Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Guest post, Romantic Comedy

A Train from Penzance to Paris Laura Briggs #GuestPost #ALittleHotelinCornwall #RomCom @PaperDollWrites @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #Romance #Paris #Cornwall #PublicationDay

When Maisie accepts a celebrated author’s invitation to mentor her, she finds herself leaving Cornwall behind on train tracks bound for the glitter city of Paris. Instead of making beds and serving coffee at the Penmarrow hotel in Cornwall, she’s making notes on her manuscript while sitting in a French cafe, meeting famous writers at private dinner parties, and trying to ferret the secrets behind the author’s unfinished future novel.

It’s glamorous, it’s breathtaking … but it’s also an ocean channel away from the place that she loves, and, more importantly, the person to whom she just recently confessed her deepest feelings. Separated from Sidney by distance and circumstances, Maisie fears that their connection will be lost despite her words to him – and maybe because of those words, and the ones she didn’t allow him to say in return.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of things in her new life trying to distract her – the professional editor hired to critique her novel, the eager young literary agent who sees pie-in-the-sky potential for Maisie’s talent, but Maisie finds solace in the eclectic group of amateur writers into whose midst she finds herself by accident. Their critique and advice is fast becoming as important as the editors – maybe even more important than the published author Maisie believed held the keys to refining her skill.

But it’s missing Sidney that fills Maisie’s thoughts the most, along with her life back in Port Hewer, and she can’t stop wondering whether his feelings are the same as her own. His unspoken answer has become one of the most important pieces of her life, even as she struggles to match the pace of her new life and keep her dreams in sight. And when she unwittingly becomes privy to a seeming literary conspiracy, she must decide what to do in light of its truth – and decide what’s most important in her quest to become a professional writer.

Join Maisie in a whirlwind tour across two of the world’s greatest cities, filled with questions, dreams, and a chance for fame that she believed far beyond her grasp, as she discovers herself as a writer, and how to embrace an unexpected future on her own terms.

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Guest Post – Laura Briggs

Favorite Things About Writing ‘A Train From Penzance to Paris’:

A huge thank you to Jane for letting me drop by and chat about my latest book with everyone on her lovely book blog! It is the fifth installment in my series about aspiring author Maisie Clark, whose adventures working at a Cornish hotel by the sea have been filled with secrets, romance, and plenty of surprises along the way. This newest story is a bit different from the ones before it, taking Maisie to new locations with new acquaintances—but still lots of questions about her future as a writer, not to mention her romance with the charming Sidney Daniels back in Cornwall. With so many changes, yet so much still the same, I thought it might be fun to share a few of the reasons I enjoyed working on Maisie’s latest adventure, so here goes!

Part of the story takes place in Paris:

I was fortune enough to visit the City of Light with some friends a couple of years ago, and it was every bit as beautiful as it seems in the movies. Like Maisie, I was a bit dazzled by the chic atmosphere and historic landmarks (and the pastries were among the best I’ve eaten anywhere!). It was a wonderful experience that I hope crept its way into some of the descriptions of Maisie’s own impression of this gorgeous part of the globe—though, no doubt it still contains the many inaccuracies of a tourist’s attempts to capture the nuances of a place they’ve visited only once! Though I do hope it will at least whisk the reader away to a version of the city as colorful and glamorous as those found in classic films like Funny Face and Paris When it Sizzles, or the many popular chick lit reads about Parisian bookshops and quaint cafes!

A love of books and writing is a recurring theme:

And as a writer, I can definitely identify with Maisie’s excitement—as well as her hesitations—about plunging into the world of published works. It was fun to explore that side of her character more thoroughly and to show some of the challenges faced by those who purse the dream of sharing their work on the page. It was especially fun to explore the dynamics of the amateur writing group that Maisie becomes a part of on her visit to London. Their diverse backgrounds and writing styles take the budding novelist Maisie by surprise on more than once occasion as she gets to know these fellow artists who share the same hopes, reservations, and secret ambitions in their love for the craft.

The romance is kept in suspense:

Those familiar with my Cornish hotel series have probably come to expect the slow burn nature of Maisie’s relationship with the handsome and somewhat inscrutable Sidney Daniels. And although Sidney doesn’t factor into this newest story as a key player, he’s definitely in Maisie’s heart and thoughts the entire book. Her letters to him reveal her deepest dreams and fears about her writing quest yet, and even though the feelings between them are still unresolved, she has no doubt about his place in her heart—or those three all-important words she spoke to him the last time they shared a kiss right before she had to say goodbye. Whether or not her quest to fulfill her dreams has cost her a chance with him remains to be seen, but Maisie isn’t the type to give up where her heart is concerned, and readers can expect some much-anticipated romantic resolution when book six in the series makes its debut later this summer.

There’s a surprise twist at the end:

And that’s also something fans of the series are accustomed to, though I’m hoping they won’t even have an inkling what this one could turn out to be. It certainly knocks Maisie for a loop, so to speak, and readers can expect some drama and a little angst as Maisie’s fifth adventure reaches a somewhat unexpected conclusion.

If you haven’t yet read any of the books in A LITTLE HOTEL IN CORNWALL I do hope this will inspire you to check them out. Books one through five are now available in eBook format, with book six currently on pre-order at Amazon!

Laura Briggs

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

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Posted in Book Spotlight, Crime, Political Thriller, Thriller

#TexasStyleJustice @Susanpbaker #noveltexasstylejustice @rararesources #SocialMedia #Blitz #promo

Devastated by a divorce and death of a child, Judge Torie Van Fleet rebuilds her life around succeeding in the justice system. Her goal: the U.S. Supreme Court. Vowing to do whatever it takes, she risks her relationship with her new husband, her relationship with her best friend, and the support of her constituents. Not until the critical first step in the process does she realize what an exorbitant price her backers demand that she pay. Will she risk everything, come to terms with her priorities, or does she even have a choice? 

#noveltexasstylejustice

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Spotlight, Motivational, Non-Fiction

Feasible Planet Ken Kroes @ken_kroes #Lovebookstour @Lovebooksgroup #BookBlitz #Promo #SaveThePlanet #FeasiblePlanet #ecology #Sustainable #living

Are we doing enough?

Are you concerned about the state of our planet and hope that governments and corporations will find a sustainable way for us to live? If you do not think about it too hard, that may work, but will it? Left on their own, with drivers of popularity and profits, I am not too convinced that it will.

The missing part of this equation is you and me. Individuals who believe that corporations and governments can do better. Individuals who believe that through action, we can buy a bit more time to develop and implement solutions to our critical issues.

Did I hear a groan out there when you read the word ‘actions’? Do not worry! Most of the actions that I am referring to will not only help save the planet, but will benefit you right away through saving money, time, better health, and having a happier life in general.

Sustainability goes beyond controlling our consumption and pollution. There are key social, political, and economic areas that need to be addressed as well, and there are several steps that individuals can take to help in these areas.

For those of you who feel we could do more, this book is for you and is loaded with actionable activities, the reasons for doing them, and explores why we are not doing them already.

Every journey starts with a first step. Hopefully, this book will lead to those first sustainable steps and that will change the world.

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Ken Kroes

Ken Kroes is the author of the Percipience Eco-Fiction Series and the non-fiction books, Feasible Planet and Feasible Living. He is passionate about our relationship with our planet and applies his diverse background which includes agriculture, mechanical engineering and information systems into his writing. Born in Calgary, Canada he has bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and has had the pleasure of living in many locations in North America and has travelled extensively.

He can be reached at Ken@feasibleplanet.com

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

The Whitsborough Bay Series Jessica Redland @BoldwoodBooks @JessicaRedland #Friendship #Relationships #Romance #FamilyDrama #Uplit #NorthYorkshire #BlogTour #Extracts #WhitsboroughBay #boldwoodbloggers

SOMETIMES LOVE CAN BLOOM WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT…

For Sarah Peterson, it’s time for change. Coming out of a dead end relationship and having had enough of city life, she just needs to escape and have a fresh start – a new job, a new home and a new lifestyle.

So when her Auntie Kay unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to take over her flower shop, Seaside Blooms, the timing could not be more perfect. She could escape to the beautiful seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, start a new chapter in her life – and learn how to run a business!

But, as she packs up her life in London, she isn’t prepared for the discovery of a clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All of the predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven…

As she prepares for the biggest move of her life, Sarah can’t help but wonder if Seaside Blooms could be a new beginning for love too?

A warm, uplifting novel of love, friendship and destiny from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is a new, revised and updated edition of a novel previously published as Searching For Steven.

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New Beginnings at Seaside BloomsAudio Extract

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – Extract

It was now after half six. Sod it! I couldn’t do this anymore.

* To Jason

This is killing me! Where are you taking me? I’m all ready and awaiting my instructions! Please tell me you haven’t forgotten xx

I hoped that reading my birthday cards again would distract me. It didn’t. A little voice in my head kept telling me he had forgotten and Clare’s joke about McDonald’s or my local might not be far from the truth. Perhaps he was frantically phoning round restaurants right now and that’s why he hadn’t been in touch. Another text arrived and, finally, it was from him. Please don’t say McDonald’s

* From Jason

South Kensington Tube Station. 1915hrs. Table booked for 1930hrs xx

Butterflies stirred in my stomach. Oh my God! South Kensington. Could it be…?

I hastily shoved my phone in my bag, pulled on my coat and left the flat, legs shaking as I strode towards the tube station. It was just a coincidence. There were hundreds of restaurants in South Kensington and we could be going to any of them. With Jason’s track record, it could be McDonald’s. But what if…?

He’d taken me to Luigi’s to celebrate me moving down to London shortly after we started seeing each other. During dessert, the man on the table next to us proposed to his girlfriend. It was such a moving and romantic moment and, on the way home, Jason said that he could imagine proposing there too. But that didn’t mean he’d booked a table there tonight to propose to me, did it?

When I reached South Kensington tube station, it took all my willpower to stand still on the escalator when all I wanted to do was to shove past the travellers, run up the steps, and skip across the concourse screaming, ‘Yes, Jason, I will marry you.’

I spotted him by one of the exits. My breath caught as I saw what he was wearing. Classically tall, dark, and handsome, he looked particularly hot in the three-piece suit he’d bought for his brother’s wedding last summer. After his firefighter uniform, it was my favourite outfit on him. Although to be perfectly honest, with a toned body like his, I preferred no clothes at all.

‘Happy birthday.’ He bent down and gave me a soft kiss. I breathed in his musky scent and those butterflies went crazy. ‘You look good.’

‘Thank you.’ I whipped open my coat like a flasher, revealing the LBD I’d agonised over wearing for fear I’d be overdressed.

He wolf-whistled and I flushed from head to toe. ‘I approve. Although you may be a little over-dressed for what I have planned later tonight.’

I flushed again and Jason laughed as he took my hand in his. ‘Shall we?’

‘Where are we going?’ I tried to sound casual but failed abysmally. Please say Luigi’s. Please.

He winked at me, grinning widely. ‘It’s a surprise.’

Oh my God!

It could only have been three minutes, but I swear that walk felt like an hour. My sweaty hand kept slipping from his, I stumbled several times and I even hiccupped, causing Jason to ask if I’d been on the wine before leaving the flat.

The Italian flag and deep green canopy of Luigi’s loomed ahead of us. My breathing quickened and I mentally prepared myself: must not look gutted if we walk past, must look happy wherever he takes me.

But we didn’t walk past. We stopped. We went in. He gave his name and we were led to a table towards the back where a bucket of champagne on ice was waiting for us. Champagne. Proper Champagne. Jason always said that supermarket own-label Cava was overpriced. Which could only mean… Oh. My. God!

I put my glass of champagne down as Jason pushed the candle aside and reached for my hand across the table a few minutes later.

‘You really do look gorgeous tonight,’ he said.

‘You don’t scrub up too badly yourself,’ I whispered, barely able to speak for anticipation of what was coming.

His dark eyes twinkled as he gazed at me over the table. ‘Thank you. I thought I should make a special effort. It’s a special occasion, after all.’

Eeeeeeekkkkk!

‘I haven’t given you your birthday present yet.’

WHEN IT FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING IS AGAINST YOU, SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A LITTLE BIT OF HOPE…

Married to her childhood sweetheart for over twelve years, Elise feels like starting a family is the next natural step. However, her husband, Gary, has other ideas…

Suddenly single, Elise is completely heartbroken and struggling to start over on her own. But when she’s enlisted to be bridesmaid to her best friend, Sarah, she has to put on a brave face, put her own feelings aside and find a way to get over Gary. Fast.

So when she meets handsome, recently-divorced, Daniel, she thinks he could be just what she needs. But why can’t she shake the feeling that he must be too good to be true?

Will she ever be able to take that leap and trust again?

An uplifting read of love, loss and finding yourself from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

This book was previously published as Getting Over Gary

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Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove Audio Extract

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove – Extract

‘I have exciting news,’ Jess announced when we’d placed our food orders. ‘Bay Brides called earlier and the bridesmaid dresses are ready early. They’ll be in on Wednesday so I’ve made an appointment for a fitting a week tomorrow at two. Are you free?’

I grinned at my younger sister – a shorter, slimmer version of myself. ‘How exciting!’

‘We don’t have any plans for next Saturday, do we?’ I asked, turning to face Gary.

‘I don’t know about you, but I’ll be going into the surgery.’

I frowned. ‘I thought you were going in tomorrow.’

‘I’m doing both. Maybe the one after too.’

It was on the tip of my tongue to say, ‘But we always spend weekends together,’ but what was the point? I had two choices: confront Gary and spoil the whole evening or ignore him and focus on my little sister’s news. Forcing a bright smile, I said, ‘Two’s perfect. Can Izzy and Megan make it?’ The wedding was less than three months away on the first Saturday in August. I was chief bridesmaid, supported by Jess’s best friend, Izzy, and Izzy’s four-year-old daughter, Megan.

Jess nodded. ‘I texted Izzy earlier. They’ve got no plans.’

‘Brilliant. Do you know when your dress will be ready?’

‘Four weeks later. I managed to order a bigger size just in time and I’m desperately hoping it will still fit on the day.’

I frowned. ‘Why would you need a bigger size? You haven’t put on weight, have you?’

Jess and Lee exchanged big grins.

‘She hasn’t,’ Lee said. ‘Well, not yet anyway…’

I gasped as realisation hit. ‘Oh my goodness! Are you saying…?’

‘We had our twelve-week scan this afternoon and everything’s looking good. In fact, it’s looking doubly good.’

I gasped again and clapped my hand over my mouth. ‘Twins?’

Jess nodded and I let out a little squeal as I leapt up and dashed round the table to hug them both.

‘Congratulations you two,’ Gary said. ‘Wow! Twins? Two kids? That’s some news!’ He stood up, shook Lee’s hand and kissed Jess on the cheek.

‘I can’t believe it!’ I sat down again. ‘My baby sister’s having her own babies, which means I’m going to be an auntie. I’m so excited for you both. Twins? That’s so amazing. And that’s cause for celebration.’ I signalled a waiter and ordered a round of drinks including a very large glass of wine for myself, then giggled as I added, ‘Make that two. One per baby.’


*Winner of Chill With a Book Book of the Year 2019 Award as Dreaming About Daran*

FOR CLARE O’CONNELL, HOME IS WHERE THE HEART ACHES…

Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:
1. Don’t talk about Ireland
2. Don’t think about Ireland
3. Don’t go to Ireland
4. Don’t let anyone in

And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future is all that counts, isn’t it?

However Clare is about to realise that you can run from the past, but you can’t always hide from it…

When her boss insists she travels to Ireland for work, Clare finds herself drawn back to the village of Ballykielty – the home of her family, and the home of her secrets. The one place where vowed never to return to again…

With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Will Clare stick to rule number four?

Can she be brave and face up to her family and the demons of her past?

An emotional novel of family, friendship and dealing with your past from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

This book was previously published as Dreaming About Daran.

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Coming Home To Seashell CottageAudio Extract

Coming Home To Seashell Cottage – Extract

‘Your friend Pete was right,’ I said when the closing credits started rolling. ‘Cracking film. What did you think?’

‘I agree. The king thing was a spooky coincidence, don’t you think?’

In the film, best friends Edmond and Fernand exchange a chess king when one of them overcomes a challenge, to symbolise who is ‘king of the moment’.

I nodded towards the king nestled in his fruit bowl. ‘Did you plant it there knowing it was in the film?’

Ben shook his head. ‘Honestly, I’ve never seen the film or read the book so I didn’t know about the chess piece. I genuinely found that bad boy sitting on my doorstep, just like I told you.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Have you ever known me to lie?’

He made a good point. He was one of the most honest people I knew, although, unlike me, he was tactful with his honesty. Generous to a fault, ridiculously considerate of others and gifted in spades with patience, Ben definitely deserved his nickname of ‘Saint Ben’. By contrast, I could be pretty blunt and to the point, not particularly patient and quite selfish. I was lucky he only called me ‘Irish’ because I probably deserved something a little less affectionate.

‘Tell you what we can do.’ He grinned at me, wrinkled his nose in a clear act of mischief, then lifted the king out of the fruit bowl. Picking up a chilli pepper discarded from his curry in his other hand he said, ‘If you eat the whole chilli, you win the king.’

I was about to refuse his stupid challenge, but then he added, ‘I bet you can’t do it.’

Defiantly, I picked up the chilli and shoved it in my mouth. Tears streamed down my face, my nose ran like a tap and my head felt as if it were about to explode. But that king was going to be mine. Nobody told me what I could and couldn’t do and I would come out on top whenever challenged. Always.

‘Oh my God! I can’t believe you just did that.’ Ben handed me a box of tissues. ‘Serious respect to you, Irish.’

I gasped for breath and rasped, ‘Wait till I tell your sister what a mean boy you are.’

He laughed. ‘You’re king of the moment, Irish. He’s all yours.’

And so it began.

Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels including Searching for Steven which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay.  Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Friendship, New Adult Romance, Romance

Game Changer Lasairiona E. McMaster @QueenofFireLas #AJWilliams #BlogTour #Romance #Friendship #NewAdult #Relationships @rararesources #RachelsRandomTours #BookPromo

AJ Williams wasn’t supposed to fall in love with a girl on the internet. But he did.

Other than living over five thousand miles away in Northern Ireland, Lisa Millar is seemingly his perfect match. AJ can’t quite believe his luck, not only is she beautiful, but she has an appreciation for both music and hockey – two of his favorite things.

Surprised by Lisa turning up unannounced in Alabama, AJ is under pressure to deal with the issue at hand. Should he risk losing her, come clean and tell her the truth? Or should he try to keep his secret under wraps?

Will true love win out? Or will AJ’s secret be too much for Lisa to bear?

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Lasairiona McMaster

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

The New Guy Kathryn Freeman #Book #promo @KathrynFreeman1 @rararesources #RomCom #Forbidden #Romance #work #publicationday #RachelsRandomResources #TheNewGuy

Sam Huxton doesn’t do one-night stands, especially not with men she’s just met! But the hot guy at the bar was hard to resist and their one night together is one she’ll never forget.

But one night is all they share – no names, no numbers, just some much needed fun…

Until the same guy walks into Sam’s life the next day as her new employee.  Sam never mixes business with pleasure and makes it clear an office fling with Ryan is off-limits.  But after-hours…one thing can lead to another. Can Sam trust her heart and her business with the new guy?

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A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Excerpt, Extract, Historical Non Fiction

Eileen: The Making of George Orwell Sylvia Topp @sylviatopp @unbounders#Extract #BookSpotlight #nonfiction #biography #GeorgeOrwell #Eileen #RandomThingsTours @annecater

This is the story of George Orwell’s first wife, a woman who shaped, supported and even saved the life of one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers.

In 1934, Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s futuristic poem, ‘End of the Century, 1984′, was published. The next year, she would meet George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, at a party. “Now,’ he remarked that night, ‘that’s the kind of girl I would like to marry.’ Years later, Orwell would name his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in homage to the memory of Eileen, the woman who shaped his life and his art in ways that have never been acknowledged by history, until now.

From the time they spent in a tiny village tending goats and chickens, through the Spanish Civil War, the couple’s narrow escape from the destruction of their London flat during a German bombing raid, and their adoption of a baby boy, this is the first account of the Blairs’ nine-year marriage, up until Eileen’s untimely death in 1945. It is also a vivid picture of bohemianism, political engagement, and sexual freedom in the 1930s and ’40s. Through impressive depth of research, illustrated throughout with photos and images from the time, this captivating and inspiring biography offers a completely new perspective on Orwell himself, and most importantly tells the life story of an exceptional woman who has been unjustly overlooked.

The first account of this extraordinary woman offers a completely new perspective on one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers.

The book is built on original research supported by the Orwell Estate and Orwell Society, with all recent biographers of Orwell lauding the book. Peter Davison, the editor of the 20-volume set The Complete Works of George Orwell, provides a foreword.

For fans of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Vera: Mrs Nabokov by Stacy Schiff, Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox.

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#Eileen #GeorgeOrwell

Extract From Eileen : Chapter 5: A WHIRLWIND COURTSHIP

Eileen and Orwell had both spent years deliberately disregarding expected conventions, and they liked each other immediately. Just her name, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, was delightful. Gwen, who had married Eileen’s brother, joked that his surname had been one of his main attractions. And their adopted daughter, Catherine, regretted having to give up the O’Shaughnessy name when she got married.5 Although Eileen grew up under her mother’s Church of England beliefs, her Irish Catholic father had a stronger influence on her personality. Besides inheriting his good looks, she had an Irish sense of playfulness. As Lydia noted, “One could never be certain whether she was being serious or facetious…. Her Irishness was revealed most clearly in the ease with which [rather outlandish] remarks rolled off her tongue … with a slant and a degree of whimsicality all her own.”  Orwell shared and appreciated her wry sense of humor. As one friend summed it up, “Orwell’s genuine streak of old-fashioned conventionality sometimes bordered on whimsy and you could not always be quite certain if he was serious or not.” 7

Eileen and Orwell spent the evening in earnest conversation. He had his three published novels to brag about, although he was still poor enough at 31 to be working part-time in a bookshop. And she had many Oxford tales to charm him with, including her in-depth knowledge of Chaucer, whom Orwell loved, as well as her interactions with Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, both of whom had become well-known since their time as her tutors. Their evening together was also punctuated with joyous laughter because, as Eileen told a friend, she was “rather drunk, behaving my worst, very rowdy.”  As Eileen revealed much later, in those early years she had a capacity for large amounts of alcohol, regularly drinking “four glasses of sherry, half a bottle of claret and some brandy.” Perhaps she was the first woman Orwell had met who really appreciated his dry wit. Her self-described party personality shows clearly the charm she could turn on with ease, and Orwell was love struck immediately.

When the party ended and he had returned from walking the guests down the hill to nearby buses and trains, Orwell excitedly told Rosalind, “Now that is the kind of girl I would like to marry!” Rosalind, who perhaps had this partnership in mind when she invited Eileen, “was delighted to hear this, as [she,] too, felt they had much to give each other.” She described Eileen as “a very attractive, very feminine Irish woman, with lively interests and [a] gay, infectious laugh.” Orwell was thrilled when Rosalind suggested inviting Eileen to dinner the next time she saw her at school.

At their next class together, Eileen told Rosalind that she had found Orwell “very interesting.”  She was already reading Burmese Days, Orwell’s second book, most likely at his suggestion. His third book, A Clergyman’s Daughter, had been published a few months earlier, and although it had received more favorable reviews than he expected, Orwell was quite critical of it himself, while Down and Out in Paris and London, his first book, was a wild, original creation that he perhaps feared Eileen might not appreciate. Burmese Days had recently been published in America, though not yet in England, and Orwell had received very positive reviews for it. Geoffrey Gorer—a social anthropologist who would later become a close friend of the couple’s—wrote, “It seems to me an absolutely admirable statement of fact told as vividly and with as little bitterness as possible.” And Orwell’s Eton classmate Cyril Connolly recommended it “to anyone who enjoys a pate of efficient indignation, graphic description, excellent narrative, excitement, and irony tempered with vitriol.”  As she read this novel, Eileen realized right away that she had met a man with the potential of becoming a great writer.

Eileen agreed to meet Orwell again, and Rosalind remembered that “our small dinner-party two days after was a very gay affair. I left them quite soon (after the meal) in my sitting-room and went out to near-by friends.”  Left alone, as Rosalind had so wisely allowed, Eileen and Orwell continued to explore their initial intrigue with each other. Orwell realized that at last he’d met a woman who was his intellectual equal, perhaps the most intelligent woman he would ever know, a woman who had actually gone to Oxford while he had “wasted” those years as a policeman in Burma. She had the education and background to be able to take him and his writing as seriously as he did, one of his most important requirements in a wife.

Eileen was glad to have found a man who was not intimidated by her intelligence, a man with as complicated a past as her own. As one of her friends remembered, “She had the kind of mind that was always grinding. She was interested in most things, but especially in people.”  And of course Orwell also had an exceedingly “grinding” kind of mind. Eileen was just finishing her first year toward an M.A. in psychology, and the sometimes gloomy Orwell would have presented an intriguing personality to explore. She shared his humorous, skeptical approach to the inanities of the world, and they both loved twisting language in teasing ways. Although he was often deliberately provocative, Eileen was capable of countering with her own quips when his exaggerations were too extreme, and he enjoyed her attempts to outwit him. Her friends thought she understood people better than Orwell did, and had an equal and ubiquitous range of interests.

Sylvia Topp

Sylvia Topp has worked in publishing since college, starting as a copy editor on medical journals, then moving to freelance editing at major literary publishing houses. She was the long-time wife and partner of Tuli Kupferberg, a Beat poet who later was a co-founder, in 1964, of the Fugs, a legendary rock and roll band. Together Sylvia and Tuli wrote, edited, and designed over thirty books and magazines, including As They Were, 1001 Ways to Live Without Working, and Yeah! magazine. Sylvia joined the staff at The Soho Weekly News and later The Village Voice, before finishing her publishing career at Vanity Fair. Eileen is her first book. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.

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Eileen: The Making of GEORGE ORWELL -SYLVIA TOPP.

PRAISE

‘One cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of Eileen O’Shaughnessy in the life of Eric Blair, and hence of George Orwell. Her influence upon him was profound, in his life and his work. It’s now splendid to have her biography’

Peter Stansky, co-author of Orwell: The Transformation

A most interesting biography … it has not only brought Eileen in from the shadows but has given her full credit for her contributions to Orwell’s late great novels. An excellent read, especially rewarding for Orwell scholars’

Gordon Bowker author of George Orwell

Eileen O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s first wife, has always been something of a black hole at the centre of Orwell Studies. Sylvia Topp’s painstaking researches have breathed life into this enigmatic figure, and all Orwell fans owe her a huge debt of gratitude’

D. J. Taylor, author of George Orwell: The Life