Here are the stops your must visit today:
Christy@Love of Books: Katie McGarry: Pushing the Limits
Jennifer@Some Like it Paranormal: Cambria Hebert: Recalled
I am pleased to welcome author Katherine Keenum here today. She is the author of Where the Light Falls a lovely, historical romance set in Paris. Before we get to the book let me introduce you all to Katherine:
Katherine Keenum holds a Ph.D in Medieval Studies from the University of Texas. She is a former editor of the Publications Program for the Council on East Asian Studies at Harvard University and has also taught writing at Yale. She lives with her husband in Worcester, Massachusetts. Where the Light Falls is her first published work of fiction. She is working on a second historical novel,Anonymity, which is set in New York City in the early twentieth century. Its heroine is involved in children’s book publishing, the women’s suffrage movement, and an illicit love affair.You can find Katherine on her website, blog and Goodreads.
Here is debut author Katherine to tell you more about her favorite reads:
Like many debut novelists, I was thrilled to sign a book contract, but I worried, “Will anybody ever hear of my novel?” Now I know: yes, you will! It’s wonderfully reassuring to discover how much bloggers and their followers help each other find new books and new authors. So first of all, a big thank-you to Heidi for inviting me to be a guest on her website and another to her fans for reading what I post!
As I sat down to write, I asked myself, “What would a community of readers most want to hear from a new author? My website gives you the basics about my background and Where the Light Falls. This post gives me a chance to talk more about the kind of reader I am and how that affects my writing.
All my life, I’ve reread favorite books. When I was a third grader, it was a rule in our house that I had to read something else between each round of The Dutch Twins. As I grew older, I traveled with Frodo and Sam through Middlearth more times than I can count. If I’m blue, watching Singin’ in the Rain is just what I need (to change media for a moment). Best of all, every once in a while, I find a new book so captivating that after I finish the last page, I go right back to the first chapter and start over. It happened last summer with Seraphina by Karen Hartman. After getting the story line down, I just had to sink in a second time and soak up all the intricacies of her marvelous world.
In all my favorite books, I’m transported to times and places that are different from my own yet peopled with characters I can identify with and care about. Love of some kind is important, often romantic love, but also friendships or the love between siblings. Love of work or craft is another joy that feels important, and love of place matters. So when I write, I try to bring many dimensions into my stories. One way is to listen to my characters’ speaking voices in dialogue. When I do, they take off and say things I would never have predicted I could make up, and I learn what they love most.
As a reader, I know that a story must carry us along, and above all I want my fiction to be entertaining. At the same time, there’s nothing better than a novel that is worth going back to again and again because it always reveals new richness. I hope Where the Light Falls will be that kind of book for you.
Life is full of surprises—including for me this chance to go on-line and suddenly be in a new circle of friends. Heidi, keep blogging! Readers, keep reading! And all of you who are writing your own first novel, keep at it—there is a powerful group of supporters out there just waiting to be discovered.
I love the books that Katherine mentioned. I know what you mean about re-reading your favorites. Thanks to Katherine for being here today. Best of luck with your debut! Thanks to the good folks over at Penguin, I am able to offer a copy of Katherine's book: Where the Light Falls to one lucky U.S. winner. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Where the Light Falls by Katherine Keenum
A stunning debut novel of one woman's struggle with love and ambition during a revolutionary era in the City of Light.
As the Belle Epoque dawns, Paris attracts artists from everywhere. One is Jeanette Palmer, daughter of a prominent Ohio family, who has left Vassar College under a cloud of scandal.
Amid the city’s great bohemian neighborhoods and teaching studios, Jeanette befriends other female artists, as well as an American Civil War veteran named Edward Murer. She begins to achieve a level of artistic success. And her happiness increases as she and Edward grow more intimate with each other.
But Edward is plagued by his demons and addicted to laudanum—and as the world opens its arms to Jeanette, and the society around her is transformed by cultural and scientific innovations, she must resolve a conflict utterly new to so many women: the choice between ambition and love.
Jeanette is horrified to learn that she is being expelled from Vassar after helping her roommate elope. She had not idea that by ensuring that love would prevail she would endanger her entire future. Jeanette loves art with every breath in her body. She wants to paint and draw and be a successful artist, and now her dreams are dashed. Before she leaves, her favorite professor pulls her aside and informs her she is indeed talented and that she should consider pursuing her art career in Paris. Paris! It seems hopeless. Until she receives unexpected support from her spinster Cousin Effie. Soon the two are Paris bound where Jeanette intends to make her art career blossom. What she doesn't plan on is losing her heart and having to make the choice between her art dreams and love. Will Jeanette follow her heart or her head?
What I Liked:
- I used to dream of being an artist as a child, but of course, the reality is that is extremely difficult to make a go of it as an artist even by today's standards. I can only imagine the difficulties a woman would face at the end of the 19th century trying to pursue a career as an artist. This book brings out all the struggles and triumphs of a young lady who is able to pursue her art dreams in Paris. I loved learning about all the art. The descriptions of the art and all that goes into becoming an artist are fascinating. I especially enjoyed the Paris setting.
- I truly admired the plucky Jeanette. She is willing to make the many sacrifices necessary to become a successful artist in a time when it was frowned on for a woman to have a career. She keeps pushing and continues to do what she loves and she achieves her goals. Her journey isn't without its struggles, and she was constantly reminded that a woman could not have a career and be married. Would you choose to follow your heart's desire or to marry the man you loved? Not an easy decision for sure.
- I was completely wrapped up in Edward's story. He is a Civil War Veteran who is plagued by his own personal demons. During the war, laudanum was administered freely to soldiers to deaden the pain of injury and alleviate the horrors of the day to day strife of the soldiers. As a result, many people became addicted to this drug with devastating results. Edward continues to fight his addiction over and over again throughout the book. I was intrigued by his story and my heart ached for him. Not to mention, it was certainly an education on the ills of laudanum. I am definitely curious to learn more about the rampant laudanum addiction that existed in this era.
- This is a complex and detailed read. Ms. Keenum takes special care in crafting her characters and she is a gifted writer.
And The Not So Much:
- Even though the book had detail and lovely writing, I struggled tremendously with the pace. At times, the story crawls along and I had a hard time focusing. This book reminds me of something written in the Victorian era. It has a plodding story, and it doesn't really follow the traditional schematic of introduction, conflict, climax and resolution. It felt like a meandering overview of a young girl's life. In fact, there really isn't a definite conflict or even climax in this story.
- I usually love attention to detail, but in this case, I felt like the detail became overwhelming. There was at times so much that it really slowed down the book. Furthermore, there were so many characters coming and going, I had a hard time keeping track of everyone.
- This book has many different story lines that come and go and often times they are never fully resolved. For instance, I was completely interested in the storyline that followed a young man Robbie and his sister. Toward the end, Robbie is caught in a sticky situation and Emily is addicted to laudanum, but I never found out what happened to them. Did Emily beat her addiction?
- The romance does not develop until the last quarter of the book. I wanted so much more from the romance. It is nice and sweet when it does transpire, but I would prefer to have it be the centerpiece of the story.
Where The Light Falls is a beautifully written book that will appeal to a select audience. It is a complex story line that you must be patient with in order to appreciate this book. If you are looking for action and conflict and a fiery romance, this is likely not the book for you. If you enjoy learning about how women managed to balance a career and marriage at the turn of the nineteenth century check this out.
"For twelve days, the Atlantic Ocean had offered an infinitely subtle range of bright blue, slate blue, jade green, purple; of fire and gold at sunset; of pewter and silver at dusk."
"What she said, though, was that beauty fades, while people always need to eat and drink, so she lived with her mother and saved up until they could open a tavern."
"If you drop incidental tidbits of information every now and again, and seem willing to listen, people will tell you the most extraordinary things."
"It gives you the shivers for somebody to look, really look and see you, doesn't it."
"We are made to love and be loved, Jeanette, lots of different ways; but when two of you are in love, well, then there's a wholeness."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.