Genre: Feminist Historical Fiction

An Audiobook Review during #RIPXV | “A Lock of Hair” by A. Rose Pritchett, narrated by Melanie Huesz

Posted Saturday, 12 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring, knitting and playing solitaire agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions.

Through hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions, I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods. Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue wherein I can also request new digital audiobooks to become added to their OverDrive selections. Aside from OverDrive I also enjoy having Audible & Scribd memberships as my budget allows. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I have been able to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year since 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “A Lock of Hair” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with A. Rose Pritchett on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A Q&A with the author A. Rose Pritchett

I would normally compile questions for an author to respond to whilst hosting a blog tour, however due to the amount of personal stress & adverse medical emergencies in my family recently, I honestly had forgotten to submit questions to Ms Pritchett. Thereby, I chose a selection of the questions she responded to which were based on questions Ms Jess asked herself as I found her replies to fit in-line with topics I would have broached myself if I had had the chance to ask her questions of my own.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

Pritchett responds: When I first published my book a year ago, I knew I wanted to turn it into an audiobook, but didn’t know how to go about it. It seemed expensive and I already invested so much into editing and publishing. Then, after some research, I discovered that ACX has a royalty-share program, which means that I pay nothing upfront, but just split my royalties with the narrator. I auditioned a few narrators, and ended up choosing Melanie Huesz because she gave each character a unique voice, which I knew was a major challenge. After all, there are characters from Boston, Ireland and the South. Some are young, some are old, and one has Down Syndrome. After a couple months of back-and-forth, we got an audiobook produced.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

Pritchett responds: Mildred’s dog, Nightshade, is inspired by my dog, Isabel. Even though they’re different breeds, Nightshade acts a lot like Isabel. Also, I took a Meyers-Briggs test from Mildred’s POV for the heck of it, and she’s an INFJ like me, so there’s that.

How do you manage to avoid burn-out?
What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

Pritchett responds: Contrary to popular advice, I don’t write every day. A lot of times, I’ll switch my focus to one of my many, many hobbies. In fact, part of my routine on days that I write is to take a break to draw or cross stitch, just to be away from the screen. I also allow myself to take “lazy days”, which are days (usually Sunday) where I just do nothing at all except watch cheesy movies and play Sims. It gives my mind a rest so that I’m not half-dead the next time I stare at the little blinking line on the blank screen.

What’s next for you?

Pritchett responds: I have a completed draft of my second book set during WW2 that I’m trying to get published, and I’m currently working on my third book, which is a fantasy that I’m really in love with. I’ve also dabbled in screenplay writing, with a pilot for a miniseries inspired by my childhood growing up in the restaurant industry and a script that I’m working on-and-off based on my experiences going from my preppy middle school to my arts high school (total culture shock!). All of my works have the same snarkiness that A Lock of Hair has.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An Audiobook Review during #RIPXV  | “A Lock of Hair” by A. Rose Pritchett, narrated by Melanie HueszA Lock of Hair
by A. Rose Pritchett
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Melanie Huesz

Boston, 1846. Eighteen-year-old Mildred Parish, a barber's daughter, practices practical witchcraft using locks of hair obtained from her father's customers. She's very selective about who knows her secret and the kinds of spells she casts. Only people she trusts can know, and she must never cast a spell to harm another person.

One of her father's clients is Theodore O'Brian, an Irish immigrant whose family is fortunate enough to be wealthy. Mildred is head over heels in love with him, but he's destined to be with someone else. One day, a woman named Trinity Hartell comes knocking on Mildred's door. She has a vendetta against an entire family and wants Mildred to cast a death spell on them. The family? The O'Brians, including Theodore. Mildred refuses, but Trinity is set on getting what she wants, one way or another.

Mildred now feels she must protect the O'Brian family and the man she loves, but she must also protect herself. How can she make sure Trinity is stopped without telling the entire city of Boston that she's a witch?

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B089YD7759

Published by Self Published

on 11th June, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 6 hours and 7 minutes (unabridged)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #AudioReads, #Audiobook and #AudiobookwormPromotions

as well as #HistoricalFiction and/or #HistFic

About A. Rose Pritchett

A. Rose Pritchett

A. Rose Pritchett's writing career started in kindergarten when she daydreamed about being a fairy princess instead of learning subtraction. Her childhood obsession with American Girl turned her into an avid history lover.

At seventeen, she moved from her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia, where she earned her BA in writing with a history minor from Georgia Southern University. She continues to live in Savannah, still daydreaming about princesses wearing gorgeous dresses. A LOCK OF HAIR is her debut novel.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Saturday, 12 September, 2020 by jorielov in 17th Century, African-American History, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Boston, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Down Syndrome, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, History, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Special Needs Children

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen Shoop

Posted Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

In [2019] I launched a new weekly featured concentration of book reviews on Jorie Loves A Story which celebrates my love and passion for the historical past! For those of whom are regular readers and visitors to my blog, you’ll denote a dedicated passion for reading Historical Fiction (and all the lovely segues of thematic therein) – I am a time traveller of the historical past every chance I get to disappear into a new era and/or century of exploration. There isn’t a time period I haven’t enjoyed ruminating over since [2013] and there are a heap of lovely timescapes I’ve yet to encounter.

This feature was inspired by the stories I’ve read, the stories I’ve yet to experience and the beauty of feeling interconnected to History through the representation of the past through the narratives being writ by today’s Historical Fiction authors. It is to those authors I owe a debt of gratitude for enlightening my bookish mind and my readerly heart with realistic characters, illuminating portals of living history and a purposeful intent on giving each of us a strong representation of ‘life’ which should never become dismissed, forgotten or erased.

I began this feature with the sequel to a beloved historical novel I first read in [2013] – it was one of the first ARCs I received and it was the first year I was a book blogger though it was through a connection outside my life as a blogger. I celebrated K.B. Laugheed’s literature to kick-off this feature and hopefully will inspire my followers to take this new weekly journey with me into the stories which are beckoning to read their narrative depths and find the words in which to express the thoughts I experienced as I read.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

My path first crossed with Kathleen Shoop in [2015] whilst I was participating in a summer reading challenge by BookSparks. I was also a reviewer and blog tour hostess with the  publicity firm whilst I was joining the SRC reading challenge they were quite infamous of hosting for the very first time. My experiences that summer were less than gratifying as I lost traction with the challenge itself and only posted a few reviews out of the ones I was meant to be posting. Ms Shoop and I crossed paths that year due to her latest Letter series release “The Road Home” which was part of the SRC challenge for [2015]. During that summer I also received a #bookmail parcel from the author which include a variety of her stories for me to start reading. They were not for review consideration but if I was inspired to blog about them after I read them that was up to my own discretion and choice. I had a feeling I might be leaning in that direction as just by browsing through the stories and where they could be taking me, I felt they would be the #nextreads I would most enjoy experiencing.

Life and health afflictions (especially my chronic migraines) conflicted with my start/stop attempts to read the books themselves until I felt re-inspired to re-attempt to read one of the novels – “After the Fog” [Spring 2019] which I had no idea was being anchoured to a sequel “The Strongman and the Mermaid” which was also going to be featured on a blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours [Spring 2019]. Thereby, it felt like the timing was aligning properly for me to start to read her canon of stories and with my newfound inspiration I couldn’t wait to begin my journey into her collective works.

A bit over a year lateron, I am still struggling to get focused onto the stories on my backlogue due to various reasons where my IRL adversities in health and the health crises of my parents (we’ve been in the ER 6x times since November 2019; the last of which was this past Saturday!) to where I’ve effectively experience a lot of start/stops in my progress to read the stories on my shelves. When I saw this blog tour adverted I thought, there’s a novella prequel to the Letter series? Hmm. I took that as a sign of entrance into a series I have wanted to be reading for so many years now.

I received a complimentary copy of “The River Jewel” direct from the author Kathleen Shoop in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

My reactions to reading Kathleen Shoop:

You can hardly draw a breath as you enter into Rose’s life as a nurse in a small industrial towne which barely has enough medical practitioners that it needs to be medically sound in a place where emergencies were commonplace. In this instance, Shoop begins on a sombering note – of a mother and child who both exited the world the same night as the child’s arrival. It was difficult on Rose – a nurse who grieved for her patients as readily as the doctor she served, but what was one nurse to do with a patient whose birth went sideways as soon as it began? The house she was birthing inside was less than ideal – the light was missing but the effects of the hard birth were not lost on Rose. In many ways, this Rose reminded me of the Rose from Charton Minster (the historical series I loved reading by Margaret James) as both are nurses who go above and beyond their calls of duty.

We also get a firm overview of the towne – of how Donora is co-dependent on her industries and how those industries are co-dependent on each other. Situated below Pittsburgh, its location is on the opposite end of the state than I am familiar though I have passed through the Amish area north of Pittsburgh; it is one city I never had the proper chance to visit. The fact this story is rooted in the steel industry was not a surprise – though like most industrial stories, I found this one refreshing as I haven’t learnt as much about the Industrial Revolution as I ought to have before I graduated. Interestingly enough, no one was ever interested in talking about History after the Civil War or outside of the war eras of the early 20th Century. You have to rally together the missing pieces of history on your own and through reading Historical Fiction these past six years I’ve filled in the gaps far easier than all the years I was in school (which is telling in of its own).

Shoop writes with historical realism – the descriptive details you’d nearly expect out of a Historical narrative but also with a grittiness you might not be fully prepared for reading. Rather than gloss over certain aspects of the novel’s period history, Shoop delves into the gritty depictions of what this kind of life can lead to observing as you live through the era in which it is written about – from the visuals of what Rose must endure as a nurse to the ways in which the lives within the novel are spoken about or referenced. This is a historical novel that tucks you close to the edges – where you can peer at these people’s lives with a rawness as if they were going about their hours without realising someone was taking notes about how they were living, what they were doing or how they occupied their hours. It is an examination on a sociological layer of insight but it is also a gut-punch reality of how people lived through a particular jarring era in history where personal health and the environmental toxicity in their air was assaulting their lungs – “After the Fog” – is a cautionary story about how a disaster in the past can be a foreshadow to the future.

-quoted from my review of After the Fog

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A grandfather in his nineties takes a moment to sit with his granddaughter and his great-grandson to tell them about the fabled Strongman and Mermaid – at least this is our reckoning, as the story of who they had been has nearly become lost in time itself had he not held strong to the book which started to unravel his hidden memories of the past. For her sake, you could tell the strain was affecting her – she simply wanted to do right by her grandfather, where his mind was not allowing himself to remain independent and how the effects of his condition were not just growing worse but they were allowing her to think about the issues which would soon arise if she didn’t force the issue of his relocation. Anyone whose had elder relations knows the position she was in and knows it well; for circumventing problems before they arise in families is one of the hardest obstacles you can transition through outside of resolving the grief which stems from the loss of the relatives who’ve gone on into the next life.

It was here – in a kitchen, you find his voice is still viable enough to piece together the words which compose the story – of how someone’s parents were the better part of a story long since told and that is how we find ourselves time shifting back into 1910 – leaving 2019 with a fresh perspective about Donora about to flicker through our mind as we re-shift back into this sooty dusty mill towne which has a grip of a grasp on everyone whose once lived there.

Mary is a girl ahead of her years – in charge of rallying her siblings to rights before she heads off to work – they were bound for school but she needed to put in a day’s wage and help her family earn the keep which would enable them to stay afloat. You could see her industrious nature in how she attended to the fuel her family needed – not one to shy away from hard work or the arduous litany of chores most girls’ her age might not be as willing to do – you gathered Mary was a forward-thinking kind of girl which was a refreshing change out of her generation. She didn’t see herself limited by means nor in ownership of her future based on her present circumstances; she chose to look towards something positive rather than give into the fact her life could be a repetitious pattern of the hours she currently spent. You felt for Mary – for her courage but also her willingness to see the lighter side to life – where joy and happiness reside.

You immediately get lost inside The Strongman and the Mermaid – not just because the story is part legend and lore; of the personalities and personas people believe in despite the appearances of their composites in reality but because of how Shoop crafted the story. We find our vehicle in the presence of Patryk – a grandfather who simply wants to re-live the olden days if only to give the next generation pause to think about how their ancestors carved out the future they are currently enjoying to live. Part of his joy also stemmed from a deeply felt sense of honour and admiration for Mary and Lukasz – for their story was what had given him the most hope for his own situation. If he could hold onto the stories – keeping the memories close in mind as much as in heart, I believed Patryk felt he wasn’t going to completely remove himself from his own past. He was still a part of the stories being passed down and those living histories meant everything to him.

The more you disappear into the lives of Mary and Lukasz, the more you realise how hard they both were struggling against their own conventions. Their towne had a society of obligation about it – where old school philosophies hadn’t quite become exchanged for the new world mentality where a man and a woman could afford their own choices in their lives. Mary was expected to do the bidding of her parents – irregardless of what she personally wanted for herself, she was needed to work in order to provide whatever they needed based off her pay. This proved to be an exhausting commitment but also a sad one, too as she truly enjoyed her time spent with Mrs Dunn. Dunn was the kind of woman who appreciated Mary’s assistance but knew she couldn’t provide everything she needed – in many ways Dunn was the surrogate mother Mary needed in her life – guiding her with inspiration, encouraging her to think outside the required box her parents wished for her to feel security inside and giving her a chance to breathe a dream of her own choosing.

I truly liked how the story was paced – how you feel emotionally connected to both lead characters and how the towne itself feels a bit more alive somehow – it has its own pace of delivering its presence, not just due to the way work is scheduled but how the people live there. It is a fitting testament to this towne’s history but also as a nod towards the people who forged a life out of an area that was a hard-won place to carve out a living. All of this created the best atmosphere in which to soak inside the historical backdrop Shoop gave us and fittingly, it felt like a better place to begin the series rather than as a sophomore installment.

-quoted from my review of The Strongman and the Mermaid

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen ShoopThe River Jewel
by Kathleen Shoop
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

For everyone who hopes to find the perfect match…

1875 Des Moines, Iowa

The novella, The River Jewel, takes readers of the bestselling Letter Series novels back in time, before there was a last letter, before the Arthurs lost everything, before they knew a girl named Pearl.

Meet Tilly Rabel, a proud oyster-woman, and Landon Lockwood, the troubled son of one of the wealthiest men in America. The two could not be less suited for love. But when an old legend draws Landon to a hidden river cove, Tilly and he find each other, are lured by growing attraction, and repelled by competing desires to control Tilly’s waters. The hidden pool is replete with valuable mussel beds and the source of everything that makes Tilly who she is. Landon sees the illustrious treasure as the path to proving to his parents he is worth their love and worthy of the Lockwood name. Can Tilly trust Landon with her heart, with her beloved mussel beds? Can Landon trust that he has truly changed and doesn’t need his parents approval to live the life he wants?

Heartbreak, triumph, and a very special baby weave a tale sure to please readers who’ve read the entire Letter Series and those who are just starting the journey.

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1708629236

Also by this author: The Strongman and the Mermaid

Published by Self Published

on 3rd December, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 172

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Letter series:

The River Jewel by Kathleen ShoopThe Last Letter by Kathleen ShoopThe Road Home by Kathleen ShoopThe Kitchen Mistress by Kathleen Shoop

The River Jewel & The River Promise (series novellas) (prequel duology)

The Last Letter (book one)

The Road Home (book two)

The Kitchen Mistress (book three)

The Thief’s Heart (book four)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and ebook

About Kathleen Shoop

Kathleen Shoop

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 18th Century, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Iowa, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Multiple POV, Self-Published Author, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

Audiobook Blog Tour especially for #Janeites & #Austenites | A mini Review and a Conversation about “Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl” (Vol.5: the Quill Collective, series) narrated by Elizabeth Grace

Posted Saturday, 5 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 17 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm Promotion I expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding my own traction into audiobooks and the way in which storytelling took on a deeper layer of immersion for me as a listerner. Meanwhile, I started to curate my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue as well as a regional library who uses CloudLibrary; I offset borrowing audiobooks through libraries with an active subscription to Scribd (for audiobooks). I batch my membership months with Audible to several months per year and purchase a few audiobooks whilst I have it active as well as enjoying selecting free Audible Original audiobooks.

This is the long history of how I entered into becoming an audiobook reviewer – it was through hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions I originally crossed paths with Ms Christina Boyd with The Quill Collective (via the ‘Rational Creatures’ audio blog tour) and thereby have enjoyed keeping in the loop with their after canon stories connected to Jane Austen. This is how I came to know ‘Yuletide’ and now ‘Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl’ of whom is my favourite character from ‘Pride and Prejudice’; my favourite canon novel of Austen’s.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Elizabeth: Headstrong Girl” via Christina Boyd @ The Quill Collective in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Being a Janeite,

I have a fierce appreciation for The Quill Collective:

I’ve been a Janeite for a very long time – during #AustenInAugust [2017], I had the joyful pleasure of submitting a guest essay to commemorate how Austen has been moving in and out of my life over the years which ran on a featured day on Roof Beam Reader’s blog. It is in of itself a quite all-inclusive look at how Jane Austen has left a strong impression on my life. Do read it if you have a chance to peer into how Austen and her stories have given me a lifetime of reflective rumination & joy.

And, ever since my essay was published I have made fervent attempts of re-establishing myself into my Classics Club TBR – to source and seek out works of Classical Lit I’ve earmarked to be read and for the vast majority of those pursuits, it is the canon of Jane Austen I desire most to focus upon. I have the canon in print in several editions but most of those are packed save three and it is those three which I am in pursuit of finishing first whilst continuing to seek out after canon novelists and short story writers who are giving me a well of presence within those worlds that not only honour Austen’s own words but allow us to carry forward into the worlds themselves.

Whilst I was working on this featured post for the blog tour – I had an unexpected discovery – Audible now offers a more friendly budget price for listeners who are not in a hurry to purchase audiobooks (as choosing one per month was enough anxiety for me to last lifetimes) but rather would love to listen to an unlimited amount of them which are provided within the catalogue of the new listen and return service. Similar truly to why I am a lover of Scribd’s services for audiobooks.

Guess what the vast majority of those ‘free to listen in unlimited amounts’ per month include!? *Classics!* Including a fair amount of Jane Austen!!! I even found Rosamunde Pike’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Emma Thompson’s “Emma”!! Imagine?! I was truly taken aback and gobsmacked — another reason I am blessed to have a tablet now for listening to audiobooks & music – as it allowed me to accept a 30 day trial right now and remain within the grip of the Classics!

That news aside, what I LOVE about the Quill Collective is how they honour Jane Austen and how they remain wholly passionate about publishing stories which celebrates the canon but allows the writers they publish to re-envision those characters in such a refreshingly new way as to give each of us a new reason to seek Austen and to seek after canon stories of her collective works. These are the stories by a publisher who understands why we are such discerning readers of Classical Lit and the after canon retellings and sequels which allow us to ruminate further on those worlds… they give us the same passionate response in story as we personally give ourselves over to ponder whenever we pick up a story of Austen. And, for me – the highest praise indeed is their propensity of producing quality over quantity and giving all of us such a wonderful catalogue of stories I truly believe Austen herself would be wicked giddy over seeing published.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

An informative conversation with Elizabeth Grace:

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva. Updated version July 2020.

the questions were ones I provided and I delighted in her responses!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

As you’re narrating an audiobook with a collection of stories inspired by Jane Austen – I was curious, what first drew your eye to the project and what do you personally love about the voice, style and legacy of Ms Austen?

Grace responds: I was drawn to this project by an author I had started working with called Elizabeth Adams who wrote “Something Like Regret” for the anthology. I was just finishing up with her novel, “Green Card” and was looking for a new project. She recommended me to Christina Boyd who then asked me to audition for OHG. I hadn’t narrated an anthology before but I loved it.

Each story has such personality and a style that is at once individual to the author yet also completely in keeping with Austen’s original characters and wit. I think that is my favourite thing about her writing, how well it translates. It makes me realise how recent her writing was in the grand history of time and that while we think their society and thoughts are vastly different to ours, we haven’t really changed all that much.

I believe that is the best singular truth of insight into Jane Austen’s writings I’ve ever heard – how continuously relatable she is due to how we’ve become such an unchanged society. For all the progresses and all the developments of how live has shifted forward per generation, there are still telling truths about how she wrote about society and the pressures of how life can sometimes become too measured by what society believes it can dictate out of a life. I love the serendipitous nature of how you became attached to OHG; I tend to think those are the better moments of our lives – how we cross paths with people who have an important reason of being in our life at any particular point in time. It speaks to how we’re all connected. Whilst at the same time – how some stories ‘find us’ rather than how we presume to believe ‘we find them’.

Of all the stories of Austen, my first introduction to her stories was through “Pride and Prejudice” and thus, Elizabeth has been my favourite Austen heroine ever since the adaptation featuring Keira Knightley was released (as it coincided with my first readings). As you were reading the stories you’ve brought to life – what did you intuit out of them about Elizabeth and about her nature as one of our leading ladies who has withstood time to affect us on such a personal level of appreciation?

Grace responds: I have been asked similar questions before and I am always brought back to Tessa Dare’s wonderful foreword from the anthology. She talks about why Elizabeth is such a popular character and why we continue to relate to her so well and she says it is because “Elizabeth is just like me – but awesome”. I think that is so true, because she is extremely human and altogether female. She is clever and yet judgemental, witty and at times cutting, self-aware and often a little self-deprecating. You can feel her battling with the same traits that we battle with today and she does so with this beautiful honesty and vulnerability which allows her to accept when she is wrong but also speak out against her better judgement when she needs to defend herself, her family or her opinion.

I have so much Elizabeth Bennett inside me (as well as Jane Eyre and Jo March, and lest I forget Anne Shirley) that it isn’t too remarkable to me to realise why I haven’t found myself attached to another novel by Jane Austen (as of yet – ‘Persuasion’ has a new audiobook narration waiting in the wings for me via NetGalley) inasmuch as my absolute admiration, dedication and passion for ‘Pride and Prejudice’; singularly it is hard to discern, is it strictly due to Lizzie or is it equally split between her and Mr Darcy – of whom I’ve previously disclosed is my first and only (thus far into my fourth decade) book boyfriend! I believe that’s the key draw really – seeing someone who is not shy about speaking her mind, bluntly so at moments and honestly evoking a reaction out of others in order for her voice to be heard when it infers an importance to her to be said. In defence of family and self – there are no truer moments for which we all need to remember to listen to our intuition and feel confidence in our voice.

Isn’t that the mark of true classically perennial stories? Where you can revisit them and still see why you originally loved them but then find these extra layers of genius within how they were writ? I felt that way when I first started watching “Anne with an E” via NetFlix and when I was listening to the audiobooks for the first three “Anne of Green Gables” stories via Post Hypnotic Press – wherein I was seeing Marilla in a whole new ray of light wherein previously (per my younger visitation into this world) I was finding myself only drawn to Anne.

Did you have a favourite story in the collection?
And if so, what was it about it that drew you in as deeply as it had?

Grace responds: I really enjoyed each of the stories for different reasons. I recently did a reading of “Atmospheric Disturbances” by Christina Morland for the book tour and I loved that one because I really enjoy narrating arguments! I am not sure why, but I think its because of the fast pace and the high stakes.

Other memorable stories are “Love in the Limelight” by Beau North because of the amazing backdrop of Hollywood’s golden age. The one that moved me the most during my narration was “A Mate for Life” by Christina Boyd, I am sure you can hear my voice crack towards the end. There is something so nostalgic and tender about Elizabeth as an elderly woman reflecting on a life well lived while watching her grand-daughter begin her own journey into adulthood that is so touching.

OOh! I love when a narrator has to go head to head – character on character and walk us through the paces of a full-on row! It gives such a realistic edge to the story and such a believable measure of time for seeing the characters move through their lives – likewise, between the rows and the emotional anguish sequences – I daresay, I credit a lot to the stamina and the performances by narrators who can take us tenfold into their journey by voicing stories with such beautiful dimension! Those are dearly my favourite moments – where you can really hear and sense the ’emotions’ behind a narrator’s voice and how through their performance you can feel intuitively closer to when they had originally sat to read the audio play. As to me, audiobooks bring back why live radio theatre used to be as popular as it had been – audiobooks are the new variant of those radio plays – where it is all vocalised and it etches into your heart, encompasses your imagination and gives you this immersive depth that you cannot get otherwise by print or screen. It is very interpersonal and I love the effect of it.

I oft wonder how narrators approach their performances – did you do any prep work for narrating this series of stories and/or how did you approach getting into the head and heart of Elizabeth through the different incantations that were presented therein?

Grace responds: I would love to tell you that I prepped for weeks to get into Elizabeth’s mind and understand her inside out but the truth is I learned more about her during the process than beforehand.

Working with such talented authors as those featured in OHG, they set up the circumstances so perfectly you are given all you need to know to get stuck straight in. Like you, I was familiar with Elizabeth from reading “Pride and Prejudice“, watching the films and TV adaptations and (as a girl called Elizabeth) being likened to her for a lot of my life! I had a good grounding on what she stands for and who she is. It helps that she is super relatable so it is easy to put some of  myself into her which is really what we, as actors do. Rather than thinking so much on the lines of “what would my character do?”, I try to think, given everything I know about my character, if I was in this situation what would I do/how would I react?

OOh no standing on airs here – I love getting the ‘behind-the-book’ trivia bits about how stories are writ and performed – whatever inks out of being the truthful accounting of how a story was either first created or thus after performed are the right answers to give to my readers. I oft wonder though – isn’t that similarly true for regular performances as well? To best get into the headspace of a character you first have to take that fuller immersion into performing them – rooting out their essence and getting a niche of a feel for how they ought to be portrayed? At least, that is what I gather from afar?

I also love the personal touches you etch into this performance – as you said, you took it to a personal heart to heart level and inverted it to being a reflection of your own reactions and responses rather than simply leaning on ‘what Elizabeth Bennett might have done herself’. I think that’s champion and the best route into how to have obtained the right balance in your performance; as said, I have noted things from afar (from loving theatre, radio, television and film) but I never knew if any of those observations had merit as I haven’t yet worked in theatre.

Were there any secondary characters in this collection of stories you felt stood out to you the most?

Grace responds: Darcy can’t not stand out in the anthology, he plays such a significant role. Again, harping back to Tessa Dare’s foreword, I love her line about loving Darcy because he is smart enough to love Elizabeth. While all the other men are fawning over Jane, he is drawn to Elizabeth for all the reasons we love her.

In each of these stories we really see his tenderness towards Elizabeth shine. This is really prominent for me in “Resistive Currents” by Karen M Cox where he really displays this kindness and loyalty we don’t always get to see. I think I realised that while he is often played as being super stoic and harsh, it is really important to also portray his nervousness and protectiveness. Again, these are traits we would all have to some degree given his experiences and what he has been through.

I was immediately thinking about Peter Calpaldi as ‘Doctor Who’ – who apparently became one of the most unrelatable Doctors (according to those I’ve spoken with) and yet, he was so endeared to me for reasons you’ve broached about Darcy. It goes back to the layers of a character’s soul and the artfulness approach in how through their story and the stories after those initial ones which reveal more of those hidden layers that might oft go overlooked or become discarded in favour of presumptive prejudgements on their character. For me, Calpaldi brought a richness to the role – the emotional unresolved angst of an immortal person who could no longer live with the guilt and conscience of what he had done, whom he could not save and the weight of how the universe constantly pulled him into circumstances to act in impossible situations to resolve whatever wrong needed righted. In essence, he was portraying another situation that Dr Beckett found himself in perpetually in ‘Quantum Leap’.

I believe Darcy fits into this bracket as well – people have such strong reactions to Darcy – to his manners and to his speech that they sometimes fail to see the ‘real’ Darcy behind the gruffiness of his personality and to peer into what is motivating him to act and speak in the ways in which he is presenting himself to his peers and neighbours. As you said – more layers there, we just have to be open to finding them, understanding them and accepting Darcy on his own terms – very much like Lizzie had herself.

What is more challenging – tackling a character as renown as Elizabeth Bennett (or any Classical character) or having to give life and voice to a character fresh out of an author’s imagination?

Grace responds: There are real advantages and disadvantages to both, as you can imagine. Taking on characters that are well know, you are faced with other peoples’ preconceived notions of how they believe the character should sound or behave. However, it also means so much more when they tell you afterwards how much they feel you encapsulated that character for them. I do love creating them for myself, having the time to really understand someone new and be able to guide an audiences perception but when I do this, I am always also working with author who gave birth to them and also has a view on how they should sound so it’s not so different in that respect.

What are your favourite takeaways from this collection as a whole and what did you feel was the greatest message that would impact listeners and readers alike?

Grace responds: I think for me, the fact that each story is set in either a different time period or a different scenario really brings back the idea of Jane Austen’s initial writing being so incredibly modern. That we can pick these characters up and transport them this way while maintaining their original character traits and even literally their words in some cases just goes to show how revolutionary and natural her writing was. I think the anthology is very pertinent for women at the moment during this feminist wave where we support each other, we have opinions and we speak our minds and ultimately, we strive to be obstinate and headstrong.

What do you feel are harder to narrate? Short stories or novels and why?

Grace responds: I think novels are trickier, simply due to the length of them. Short stories tend to be very dynamic and fast paced as they try to fit in a fair amount of drama into a relatively short amount of time. They are also less complex with regards to dramatic reading in terms of chronology and subtext. Usually we find the characters in short stories have very clear needs and obstacles from the outset which for a narrator requires a little less planning. Novels are longer and so you need to be more conscious of maintaining the momentum of the story throughout and you need to really consider the characters motives at each point – what do they know, what don’t they know, what is the immediate need and what’s the end game for them etc. However, I do love novels for this complexity too, it’s often more challenging and you can get really stuck into the story, whereas with anthologies, I can feel like I am on a roll, then the story concludes and I am on to the next.

How did your impression of Elizabeth change from “Pride and Prejudice” to “Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl”? What do you think became reflected through these new stories that perhaps Austen left out of disclosing herself on her behalf? As much as how did it feel to voice such a literary heroine as Elizabeth and share her name?

Grace responds: From a purely feminist perspective, when I look back on Elizabeth in “Pride and Prejudice” with all the knowledge I have now, it feels like she could have done more. Please don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t want the story to change but after reading of her in OHG doing all these amazing things, I feel bad that ultimately, by accident in a way, she ends up bending to societies’ expectations.

In “The House Party” by Janetta James, Elizabeth is surrounded by the suffragette movement and while she supports these women and their fight, she doesn’t get stuck in herself. It took me a moment to realise how very “Elizabeth” that is. And I am the same. I wonder what adrenaline and desperation Emily Davison felt before she flung herself in front of the King’s horse, but I will likely never know.

Like Elizabeth Bennet, I am woman of relative means, I have always lived a comfortable enough life to see the other side not so far away and to support and sympathise, say the right words but not necessarily feel that desperation to join the physical fight. Not everyone can feel like that, otherwise everyday would be a revolution I suppose, but did Jane Austen not feel desperate as a female writer in the early 1800s?

I wonder if it crossed her mind to make Elizabeth more revolutionary, but if she feared that it would make her a lot less likable at the time. I imagine she would be proud to see her heroine become one of the only female engineering students at Fordyce University, or sticking up for her sister to a big movie executive in Hollywood. We have the amazing ability to make Elizabeth’s options in life limitless. As a fellow Elizabeth, I thank women like Jane Austen for giving us a heroine that does withstand the passage of time and allows fantastic, modern authors to give new direction to her and inspire the next generation.

When you’re not narrating and performing what renews your spirit?

Grace responds: I love to travel which is why lockdown has been so hard for me. I am real social butterfly and love nothing more than seeing new places and being close to people – 2 meters just isn’t near enough! I have found solace however in my work, meeting some amazing, creative people in these authors and working with them to create something special. I write this from a hotel on an island in the Canaries called Lanzarote. It’s a little 10-day getaway that I will be paying for in isolation for 2 weeks on my return but will hopefully feel refreshed and renewed!

I am a traveller myself and fully respect the angst! Even though we, as a family have grown to love our car picnics and takeaway meals – there is something to be said for real sit down meals out of the house – which thankfully we did do the night prior to when this post runs on Jorie Loves A Story as we were craving an evening out where we could do something pre-pandemic normal and learnt our local pub was at half capacity and had an available table. I cannot express how comforting it was to order our favourite Friday night meal (ie. sloppy joes with fries) and try a new dark lager beer with a toasted after note! Even our server was thankful we were there and it was wonderful to see her after such a long absence! It was only the second time we’ve gone back to eat out – the first was during an epic storm ahead of a 12 hour shift for Mum and that was only a quick grab and go meal in a takeaway restaurant with no one else round. No, last night it felt more like we had captured a dose of normalcy and it felt brilliant!

Like you, I find solace in how I can adapt to what life brings to our path and how we can remain in contact with people in however they enter our lives. My blog is a labour of love and a saving grace which allows me to focus outside my personal adversities and give back to book world as much as it is a journalled collection of my readerly adventures and the curious thoughts which stories inspire me to share with fellow bookish geeks who seek out book blogs to read to find new inspiration in their own bookish lives. As bookish joy shared is tenfold better than never to have shared it at all.

I pray your holiday gives you what you are hoping it shall reveal and I definitely understand how it is worth the inconvenience of self-isolation on return because of what it will give you once you’ve arrived. We are all finding our way in this new situation and finding that if we keep ourselves adaptive and bendable we’ll make it through just fine.

Many blessings to you, Ms Grace and thank you for blessing me with this lovely conversation! Some of your replies I left as they were as I hadn’t had the chance to listen to the fuller contents of the audiobook prior to this being shared on my blog. I enjoyed your revelations and cannot wait to peer into those sections and re-visit your takeaways and comments.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Audiobook Blog Tour especially for #Janeites & #Austenites | A mini Review and a Conversation about “Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl” (Vol.5: the Quill Collective, series) narrated by Elizabeth GraceElizabeth
Subtitle: Obstinate Headstrong Girl
by (Editor) Christina Boyd
Source: Direct from Publisher
Narrator: Elizabeth Grace

With timeless verve, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, bares her intimate thoughts while offering biting social commentary through a collection of romantic re-imaginings, sequels, and prequels, set in the Regency to present day by ten popular Austenesque authors.

Foreword by NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Tessa Dare. “I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print…” wrote Jane Austen in a letter, January 1813―and we think so too!

Stories by Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, Joana Starnes, Karen M Cox, Elizabeth Adams, Leigh Dreyer, J. Marie Croft, and Christina Boyd.

Genres: After Canons, Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Classical Literature, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B08FCSJ33D

Also by this author: Rational Creatures

Also in this series: Rational Creatures


Published by The Quill Collective LLC

on 31st August, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 10 hours and 41 minutes (unabridged)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Divider

Posted Saturday, 5 September, 2020 by jorielov in After the Canon, Anthology Collection of Stories, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Classical Literature, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Jane Austen Sequel, Short Stories or Essays