So last week I mentioned I was reading Amor Towles’s Rules of Civility, and there were some comments about how beautiful the cover of this book is. I decided I had to share it here since a) The cover really is totally gorgeous (and was what grabbed my attention in the first place) and b) The book itself was so amazingly good. I read it in a couple of days and wanted it to go on longer.
It’s set in 1937, and has a very Fitzgerald-y feeling to the prose (one reviewer called it a “throwback” novel, which it is in the best sense of the word–very atmospheric, full of characters doing glamorous things with a dark underpinning and having witty conversations). It opens in 1937, among the upper society of New York City, and is narrated by Katy Kontent, a young woman working in publishing and pulling herself up from a lower-class Russian Brighton Beach upbringing. She and her friend Eve, out carousing in jazz clubs on New Year’s Eve, meet a handsome young banker named Tinker Gray, you think the story is heading one way, then–well, it doesn’t. It’s almost Regency-esque in its complicated and detailed view of a very specific world. I loved it.
I am always looking for books set in the 1920s and 1930s, such a rich setting that isn’t seen much in romance (though I think it definitely should be!). I did one Undone short story set in the ’20s,The Girl in the Beaded Mask, and I would love to do more…
Right now I’ve started reading Sadie Jones’s The Uninvited Guests, since I’m still in a 1930s mood. What have you been reading lately? Do you like books set in this time period??
“There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars” –The Great Gatsby
Happy Tuesday, everyone! I am on my way back from the Vampire Diaries convention as we speak, exhausted but happy–watch for posts in the very near future about all my adventures in Mystic Falls. But today I’m talking about my April release from Harlequin Historical Undone, a 1920s short story called The Girl in the Beaded Mask, which I am sooooo excited about!
Ever since I read my first F. Scott Fitzgerald story in school (A Diamond As Big As The Ritz) I’ve been in love with this era. I love the gorgeous clothes, the music, the fancy cars, the cocktails, the sense of wild new freedom. But the 1920s were also so much more than that, a period of extreme and swift change after the horrors of World War I (which wiped out almost a whole generation of young men, and changed the way society worked in Europe forever). There is so much scope for drama and beauty in a story, not to mention beaded gowns and t-strap high heels. So I was practically jumping up and down when Harlequin gave me the go-ahead to write Lulu and David’s story.
Another thing I love is a good friends-to-lovers story, which Girl sort of is. Lady Louisa “Lulu” Hatton has been in love with David Carlisle for as long as she can remember. He was friends with her older brother and often visited the Hatton home, and he always loaned her books, took her swimming–and then danced all night with other girls. Until the war. Her brother was killed and David horribly injured. He’s turned into a recluse, never leaving his country manor, but she’s heard he will attend the infamous Granley masquerade ball, a wild, debauched spectacle beloved by all the “Bright Young Things.” So of course Lulu devises a way to sneak off to the party and find him, make him see how much she loves him, how much he has to live for–from behind her beaded mask.
Since I switch up time periods in my writing, I always try to immerse myself in whatever the setting of the next WIP will be, even for a short story like this one. Reading books of the era (non-fiction, primary stuff like diaries, even novels), watching movies set in the era and digging around on-line for images gets me in the right mood for Elizabethan, Regency, Georgian, whatever, and I had so much fun with the 1920s. (Did you know there was a version of Gatsby with Toby Stephens aka Mr. Rochester as Gatsby?? And Baz Luhrman is making a new version with Leonardo DeCaprio and Carey Mulligan…). Here are a few of the books I found really useful, if you’d like to look into the era more closely yourself:
Ronald L. Davis, ed: The Social and Cultural Life of the 1920s
Stuart A. Kallen, ed: The Roaring Twenties
Nathan Miller: New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America
DJ Taylor: Bright Young People
Humphrey Carpenter: The Brideshead Generation
Mary S. Lovell: The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family (a bit later than the 1920s, but very useful for seeing how a certain segment of English society lived in the period; also lots of fun!)
And I will be giving away a free download to one commenter on today’s post! What do you like best about the 1920s? What would you wear to a “Gatsby” party???