* reading: Lauren Willig, Jessica Brockmole + Heather Webb! Including a small notation on Jorie Loves A Story’s 2nd Birthday!

Posted Thursday, 6 August, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Stories Sailing into View Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I didn’t take long to decide to join the Cover Reveal blog tour for this enticingly curious NEW RELEASE by William Morrow Spring, 2016! For starters, I have become entranced and captured by *three!* of the authors whose convicting stories etch their characters and literary worlds straight into my mind’s eye in such a convincing way as to leave heart prints of their memories inside my spirit long after I have put down their novels!

There is a aching realism to war dramas and a churning of courage intermixed with a fierce dedication to service, country, self, and family. The lives of servicemen and women as much as the civilian staff who aide them directly both at home and overseas are dedicated to keeping all of us safe in an unsafe world. Their sacrifices are passionately applauded and it is our honour to celebrate their lives of which have ensured our times of peace.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notations on the realisation some of the authors are already ‘familiar’ to me:

Being a regular book blogger for William Morrow (as I have a heart full of gratitude for the books which come up for review by HarperCollins, of whom has become one of my favourite Major Trade publishers) I was overjoyed at finding out this anthology collection of shorts (stories) not only includes a new work by Jessica Brockmore (of my beloved Letters from Skye), Lauren Willig (of whom has created a delish historical/contemporary suspense series in Pink Carnation), and the historically passionate researcher (novelist) Heather Webb (of Becoming Josephine + Rodin’s Lover) this collection  yields many #newtomeauthors of whom I would be most delighted to ‘meet’ for the first-time!

Prior to confirmation of my participation on this tour, I had the joy of finding a beautifully up-close and personal review of Marci Jefferson’s new release Enchantress of Paris via Literary, Etc. wherein I enjoyed adding to the conversation surrounding it’s story. Ms Jefferson’s previous novel Girl on the Golden Coin was a novel I had hoped to have read in 2014 and sadly was not able to get to it. I definitely hope I can find a way to borrow both copies from the library once their available!

For my thirty-fourth birthday I selected Hazel Gaynor’s The Girl Who Came Home as one of my *birthday books* of choice which was gifted to me by my Mum and Da! It remains one of the books I am most adamant of reading as soon as I have the hours to devout to it! A Memory of Violets has intrigued me as well although it is constantly being checked out at my library!

I hadn’t realised it until I visited her website, but the novels of Jennifer Robson have been garnishing my curious eye towards picking them up and seeing what I shall find inside for quite awhile now! I have either seen her in the book blogosphere or finding I can borrow her books from my local library! Wicked sweet!

I typically gravitate and devour novels of WWII, and it is a rare treat indeed when I find a novel based on WWI! I tend to be a bit particular about the kind of war dramas I prefer reading and therefore my quest to find new stories to soak my mind inside takes a bit of seeking and patience! This collection not only winked out a keen interest to read it, I felt as though the authors knew exactly what kind of war dramas I would appreciate reading in shorter form! I cannot wait for this release!

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Read a delish snippet of a preview:

Excerpt from “Hour of the Bells”
A short story included in Fall of Poppies

Reprinted Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Beatrix whisked around the showroom, feather duster in hand. Not a speck of dirt could remain or Joseph would be disappointed. The hour struck noon. A chorus of clocks whirred, their birds popping out from hiding to announce midday. Maidens twirled in their frocks with braids down their backs, woodcutters clacked their axes against pine, and the odd sawmill wheel spun in tune to the melody of a nursery rhyme. Two dozen cuckoos warbled and dinged, each crafted with loving detail by the same pair of hands—those with thick fingers and a steady grip.

Beatrix paused in her cleaning. One clock chimed to its own rhythm, apart from the others. She could turn them off—the tinkling melodies, the incessant clatter of pendulums, wheels, and cogs, with the levers located near the weights—just as their creator had done before bed each evening, but she could not bring herself to do the same. To silence their music was to silence him, her husband, Joseph. The Great War had already done that; ravaged his gentle nature, stolen his final breath, and silenced him forever. Read More

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Posted Thursday, 6 August, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Anthology Collection of Stories, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Birthdays & Blogoversaries, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogs I Regularly Read, Book | Novel Excerpt, Book Cover Reveal, During WWI, Historical Fiction, Literary Etc., Short Stories or Essays, The World Wars, War Drama

*Blog Book Tour*: Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

Posted Thursday, 2 January, 2014 by jorielov , , , 9 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

Becoming Josephine - France Book Tours

Author is a Member of: Historical Novel Society

Visit her Pin(terest) Board: Eclectically French Inspired Lovelies (my impression!)

Author Connections: Facebook | Site | Blog

Converse on Twitter: #BecomingJosephine OR Tweet @MsHeatherWebb

Published by: Plume, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 31 December 2013

Available Format: Trade Paperback | E-Book | Page Count: 320

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on “Becoming Josephine” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by France Book Tours. I received “Becoming Josephine”  in exchange for an honest review by the publisher Plume. The book released on 31st December 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I simply adore historical fiction, including historical biographical fiction, which I think this falls under, as it’s about Bonaparte and his wife! I like the backdrop of the story, and how strong Rose had to become in order to overtake her plight! You see, I have a bit of a long-standing admiration for the French Revolution, even though by many estimates I have only just begun my sojourn into this fascinating section of literature! It’s true I was first inspired to seek out more French Literature selections after having borrowed and read quite a few from my local library which fall inside Children’s Literature selections, in as much as my appreciation for seeing a select few classic motion pictures on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) involving Marie Antoinette over the past few years! My attention is thus esteemed to continue to seek out stories set before, during, and after the French Revolution! What can I say? Once you become attached to the living characters of whom most of the books are based upon, in as much as the characters created to walk amongst their living counterparts, you find that one book or five is not quite enough to fully encompass the history of what is left behind to be known!

Stemming from this short history of mine with French Literature, there was a cursory exploration of Bonaparte whilst I was eighteen! Having ducked out of a heavy rainstorm and into the warmth glow of a bookshoppe I had accidentally discovered along a main street – I took the balm of books against nature’s thunderstorm! As I wandered around, I remember finding a rather curious little book, tattered yet readable, (as the bookshoppe sold new and used copies!) about the life of Napoléon Bonaparte! Intrigued I purchased the book and stored it inside a rain-proof bookslip! Ever since that aplomb discovery I have whet my appetite for more! I would be curious to learn how you alighted to read about the French?

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Heather WebbAuthor Biography:

Heather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full-time novel-writing and freelance editing. Her début, BECOMING JOSEPHINE will release December 31, 2013 from Plume/Penguin.

 When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world. She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb) or via her blog, Between the Sheets (www.Heatherwebb.net/blog). Stop on by!

Synopsis of the Novel:

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

SEX & VIOLENCE: There is a little of each, though I didn’t go into great detail in either category.

 

Forging a path where uncertainty reigns:

When I was first introduced to Rose (later, Josephine), I was empathic towards her plight and situation straightaway, as who couldn’t sympathise with a sister mourning her sister’s sudden death? Especially if one would feel indebted to believing they were the root cause of said death? I was attempting to imagine the thoughts and emotions not only her sister’s death evoked but how that singular event shaped her for the path she was embarking to walk as she made her way towards France, towards Paris, and towards the great unknown of marriage to a man she never had met, much less knew. Although I am oft wrapped inside a ‘mail-order bride’ story, this one felt more like an ordained arranged marriage to where the outcome would befit the family moreso than the bride! Such the calamity of ages past, and yet, the realism with which the author pens the opening bits of the story give us a true glimpse of the horror Rose faced as she disembarked onto the docks!

I couldn’t help but consider Rose might not have realised just how deep she would become involved with creating a transformation which would replace her original self with the one she would soon invent!? You start to see pieces of the transformation shaping in the early chapters, as she starts to find quirks of hers are not kosher to the Parisians way of living. Little things such as her accent, her manner of speech, her inclination of honesty, her lack of a proper wardrobe, all acting against her in an attempt to create a better impression on her peers and fiancé! Your heart warms to her, as she starts to sort out how to navigate this world where propriety and posh behaviour reign!

She would come to know the solemn truths of marriage, of men and their infidelities and of the way in which women were ill-treated by their husbands. She gets a dashing blush of this ahead of her vows, but I think the reality of her new life took a bit longer to fully sink into her conscience. Where other women might have resolved that this was their fate to bear, Rose took the opposite path and decided that she was worth more than what the cards had dealt her! She decided to right the wrongs, and seek out a path which would lead her to an enlightened truth about herself and her station.

My Review of Becoming Josephine:

Becoming Josephine by Heather WebbShe left her Creole home an innocent of youth, jettisoning herself into a life in France which would test the strength of her inner resolve. Where she would have to eradicate her natural being of self into a transformed Parisian woman of elegance, whose strength would yield to power. She took on the challenge as an understudy would in a theatrical play. Learning through being bold in her choices of dress, style, mannerisms, and speech. Each nuisance she could alter of her previous life, she would discard straight-away in preference for discovering a better fit for high society.

Watching Rose grow in her strength as she separated from her first husband, Alexandre, she starts to find the courage she felt she had lost. Instinct of motherhood guides her towards carving out a stipend for her son Eugene and daughter, Hortense whilst she starts to put the pieces of her own fractured life back together. Her resilience is a lesson for all women who find themselves facing circumstances that they were not expecting. The fact she was gaining her independence on the eve of revolution was not lost on me. Perhaps without her circumstances jaded, she might not have had the ability to rise again? Or, rather she might not have found the strength to survive through the worst bits of the revolution. She walked through Hades in order to survive to live a life she could no longer imagine possible.

I found an undercurrent theme of which I had been exposed to in my readings during 2013, wherein certain women who were once cloistered to living life by man’s rules were coming to realise the true freedom lay in the courage to free themselves from the invisible bonds which held them hostage. I am always attracted to stories where strong women are at the heart of the narrative and in Becoming Josephine I was not disappointed! Josephine emerges out of the wings of despair as a pivotal woman of her time who could wield more than even she (I feel!) could desire! She takes the boldest step into the future by reinventing herself past the point of recognition, in order to find a freedom she had never known.

France set to Revolution:

The backdrop of Becoming Josephine is quintessentially Revolutionary France, where the French hinged between the start of the revolt and the ensuing Reign of Terror. A shuddering of emotions always rings through me whilst thinking on the harder hitting realities of the age which the French had to endure. Webb has a way of acknowledging the back-story of history behind the coattails of the character’s lives in such a way, as to gently guide the reader forward and through, rather than shocking us to our core. The revolution ekes out in small fashion, where rumours of revolt start to erupt in the salons of the day, and where the commoners start to realise they need to launch into a retreat from Royal rule. Part of me understands this and part of me grieves for the loss of the Royal family, due to how brutal the Revolution turns and ends.

And, yet at the heart of the center core of the Revolution you have Josephine and Napoleon, two people I never thought I’d see come together, now that I know the origins of Josephine’s past. The tapestry of fashion is lit and gilded behind the tumult which has been brewing to explode. Interspersed with the flamboyance of cloth and jewels, you gather the sense of urgency in the fever of desperation.

Gratitude to the author, Ms. Webb:

For staying true to her word, wherein she mentioned at the end of the book’s synopsis she had tempered the severity of inclusion of sex and violence. I am generally on the fence with choices writers make in their stories on both counts, as there are lines I think are too oft crossed, where a more delicate omission could have sufficed instead.  In this particular story, Ms. Webb gives the reader a rendering of the situations and events which befit the era of the story’s origins but on the level that even a sensitive reader could walk through the scenes without blushing too severely or cringing at the imagery painted in narrative. Even though she does plainly give the raw visceral imagery its due course. She doesn’t allow it to take over completely, but allows it to fade in the background. Except for what occurs in Rose’s home of Martinique and what happens when she returns to Paris, in which the horror of the attacks are in full measure. Rather than focus solely on the horror that erupted she gave the smaller details of the aftermath which proved just as difficult if not moreso to read. Such a horrid time in history for the survivors to have lived through. She chose instead to direct the focus on Rose’s rise into the persona of Josephine who became the woman’s edificial Phoenix.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The “Becoming Josephine” Virtual Book Tour Roadmap:

Becoming Josephine - France Book Tours

Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

on my Bookish Events Featured on JLAS!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

I propose this Question to my readers: What do you think is the overall appeal to reading about the Bonaparte’s and of Revolutionary France in general? What inspires us to dig deeper into the heart of the history which has been left behind for us to dissect? What gives us pause and reason to continue to seek out stories of what was happening in the shadows of history being writ as it was lived? Do you have a favourite coaxing storyline that gets you excited to pick up your next reading which is set in this historical era?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Becoming Josephine” as well as Heather Webb’s photograph and biography, the blog tour badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. France Book Tours badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Thursday, 2 January, 2014 by jorielov in 18th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Debut Novel, France, France Book Tours, French Revolution, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte, Reign of Terror, Revolutionary France, The Napoleonic War Era

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