I have a penchant for items which curate a story out of the historical past, as there have been a few incredible pieces of historical fiction stemming out of an article of clothing – A Vintage of Affair by Isabel Wolff (a hidden gem discovered at my local library!) and A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (of which I happily had the pleasure of reviewing!) come to mind instantly! One features a boutique of vintage clothes and the other, has a story threading through the history of a scarf – both have a particular strife attached to their back-stories, as the clothes of the first go back to the World War era and the scarf tackles a modern tragedy and the Shirt Waist Industry from the early Nineteen Hundreds.
Meissner anchoured her story with a duality of plots which fascinated me and emotionally gutted me at the very same time! Wolff entranced me by how the ‘clothes’ slipped the past into view, front and center. Between the two novels, I realised I have a passion for how objects and ‘things’ can become transportative whilst giving us a plausible step ‘backwards in time’!
This is why I continue to seek out stories which parlay on the same general themes as A Gown of Thorns the latest of which I will be reading next is The Black Velvet Coat by Jill G. Hall whilst I continue reading my challenge reads (Summer & Fall) on behalf of BookSparks this Spring. It is also why I was so wicked happy to be in a position to interview Ms Evans on her new release A Gown of Thorns as you will see in our conversation how invested I am in this topic and thankful our convo became a lively one where we explore the context of her story!
To gain a bit of a back-story on how I came to host Bookouture authors,
please visit my first conversation I featured with this publisher with Teresa Driscoll!
From the multi-award winning and bestselling author, comes a bittersweet romantic story set against the backdrop of the French Dordogne valley.
Hidden within the wardrobe’s embrace, she rifled through the folds of cloth until her fingers stopped at a gown of violet, lavender and silver-grey pleats. She lifted it off its hanger and turned towards the mirror…
Shauna Vincent arrives in the little French village of Chemignac after accepting an offer to be an au pair to the grandchildren of an old family friend.
As she begins to explore her new home at the ancient Chateau de Chemignac with it’s beautiful vineyards, she discovers a locked tower room where she unearths a treasure trove of exquisite vintage dresses. One gown feels unsettlingly familiar.
When Shauna falls asleep one afternoon in a valley full of birdsong, she has a strange dream of a vintage aircraft circling threateningly overhead. So when she suddenly awakes to find charming local landowner Laurent standing over her – Shauna wonders if he might be just the person to help her untangle this unexpected message from the past.
A Gown of Thorns draws you into a richly evocative world steeped in secrets that will mesmerize fans of Rachel Hauck’s The Wedding Dress, Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale and Adriani Trigiani.
I love hidden secrets which unravel a portraiture of history stitched inside a historical narrative – in many ways, this is why I loved reading A Vintage Affair by Isobel Wolff because the article of clothing is a tipping stone towards the heart of the story. How did you approach developing the setting of the back-drop of your story against the gown which is the link to the past inside A Gown of Thorns?
Evans responds: An interesting question. What came first, the backdrop or the gown? When I am musing over a new story, I rarely think it out in a linear way. I tend to get a whole picture all at once. In the case of Gown of Thorns, the sun-scorched vineyards of the Dordogne simply arrived in my head and I knew I wanted to make the backdrop a wine estate. Grape growing and pressing is a piquant and lush affair, and the scents and colours of the region add layers of richness.
The dress, the Gown of Thorns, of the title slipped into my head when I envisaged a stone tower that housed a dress whose history was checkered and passionate. That it was a Fortuny Delphos gown was established after I had looked at many, many photographs of vintage evening dresses on line. It jumped out at me as a style of dress that was so alluring and simple, that it was entirely believable that three generations of women should fall under its spell. Read More