Friday, November 21, 2014

Ten Questions from Tara: Interview with Lori Jones

Welcome. You’re here to promote The Beauty of a Second Chance, a Chick Lit. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story (or series)? How did it come to you?

Readers, here's a blurb:
The Beauty of a Second Chance: The Sequel to Growing Up BeautifulSixteen years after their European adventure, ex-fashion models Star, Joanne and Casey reunite over lunch and realize they have a lot to talk about.

On Star’s wedding day, her mother-in-law drops a bomb that threatens her marriage and future security. Joanne becomes a reluctant volunteer out to protect a park against development while hesitant to lower her guard for love. Casey struggles to find a job while trying to be her daughter’s friend instead of enemy, and wonders how she can get her son’s Little League coach to play fair.

Now, older and wiser, will these three women use this second chance at friendship to help one another find success and happiness.

The inspiration behind The Beauty of a Second chance came from witnessing a child’s heartache, a teenager’s angst, and a community divided over conflicting values. Writing about situations that happen everywhere on a daily basis gave me the opportunity to place Star, Joanne and Casey right in the middle of the action and give them a second chance to overcome difficult obstacles and find happiness in life.

We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine(s) strong.

Star, Joanne and Casey are already strong women. Their difficulties stem from making decisions based on painful memories and fearful thoughts instead of from their heart. It is only when all three are faced with the loss of love that the swords are drawn and they take on risks that could end up in an all-or-nothing scenario.
Do you see any of yourself in her?

Yes. A little bit of my personality resides in all three. I have experienced the fierce love of a mother, the emotional pull of a dependent daughter seeking independence, and harsh judgment from others.

Was there any particular part of this story that was the hardest for you to write? Tell me why.

Writing is pure joy for me except for the love scenes. When I write at my local library, I find myself peeking over my shoulder to make sure no one is behind me, reading what I’m typing.

LOL. I've done that myself. 

What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search? 

One of the story lines deals with a wealthy individual that tried to build a private office on public parkland. My research came from throwing myself 100% into a similar real-life situation. Being an integral part of the action gave me more information than I could incorporate into the story. I added just enough information to let readers decide on which side of the debate they would stand on.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something about a particular subject/person, ponder a point?

The points to ponder in The Beauty of a Second Chance deal with youth sports, land conservancy, and the ‘dreaded’ mother-in-law. My man goal when I write is to entertain, however, if readers walk in the shoes of my characters and finish the story contemplating a different perspective; that is a bonus.

Your book takes place in Malibu. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this town/country?

Stand anywhere on the beach and gaze out over the vast ocean and blue sky, listen to the crashing waves and call of seagulls. It is one of Mother Nature’s best shows.

Moving on to personal things...if you could time travel to absolute any time and place in history, where and when would you go and what is it that draws you to this time period? What would you do whilst there?

I would love to go back to Paris in the 1920’s and have a conversation with Degas, Dali, and Picasso and many of the other great artists before they were famous. As a writer I think it would be fascinating to know their personalities instead of just their artwork. I’d ask them how old they were when they first picked up a brush, and what career they would they fall back on if they didn’t make it painting.

What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?
I can’t think of anything except to keep on doing what I’ve been doing; loving my family, fighting for causes I believe in, volunteering in my community, traveling, and writing.

I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets? If so, tell me about them and do provide pictures.

I currently have three cats. They make me laugh almost everyday, and keep me company when I write. What’s not to love about them!

Thanks, Lori, for joining us today and sharing your book, cats, and interests.


About Lori:

I wrote my first book in elementary school with a #2 pencil, graduated high school, fell in love a few times, debated college but ended up traveling abroad for six years, returned to America and went to college, had two amazing sons, accumulated a mountain of a journals along the way & now devote most of my time to writing about the adventures I lived, laughed and cried through.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Secrets of a Charmed Life: Powerfully Moving, Riveting, Thought-Evoking Historical Drama

Secrets of a Charmed LifeWhat good is remembering an event if you don't remember how it made you feel. How it impacted others. How it made them feel. You would learn nothing and neither would anyone else.

I love being shocked, being forced to think, and becoming completely engrossed in someone else's story. This book certainly didn't disappoint. I was sucked in by the engaging narrative. I was left in suspense as to the ending. I was forced to think hard on the issue it tackles: blame. Notably blaming oneself for things out of one's control.

And this was a good lesson for me right now.

The lowdown: It's London, WWII; the actual focus is what happens during the Blitz. Though the story delves into the before and after, it's about how the Blitz completely changed the course of people's lives: two sisters, their mother, an "aunt", and more. Hardly a single soul went unaffected. It's about family being torn apart and while you could point the finger at so-and-so for having done this and so-and-so for not having done that, in the end, the blame lies with war itself.

It's about blame, beating one self up, and there's a side story about being forced to grow up before one's time. Being forced to be a mother when one isn't. Taking on more responsibility than one is ready for. So many lessons wrapped up in these pages.

And there's a mystery too, one you can never possibly figure out till the very end. Yet we can make assumptions. It's like a guessing game. In the end I was blown away by how many people were involved and didn't even realize it.

Imagine living that way for real. What happened to her? Did she die? Did someone find her? Was it my fault? Imagine thinking that for twenty years, and you'll be in Emmy's shoes. I love the way this story came together; the brides dresses, the umbrellas, the names. I felt for both heroines. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. And because so much of this tale could be considered spoilers, I hesitate to write paragraphs explaining what happens. This is one you need to read for yourself. You won't regret it.  In the end, I was amazed at how so many people were involved, at who made errors in judgement and didn't realize what they were doing.

The writing is stellar and engrossing. Not too much of anything; not too little. The modern story is very minimal and you only need it to tie things together, but this didn't bother me at all. It worked well. There wasn't enough of it to distract me from the history and lesson and the story of mothers and daughters and sisters within the pages. And the final lesson (at least to me): the closest you get to a "charmed" life is allowing yourself to be happy.

I received this via Goodreads Firstreads.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Day of Fire: Various Authors Band Together to Tell the Fiery Tale of Pompeii

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Please join historical novelists Vicky Alvear Shecter, Sophie Perinot, Ben Kane, Kate Quinn, E. Knight, and Stephanie Dray as they tour the blogosphere for A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, from October 27-December 5 with HF Virtual Book Tours, and enter to win a copy!

01_A Day of Fire CoverPompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets.

An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.

An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.

A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.

A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.

A priestess and a whore seek resurrection and redemption as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?


The first story...I was afraid I would have to take Ms. Moran's advice in the foreword and skip to the next. The premise given on the back cover is a simple sentence. "A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets." And considering the story opens with a boy excited about visiting a tavern wench for some skin action, you can see why I was reluctant. Unless you're into erotica.

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised and glad I didn't skip it. The author is a genius for making us think one thing and yet presenting us with another. Just who has the dirty minds, eh? Regardless, this story was very enjoyable, as see that what separates the men from the boys has nothing to do with tavern wenches or pleasures of the flesh. It's honor and integrity.

The second story follows a young girl dreading her upcoming marriage to a "boring", old man. There's a similar moral here about what makes a man a true man, a man worth desiring. It has nothing to do with looks or sweet words, but will he protect and respect you?

The third was just too much testosterone for me. But the fourth...the fourth was probably my favorite. It follows a depressed senator who sees this as his chance to die, but a fiery horsewoman comes to his rescue in more ways than one. I loved both characters and the story made me chuckle a few times despite the seriousness of their situation. This was absolutely superb writing from Kate Quinn. And the way the woman and the man team up to save each other...especially the determination of the woman just wowed me. I also loved how she wanted so badly to save someone. The moral in this...there's always something to live for.

The last two stories, I'm hard pressed to come up with a moral. Naturally, there were not really many survivors of Pompeii. An earthquake was followed by the raining of ash and the eruption of a volcano. (That's the extent of my knowledge.) Some got away, but many of them were buried alive or caught in the black river. Needless to say, there were some unhappy endings. The story about the pregnant woman was bittersweet and sad. Extremely well written. I was torn about this one. It is tragic, romantic, and something else I can't find the word for. I thought it crazy that the woman finally gets a say in her life and it's such a hard choice to make.

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About the Authors

Stephanie Dray
STEPHANIE DRAY is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical Nile series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt's ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Learn more at

Ben KaneBEN KANE worked as a veterinarian for sixteen years, but his love of ancient history and historical fiction drew him to write fast-paced novels about Roman soldiers, generals and gladiators. Irish by nationality but UK-based, he is the author of seven books, the last five of which have been Sunday Times top ten bestsellers.Ben’s books have been translated into ten languages. In 2013, Ben walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall with two other authors, for charity; he did so in full Roman military kit, including hobnailed boots. He repeated the madness in 2014, over 130 miles in Italy. Over $50,000 has been raised with these two efforts. Learn more at

Eliza KnightE. KNIGHT is an award-winning, indie national best-selling author historical fiction. Under the name, Eliza Knight she writes historical romance and time-travel. Her debut historical fiction novel, MY LADY VIPER, has received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Historical Novel Society 2015 Annual Indie Award. She regularly presents on writing panels and was named Romance Writer’s of America’s 2013 PRO Mentor of the Year. Eliza lives in Maryland atop a small mountain with a knight, three princesses and a very naughty puppy. For more information, visit Eliza at

Sophie PerinotSOPHIE PERINOT is the author of the acclaimed debut, The Sister Queens, which weaves the story of medieval sisters Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence who became queens of France and England respectively. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. A long-time member of the Historical Novel Society, she has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences, serving as a panelist at the most recent. When she is not visiting corners of the past, Sophie lives in Great Falls, VA. Learn more at

Kate QuinnKATE QUINN is the national bestselling author of the Empress of Rome novels, which have been variously translated into thirteen different languages. She first got hooked on Roman history while watching "I, Claudius" at the age of seven, and wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome. She and her husband now live in Maryland with an imperious black dog named Caesar. Learn more at

Vicky Alvear ShecterVICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the award-winning author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. The LA Times called Cleopatra’s Moon--set in Rome and Egypt--"magical" and "impressive." Publisher’s Weekly said it was "fascinating" and "highly memorable." Her young adult novel of Pompeii, Curses and Smoke (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic), released in June 2014. She has two other upcoming books for younger readers, Anubis Speaks! and Hades Speaks! Vicky is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. Learn more at


To enter to win this beautiful one-of-a-kind Roman style Necklace (18") and Earring set, hand-crafted with real carnelion, and inspired by jewelry of the ancient world, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 6th and notified via email.

Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Confidant (Lost Locket of Lahari) by Janna Jennings

The Confidant (Lost Locket of Lahari)I'm sure the author is sick of reading this, but I have to agree with previous reviewers of this title. There's far too much crammed into so few pages. It could have been a great full-length novel but makes a rushed novella. And while I realize this was originally part of a short story in an anthology, why not make it longer when you make it a stand alone?

That's not to say I didn't like it. It's an interesting tale, really. It's WWII and this young girl's mother is abducted by the Japanese in Manila. Her mother has been working with the resistance. Before she's hauled away, the mother hands over a locket containing data that really needs to get into the Allies' hands. So the heroine rushes off to the Allies, with the Japanese hot on her heels because they want the daughter in order to torture information from the mother.

It's nonstop action. Prisons, poison, dead soldiers, torture, chases, but what I didn't care for was how implausible many things are. Until the end, everything was just too easy for the heroine. I had a hard time believing some things, like Americans (including the heroine) can just don Japanese uniforms and go easily through checkpoints with their bad accents.

We go through more checkpoints with unconcerned soldiers who perform their duties, never looking in the back of the truck.


And she too easily escapes prison the first time. While the story mentions more than once that soldiers tend to underestimate females, I just didn't buy they were underestimating her this much, especially in light of their knowledge of her mother.

So not bad. It's short, quick, implausible, but it's entertaining and you can't help but like the brave heroine.

I received this via Netgalley.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ten Questions From Tara: Interview with Linda Lee Graham, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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Publication Date: June 16, 2014
Repository Press, LLC
eBook; 570 pages
Series: Voices Series
Genre: Romantic Historical Suspense

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02_Voices EchoThe third book in the VOICES series, VOICES ECHO stands alone as a riveting depiction of both the beauty of 18th-century Jamaica and the horrors of plantation life in the British West Indies.

When Albert Ross sailed to Jamaica months after their wedding, Rhiannon Ross believed he'd abandoned her for the sanctuary of his West Indies plantation and complacent mulatta mistress. Not one to live life in limbo, Rhiannon has followed in a bid to secure the funds necessary to ensure her financial independence and position as his lawful wife, and to quell her growing attraction to her unsuitable American advisor, Liam Brock.

Determined to put the enticing Mrs. Ross out of his mind, Liam Brock accepts an assignment to escort a young heiress to her father's Jamaican estate. Convinced his and Rhiannon's ships have crossed paths, he is stunned to learn Rhiannon is still with her husband, and shocked when he finds her isolated and frightened--a shell of the vibrant woman who still fills his dreams. He begins to suspect that beneath the exotic beauty of an island teeming with vitality, there beats a sinister pulse.

As evidence of smuggling and dark magic are uncovered, Rhiannon realizes that not only is her plantation in danger, but the lives of those she holds dearest are at stake. Though she struggles to hide her feelings for Liam, she cannot bear the thought of him coming to harm because of her. As greed on the island evolves into violence and violence into murder, Liam and Rhiannon find themselves in the midst of a deadly intrigue. Both must decide how far they will go in the name of protecting the other, and how much they will sacrifice to attain a future neither thought possible.


Welcome. You’re here to promote Voices Echo, a romantic historical novel. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story (or series)? How did it come to you?

Linda: Thanks for having me, Tara! The inspiration for the Voices series came while I was researching 18th-century Philadelphia for another purpose. Surprisingly, I found America’s political and social climate fascinating. Curious, I read more to discover what an ordinary person’s life would be like at that time. I’d always thought American history dull in comparison to Europe’s. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Voices Echo takes place in another—a more exotic—setting in the Americas. I wanted something different for Liam and Rhiannon’s story, something that would challenge their individual strengths and flaws. Jamaica offered all that and more. I’m not sure their relationship could have progressed in a tamer setting.

We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine strong.

Having lost her mother at a young age, Rhiannon grew up managing her father’s household, acting his hostess, and believing her educated opinions carried as much weight as a man’s. She also believed that if she maintained control, she could script her life according to plan and take minimal risks in the process.

The harsh reality of plantation life in a sugar colony set her in a tailspin, and she realized total control was an illusion. She could have put the blinders on and soldiered on, or she could have curled into a fetal position with a bottle of rum. For a time, she did both. Eventually, however, she summoned the strength to step back, question, and react.

Do you see any of yourself in her?

In some ways. The control ‘issue’ is one reason I love writing these stories. The story world is the only thing I can truly control, start to finish.

What makes her sexy?

She’s self-assured, compassionate, intelligent, and can hold her own in any social setting. These qualities make her doubt her allure, however, as she has learned some men feel threatened by a woman’s competence.

Where do you see your heroine ten years from now? What will she be? What do you predict she’ll accomplish?

While the Voices series wasn’t written as young adult fiction, it may interest YA readers who enjoy learning history by way of a story. The young characters are confronted by many of the same difficulties young people face today.

Rhiannon is twenty years old in Voices Echo. She’s headstrong, focused on her own perspective, and slowly coming to terms with her vulnerability and the realization she doesn’t have the answer to everything. She still has many lessons to learn, and because she is young and ambitious, she learns many of them the hard way – just as most of us do in early adulthood.

By the time Rhiannon’s thirty, I predict she’ll achieve her goal of financial independence and have made a success of her new inn. And if she’s as smart as she thinks she is, she’ll marry Liam Brock when he asks her.

What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search? (Perhaps something you had no need to put in the book but stayed in your mind nevertheless?)

I read a lot of histories—some written in the 1700s and some written as recently as the last decade. I also read period newspapers. I was reminded again and again of the United States’ and Jamaica’s shared colonial history. Many American colonists had family and business connections in Jamaica, making the island seem somehow closer to America in the 18th century than it is even in today’s jet age.

I read period diaries as well. Man’s inhumanity to man was often graphically depicted, and while not unexpected, it never failed to surprise and disappoint.

And finally, I visited Jamaica—its beaches, its interior, and its great houses. Pictures of the trip are included on Voices Echo’s Pinterest board.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something, ponder a point?

I suppose I hope they’ll ponder many things, as Rhiannon was forced to do. Nothing worked out as she’d planned, yet she kept moving forward. She was forced to reexamine and question many of her preconceived notions about others, and she came to realize no amount of planning could guarantee life would progress as she thought it should.

Now let’s talk about your hero. What draws the heroine to him?

Liam Brock is elusive, intelligent, competent, passionate, and a steadfast friend. Born illegitimate and orphaned at an early age, he at times lacks confidence, certain his birth makes him not quite “good enough.”

At six-foot one, with ink-black hair and dark blue eyes, he’s irresistibly sexy—and knows it. Yet, because of his background, he harbors doubt a woman of Rhiannon’s class and intelligence might be attracted to him.

Rhiannon, on the other hand, would rather he weren’t so attractive. His appeal to women makes her doubt he could ever commit to just one. She craves certainty that if she gives him her heart, he’ll never hurt her. Liam interprets her reluctance to commit as resistance to his upbringing.

Your book takes place near Montego Bay, Jamaica. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this town/country?

Leave the resort and visit Jamaica’s interior. Some of the old great houses still exist, and the Cockpit Country has caves to explore and trails to hike.

A more personal question. What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?

I have a beautiful library paneled with floor-to-ceiling ornate oak shelves. To date I’ve read less than half its books. I’ve promised myself I’ll find the time to read them all before I die.

I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets?

I do. I have three spaniels—two Welsh Springers and one recently adopted Cocker. I hope the Cocker never learns his picture wasn’t included. He has enough self-esteem issues.

Thanks for visiting us today. Good luck with your book and give those cute dogs (the Cocker too) some hugs.

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About the Author

03_Linda Lee GrahamHistory and real-life narratives had always blended in Graham's imagination, particularly when she delved into the stories of her family's ancestors. Eventually the engaging voices of characters who might have lived emerged. Tracing paper trails quickly gave way to creating her own stories, and she hasn't looked back since.

For more information please visit Linda Lee Graham's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Joint Review: Titanic Survivors Join The Women's Suffrage Movement

Suffragette Autumn, Women’s Spring deals with two protagonists.  First, there’s Titanic crew member Ruby Martin surviving the sinking of the Titanic, and becoming involved in the women’s suffrage movement after her return to England.  Then there’s Alexander Nash, a rough and tumble working class Londoner who also survived the Titanic and unexpectedly becomes involved in the women’s suffrage movement as well.


To give you a taste of this book, here’s a quote:

“Her thoughts then drifted back to the sinking as she recalled holding back as the last lifeboat was about to be launched, a caricature of a poor working class girl who thought she was not good enough to be saved, allowing men to make decisions over whether she lived or died. It would not happen again. She was as good, though no better than, anyone else; any upper or middle class woman or any man.”  Suffragette Autumn, Women’s Spring by Ian Porter

Tara and Shomeret will be reviewing this novel jointly.  Tara received a free copy from Net Galley.  Shomeret purchased the novel on Amazon.  We have  different perspectives on this book.  Shomeret liked it a great deal better than Tara did.

Tara: The very beginning and thus the first half of this story grabbed me and sucked me in right from the get-go. The Titanic is sinking. The ship is chaos as women and children are rushed into lifeboats. Nash and Ruby meet and he literally throws her overboard into the arms of a crew member. She makes the very last boat.

And once the ship meets its tragic fate, there's frostbite to contend with, and the White Star Line trying to dishonestly bribe third-class victims.

Shomeret:  Perhaps this is a mis-perception.  It was my understanding that the money that White Star was issuing to all passengers that survived the Titanic’s sinking was intended as perfectly legal compensation for pain, suffering and losses. The scandal as I saw it, was that the compensation was so very inadequate for the lower class passengers.

Tara:  I guess because we were seeing it from Nash's POV, I interpreted it the way I felt he was?

Then there's Nash running around beating up White Star employees, and Ruby trying to get justice for her widowed mother... It's really entertaining stuff while at the same time showing readers what went down after the sinking. The drama and tragedy didn't stop once the boat reached the bottom of the ocean, even though its crew were officially unemployed and unpaid at that point.

I was riveted.

And strangely enough, I remained riveted until...Ruby joined the WSPU and began getting involved with the Pankhursts. This is nuts, I'll admit. That should have been my favorite part of the book, as into women's rights and history as I am, but to be frank, I found myself more appalled than inspired by the behavior of the women, by their militant antics.

Shomeret:  The second half involving the women’s suffrage movement in England was when I got invested in this novel.  My attention wandered in the first half involving the Titanic.  I had read about the Titanic disaster elsewhere, and this is not a particular interest of mine.  It’s only after I read the entire book that I understood how the two halves fit together.  They were both a record of how the lives of working class people weren’t valued in Victorian England.  Ruby went to Halifax to try to claim her crew member father’s body, and discovered that dead Titanic crew members had received a callous mass burial at sea.  Ruby’s mother received a heartbreakingly low widow’s pension. The White Star Line obviously didn’t care about their employees or their families. 

The tactics of the Pankhursts need to be placed in a larger context of protest movements in England going back centuries.   People had to die for the right to read the Bible in English, for example.  Before the Reformation, the Catholic Church didn’t want ordinary people to be able to read and interpret the Bible for themselves.  Today, we take it for granted. People died for what we consider very basic rights for workers in the struggle for labor unions.  Things like bathroom breaks and getting weekends off are the result of what was often a violent and bitter process.   I don’t endorse violence myself, but I understand why Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst thought it was needed.  Martyrs have historically gained a great deal of support for causes.    It shows people the seriousness of the cause if people are willing to die for it.  It’s important to point out that the WSPU didn’t want to kill anyone outside the movement.  The WSPU were verging on terrorism, but I think the main difference is that terrorists do want to kill innocent bystanders.  The WSPU wanted to make sure that they only attacked unoccupied buildings or locations.

Tara: What exactly do you prove by starving yourself?

Shomeret:  Fasting as a protest goes back to ancient times.  In ancient Ireland, it was called Troscadh.   The goal was to make people feel guilty. The original hunger strikers in Ireland would fast at the door of someone who had committed an injustice against them.  If the person who was the target of the hunger strike didn’t let the hunger striker into the house and ignored the protest, they were violating hospitality which was considered a terrible sin in ancient Ireland. If the target of the protest let it continue until the person died, they would be required to give restitution to the hunger striker’s family.  There’s a web page that provides some history and context for hunger striking in Ireland at  Hunger Strike History in Ireland.   Hunger striking is ineffective if the target of the protest has no conscience or doesn’t think that the death of the protester will have an impact on their reputation.   In this case, the government of England cared very much about suffragettes dying in prison. That’s why their reaction was force feeding.  They understood that martyrdom would increase the number of people who supported women’s suffrage, and they emphatically didn’t want any martyrs for the cause. 

Tara:  What do you prove by getting murdered by a horse and risking the life of the horse and jockey? By throwing rocks through shop windows? While I get it was attention-grabbing, I don't think that was the kind of attention they needed. After all, if you act like a hoodlum, you'll be treated like one.

Shomeret:   The woman who sought to disrupt a horse race to call attention to women’s suffrage had actually been expelled from WSPU for being too extreme.  Ian Porter shows that this particular action had negative impact and that there were a number of people who resigned from the WSPU because of their violence.  There was even a split within the Pankhurst family.  Sylvia Pankhurst disagreed with the tactics of her mother and sister.  Sylvia is the Pankhurst who is portrayed most sympathetically in this novel. I think that Ian Porter intends readers to side with Sylvia Pankhurst because she understood the importance of working class support for women’s suffrage and was a pacifist.

Tara: It was also at this point that we begin to see less of Nash. And despite his terrible dialogue--can't understand what he's saying half the time--I really liked his character. He's simple, honest, and gives what for.

Shomeret:  Nash or Nashey, as he was called by his friends, was a wonderful character.  The stereotype is that men like him don’t respect women.  Nash respected anyone who he thought was worthy of respect. That’s why he stood up for Ruby and for Sylvia Pankhurst.  He understood that Sylvia Pankhurst cared about working class people, and that she was working for a better future for everyone regardless of class or gender.

Tara:  I'm so with you on that, Shomeret. I appreciate Ian Porter portraying a man in such a light. Too often in stories tackling this issue, the men are the naysayers. It's good to be reminded that they weren't all against the movement.

Despite the fact that my mind began to drift as I found the WSPU actions distasteful, I did gain a lot from the history revealed about the Pankhurst family, how Sylvia stood for working women and Christabel looked down on them. I learned about the Cat & Mouse law, and also prison life for suffragettes.

The book has one thing really standing against it though, IMO. It's told in omnipresent POV, god-like. This type of narrative prevents the reader from really becoming a part of the tale and getting to the know the characters on a deeper level. And though I loved the Titanic part, in the end, I don't see how--besides the women and children thing and Nash and Ruby having to meet somehow--it ties into the last half. Also didn't see the point for Nash's previous "association" with the Ripper murderer. It didn't quite all tie together for me.

Shomeret:  There are pros and cons for each type of narration.  I agree that there can be less depth in character viewpoints when omniscient narrative is used, but I think that there is also the plus of being able to go beyond a single character's viewpoint.  You can give the reader a panoramic portrait of an entire era which is what I think Ian Porter did very successfully.

 As I said above, I thought the two halves tied together by being a working class perspective on both events.  Every time I see the Titanic in a movie or on TV,  there are always scenes of  wealthy passengers dancing just before the disaster.   The poorer people in steerage and the Titanic crew are invisible to history.  In the second half, Sylvia Pankhurst eventually hires Ruby to start a suffrage school.  Her mother and Christabel had no time for the uneducated.   Sylvia thought it was important to educate them, so that they would understand the issue and its significance for their own lives and their families. 

I think that the Ripper case was brought up to show both how tough Nash was, and that he cared about women that society considered outcasts.  Jack the Ripper killed prostitutes.  It’s a famous case, but the authorities probably didn’t investigate as thoroughly as they might have if the victims were wives or daughters of wealthy and prominent men.  His victims were socially invisible like the lower class victims in the Titanic disaster and the people that Sylvia Pankhurst made her priority.  For me, it does all tie together.  I thought this was a really excellent novel.

Tara: Good point. For some reason, I just couldn't see the tie, but you make an excellent case.

 Tara’s Rating:
 Shomeret’s Rating :