Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Interview with author Anne Easter Smith - Royal Mistress / Richard III Blog Tour

This is the moment I have been waiting for all year; my interview with author Anne Easter Smith, a fellow Richard III enthusiast! As a part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour for her upcoming release, Royal Mistress, she is doing a special feature on the recent discovery of Richard III's remains in Leicester, which is the focus of today's interview. Now, enough preamble from me, let's hand it over to Anne:

What was your reaction to the possible, and then confirmed, discovery of the remains of Richard III earlier this year?

First of all, thanks for hosting me today!

It has been a very exciting six months for Richard III fans, that’s for sure. Back in August, as a member of the Richard III Society, I was asked to contribute to the dig that was to eventually reveal Richard’s skeleton. It was a long shot, we all knew, but it bothered us that Richard’s grave was the only one of England’s crowned monarchs that had never been found. As a known author of books about Richard, I got a personal plea from Philippa Langley, the intrepid Ricardian who felt it in her bones (sorry) that Richard’s were beneath this boring car park in Leicester. I was in London on August 25th when on the first day of digging, the team from Leicester University uncovered a wall of Greyfriars Church. I was in France in mid September when I saw on the French news that they had uncovered a skeleton. I was so excited, I almost dropped my croissant in my coffee. On February 4th (on holiday in Mexico), when it was revealed that DNA testing was a positive match for Richard, I cried into my plateful of tamales!

Now that Richard III’s remains have been found, do you believe that history might attempt to portray Richard III in a kinder light?

As well as being able to reinter Richard in a more appropriate place that will give us somewhere to pay our respects, the most important aspect of this discovery is the possibility of re-examining this most maligned of English kings. It has brought Richard into the spotlight, and you can bet there will be a rash of non-fiction/fiction books written about him in the next few years. All good news for Richard! Those of us in the Richard III Society who have been doing scholarly research on him for decades will gloat a bit and say, “I told you so,” when new research will reveal that Shakespeare and his Tudor historians got this man all wrong!

There is currently a controversy as to where Richard III will be permanently laid to rest. What is your opinion on this matter?

The last I heard, Leicester Cathedral was to be the recipient of Richard’s remains. I’m okay with this, although there is no doubt Richard would have preferred to be laid to rest in York Minster. He had such a strong affiliation with the north and Yorkshire in particular, and to this day, Yorkshiremen call him “good king Richard,” unlike most of the rest of the English populace! He definitely does not belong in Westminster Abbey, alongside the Christopher Wren designed urn that purportedly holds the bones of the princes in the Tower, and whose inscription condemns Richard as their murderer (without any proof)! I also thought that if York and Leicester couldn’t agree, then perhaps he might be happier being with his mum, dad and brother Edmund in Fotheringhay Church in Northamptonshire near the castle where Richard was born.

The Richard III Society recently released a reconstruction of Richard III’s face based upon the skeletal remains. What was your initial response when viewing the face of the man whom you have researched for so long?

That it was a kind face and not an evil one as depicted by history and Shakespeare. It certainly resembles the most famous portrait we have of him, although research lately has found that portrait was doctored to make him look older and less kind. He was only 32 when he died, and the portrait makes him look much older and not as “bonny” as the reconstruction. The countess of Desmond after dancing with Richard is said to have written that Richard was, except for his brother Edward, the handsomest man in the room and well made. Others don’t mention his face except to liken it to his father, Richard duke of York’s. But there are several references to his lack of inches, which of course, we now know was due to scoliosis. But NO mention of a hunchback! The skeleton measures 5ft. 8ins. (Edward was 6ft. 3 1/2ins!) but his painful back may have made him seem smaller.

What first inspired you to write about Richard III in your novel, A Rose for the Crown?

I had my “aha” moment in my early 20s when I came to the end of Josephine Tey’s DAUGHTER OF TIME, a contemporary novel written in the 1950s, in which this well known English mystery writer’s protagonist is a detective who decides to solve the mystery of who killed the princes in the Tower. The author did all her research thoroughly, and in the end came to the conclusion that Richard did not have any motive to kill his nephews, and she believed the boys lived into Henry VII’s reign, and he had far more motive to rid himself of them. I was flabbergasted (or as we say in England--gobsmacked!). I had always been told in history classes that Richard III was one of our Bad Kings. And I was very familiar with Shakespeare’s play (with a mother and a sister in the acting profession). Surely Tey could not be right? So thus began my own research of this intriguing and misunderstood man. That was forty plus years ago, and I am still fascinated by him!

When I set out to write A ROSE FOR THE CROWN, I wanted to tell the real Richard’s story--but I really had no aspirations to publish the book, I just wanted to prove to myself I could write such a story. It was a labor of love, no question.

Has the recent excitement over the discovery of Richard III’s remains inspired you to write about this fascinating king once more?

My newest book (out in May) is ROYAL MISTRESS, a retelling of the compelling and very dramatic story of Jane Shore, Edward IV’s final and favorite concubine. As Richard figures hugely in what happens to Jane after Edward’s untimely death in April 1483, I got to see him from a different perspective. It was hard to figure out his motives for many of his actions in those three months before his coronation, and it made me understand why there are people who think he was a usurper and schemer. That was hard for me to swallow, I can tell you. But I had to be true to Jane and look at Richard from her viewpoint. I chose to write this book using omniscient voice, which gave Richard a chance to tell his side too. I hope I have created a complex character who believed deeply in his duty and morality.

Would a readership want yet another book about this enigmatic king? I am tempted, but I fear many others will already be halfway through one in order to jump on this particular bandwagon! All I know is that if I decide to write a book with Richard as the central character, my readers will know that I have steeped myself in this man’s character and life for the past forty years. I think I would be fair and I think I would be accurate! What do you all think?

Are there any closing thoughts on Richard III that you would like to share with us?

I think I have elaborated enough about him in the preceding answers! But I’d like to leave you with one puzzle that I agonized over during the writing of ROYAL MISTRESS. Why did Richard execute Edward’s faithful chamberlain, William Hastings, with such haste and--uncharacteristically, because Richard was obsessed with the law--without trial? To me this is the key to the mystery that surrounds his character, not the disappearance of those princes.

Thank you so much, Anne, for stopping by The Muse in the Fog Book Review and sharing your thoughts on this captivating monarch! It is always a delight to have you here.

To learn more about Anne and her work, you may visit her website:

Take a look at Anne's upcoming novel, Royal Mistress:

Publication Date: April 7th 2013

Synopsis (From the Pucblisher):
"Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore. Marriage doesn’t stop Jane from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows King Edward will find her irresistible. 
Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as those of Jane and Will Hastings, hangs in the balance. Jane must rely on her talents to survive as the new monarch, Richard III, bent on reforming his brother’s licentious court, ascends the throne. 
This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for five hundred years, and, as told through the unique perspective of a woman plucked from obscurity and thrust into a life of notoriety, Royal Mistress is sure to enthrall today’s historical fiction lovers as well."


Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

International Giveaway! The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

It seems that lately I've been seeing The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe everywhere I go, so I thought I'd spread the sightings and giveaway a brand new copy to one winner chosen at random. This giveaway will be apart of the Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy @ I am a Reader Not a Writer. To enter, just fill out the form below. Good luck!!!

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Katherine Howe, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with an entrancing historical novel set in Boston in 1915, where a young woman stands on the cusp of a new century, torn between loss and love, driven to seek answers in the depths of a crystal ball. 
Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston’s Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium. 
But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium’s scrying glass.
From the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown to the opulent salons of high society, from the back alleys of colonial Shanghai to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass weaves together meticulous period detail, intoxicating romance, and a final shocking twist that will leave readers breathless."

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Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Suddenly Sunday

Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea @ The Muse in the Fog Book Review. The purpose of Suddenly Sunday is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week. If you would like to participate, just grab the button and link back here.

Hello! Since I've been running behind all week, I thought I'd throw up a quick post so everyone who participates in Suddenly Sunday can add their post to the linky without waiting for me to play catch up; I'll be back later today with my full Suddenly Sunday post. Enjoy your Sunday!

Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Ebook Promotion: Honolulu by Alan Brennert

For a limited time Barnes and Noble and Amazon are offering an ebook edition of Honolulu by Alan Brennert for 2.99!

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"From the bestselling author of the “dazzling historical saga” (The Washington Post), Moloka’i, comes the irresistible story of a young immigrant bride in a ramshackle town that becomes a great modern city 
“In Korea in those days, newborn girls were not deemed important enough to be graced with formal names, but were instead given nicknames, which often reflected the parents’ feelings on the birth of a daughter: I knew a girl named Anger, and another called Pity. As for me, my parents named me Regret.” 
Honolulu is the rich, unforgettable story of a young “picture bride” who journeys to Hawai'i in 1914 in search of a better life. 
Instead of the affluent young husband and chance at an education that she has been promised, she is quickly married off to a poor, embittered laborer who takes his frustrations out on his new wife. Renaming herself Jin, she makes her own way in this strange land, finding both opportunity and prejudice. With the help of three of her fellow picture brides, Jin prospers along with her adopted city, now growing from a small territorial capital into the great multicultural city it is today. But paradise has its dark side, whether it’s the daily struggle for survival in Honolulu’s tenements, or a crime that will become the most infamous in the islands’ history... 
With its passionate knowledge of people and places in Hawai'i far off the tourist track, Honolulu is most of all the spellbinding tale of four women in a new world, united by dreams, disappointment, sacrifices, and friendship."


Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Suddenly Sunday

Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Svea @ The Muse in the Fog Book Review. The purpose of Suddenly Sunday is to share all the exciting events that have occurred on your blog throughout the week. If you would like to participate, just grab the button and link back here.

Good morning! The first week of February has come and gone and I am completely in shock that I'm 3 books ahead of schedule for my reading goal on I know a lot of you participate in that challenge, but how lofty are your goals and do you usually meet them? I have to admit I usually fall short of mine, but thanks to my increasing cushion, I am sure I can reach my goal this time. We thankfully got a bit of rain the other day, but I fear we've already started another dry spell. For any of you who are on the east coast and facing the wrath of Nemo, I pray you and your loved ones are warm and safe. 

An Announcement: 
For those of you who know my pursuits in life you are well aware that I am an aspiring author. Over the past few years I have been meddling in different genres and eras of history, but it wasn't until recently I became more vocal about my passion for writing. I did not want to mix my personal ramblings on writing with my historical fiction blog, so a couple of weeks ago I created a separate blog and twitter account that will be dedicated to my writing journey. If you are interested in writing, or just curious about what I am up to, I would love to have you stop by; the blog is titled The Pen and Plume, and my twitter handle is @SveaLove. Now, I assure you, The Muse in the Fog Book Review is not going to be set aside in the slightest, bringing you the latest and greatest in historical fiction is, along with writing, my passion! 

This week I reviewed:

Other Posts:

I just finished The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin and should have that post up on Wednesday, followed by a review of The Second Empress by Michelle Moran on Friday.

I'm currently reading Mistress of my Fate by Hallie Rubenhold, and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

Have a great week and happy reading!
Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony

Publication Date: October 2012
Format: Paperback 326pp 

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"The mad passion for forbidden lace has infiltrated France, pulling soldier and courtier alike into its web. For those who want the best, Flemish lace is the only choice, an exquisite perfection of thread and air. For those who want something they don’t have, Flemish lace can buy almost anything––or anyone. 
For Lisette, lace begins her downfall, and the only way to atone for her sins is to outwit the noble who now demands the impossible. To fail means certain destruction. But for Katharina, lace is her salvation. It is who she is; it is what she does. If she cannot make this stunning tempest of threads, a dreaded fate awaits. 
The most lucrative contraband in Europe, with its intricate patterns and ephemeral hope, threatens to cost them everything. Lace may be the deliverance for which they all pray...or it may bring the ruin and imprisonment they all fear."

My Review: 

The Ruins of Lace tells the story of seven vastly different people, and how one coveted length of lace brought them together in a web of scandal, passion, and murder. The chapters alternate between these seven characters, so by the end you will only read a few chapters from each character. While this is a bit sporadic at the beginning, especially since the characters initially have nothing to do with one another, it does become a very interesting aspect of the novel, and if it was not present, the story would not have the same impact.

It's been a long time since I have finished a book and not wanted to pick up another right away, just so I could continue to savor the last one a bit longer; this novel ended that drought. After reading so many historical novels surrounding kings and queens, or other prominent people, it was refreshing to read one that is so unique and promotes a desire to research a new aspect of history. Not only was this an intriguing read, the pace was also quick and the plot engaging. Also, the fact that the author used the making of lace to symbolize how the characters lives were woven together by the contraband was a beautiful aspect.

If you are looking for a good historical fiction novel that stands in its own corner, I definitely recommend taking a look at The Ruins of Lace. Simply put, it's a brilliant debut novel for Iris Anthony.

Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ebook Promotion: The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris

For today only (February 6th, 2013) Barnes and Noble is offering 

Publication Date: 2011
"In the first in a stunning new mystery series set in eighteenth-century England, Tessa Harris introduces Dr. Thomas Silkstone, anatomist and pioneering forensic detective. .  
The death of Sir Edward Crick has unleashed a torrent of gossip through the seedy taverns and elegant ballrooms of Oxfordshire. Few mourn the dissolute young man--except his sister, the beautiful Lady Lydia Farrell. When her husband comes under suspicion of murder, she seeks expert help from Dr. Thomas Silkstone, a young anatomist from Philadelphia. 
Thomas arrived in England to study under its foremost surgeon, where his unconventional methods only add to his outsider status. Against his better judgment he agrees to examine Sir Edward's corpse. But it is not only the dead, but also the living, to whom he must apply the keen blade of his intellect. And the deeper the doctor's investigations go, the greater the risk that he will be consigned to the ranks of the corpses he studies..."


Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.