Oh, for the Hook of a Book! is pleased to review A White Room by Stephanie Carroll today as the launching point on the start of her summer virtual tour! After the review and details, please take part in a chance to win her debut novel as well as check out all the other tour dates in which she’ll be interviewed and also have some interesting guest articles. And if you’d comment at the end of the post by clicking “comment” by the bottom footer, Stephanie will be availabe to answer any questions or comments you have! Enjoy!
A White Room by Stephanie Carroll is a historical novel showcasing the plight of women in the early 20th Century, where desperation for women with dreams and desires outside of working in the home could blur the lines between sanity and insanity. Where men ruled the towns, the families, and the plight of every woman. Where high society women betrayed, humiliated, and bullied other women for wanting more than to launder, cook, and clean.
Emeline (Emma) Evans’ beloved father, who encouraged her dreams of helping people through nursing and had the funds to send her for an education, dies leaving her mother, her siblings, and her in sudden poverty. Not knowing how else to help her family, she pleads to a family once helped by her father to let her marry their son. Once they agree, she is thrown into an undesirable situation by the new husband, John Dorr, who moves her far away from any family to start a new isolated life in a gothic home that reeks of sorrow and desires unmet.
Coupled with the fact that the only human contact, besides their a few-days-a-week maid who helped her with the incessant chores, were the high society women in the church who ran committees for profit or invited her low rung young husband lawyer to dine at their homes where she inevitably made mistakes.
Society in the early 1900s didn’t approve of women working outside of the home…their duty was to lug and hand wash dishes, launder clothing by hand, starch, iron, cook, scrub floors on hands and knees, be a dutiful wife and have sons…even if they had an education. Emma knows some of these chores are important for daily life, but yet it seems she cleans for them to be dirty again, cooks what is consumed, and none feel meaningful and have a lasting effect on change or the world or community. She wants to do something important.
And here is where her dedication to herself, her desire to assist those in need, her intelligence and independence, almost drive her mad. Her intimidating eerie home starts messing with her mind. The furniture moves, reflections are odd, yellow eyes glow from the bushes. All this leads to her getting a straight ticket to a diagnosis of hysteria, which means she is confined even further to a bedroom with stark white walls in contrast to the dreary decor of the rest of the house. As the terrors of the home and her thoughts bring her to more paranoia, she flees the home and begins to defy her plight. She starts practicing her nursing, unlicensed and in secret, even as her husband’s law firm boss is hunting down these types of medical practitioners.
Will Emma’s rebellion cause her more pain and confine her further or redeem her from her life of madness and isolation? I highly recommend you read this book to find out. It’s an amazing story of a woman’s determination to use her intelligence and heart to help others, even at cost or danger to herself.
Carroll does a superb job of pulling the reader in from the start. We feel as if we are Emma, her thoughts and actions and worries so pervasive to our own minds. Just as the house seeps in to our bones and we feel it closing around us as Emma does, as we feel the creepiness making the hair on our arms raise, just as we ourselves might go mad out of anger for Emma’s life, a redeeming break happens. The light enters in and Emma shines.
I totally loved this book. It’s been described as being similar to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (where a woman becomes obsessed with the wallpaper bedroom), Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Though I concur that all that is true, I go further by being reminded of why the gothic writing work and home remind me of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables (he and I are descended from the same family tree and his work is a favorite of mine) and some of the works of V.C. Andrews, such as Flowers in the Attic. She gives us a gothic feel reminiscent of Daphne de Maurier’s works.
If you have an open mind, or want your eyes to be opened, especially in terms of women’s servitude of the mind that has been happening for ages, this book is a must read. Women’s rights activists like me will highly covet this book as it brings about the secrets of the Gilded Age and also shows how it still transcends into society today.
The content and intricacies of this book are excellent. I can’t give this book enough great accolades, so don’t hesitate, just read it! If you’re a fan of 20th Century culture, women’s issues, or eerie, haunting work, add this one to your list. Carroll is definitely an author not to be missed and I look forward to more permeating work from her in the future.
A White Room, Synopsis~
At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be “the angels of the house,” even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family.
John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from empty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house’s grip on her mind.
Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled.
A novel of madness and secrets, A White Room presents a fantastical glimpse into the forgotten cult of domesticity, where one’s own home could become a prison and a woman has to be willing to risk everything to be free.
Want a chance to WIN a copy of Stephanie Carroll’s A White Room? Sign-up for her Rafflecopter giveaway for an e-book version of this exceptional book! Good luck!
Win a copy of A White Room! Click Link Below~
Stephanie Carroll, Biography~
As a reporter and community editor, Stephanie Carroll earned first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and from the Nevada Press Association. Stephanie holds degrees in history and social science. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno.
Her dark and magical writing is inspired by the classic authors Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wallpaper), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights). A White Room is her debut novel.
Stephanie blogs and writes fiction in California, where her husband is stationed with the U.S. Navy. Her website is www.stephaniecarroll.net.
Connect with Stephanie Carroll~
“A novel of grit, independence, and determination … An intelligent story, well told.”
—Renée Thompson, author of The Plume Hunter and The Bridge at Valentine
“The best historical fiction makes you forget it’s fiction and forget it’s historical. Reminiscent of The Yellow Wallpaper … the thoughtful, intricate story Carroll relates is absolutely mesmerizing.”
—Eileen Walsh, Ph.D. U.S. Women’s History, University of San Diego
A White Room, Details~
by Stephanie Carroll
Soft Cover: $14.99
Publisher: Unhinged Books
The author photo was taken by Corey Ralston Photography and the cover was designed by Jenny Q of Historical Editorial and the original painting is Lady Astor by John Singer Sargent, 1909.
Available in Print and eBook
A White Room Blog Tour Dates
Weds, June 19 – Oh, For the Hook of a Book: Tour Kick-off!! Book Review and Giveaway
Thurs, June 20 – Hazel the Witch: Interview
Sat, June 22 – Reading in Ecuador:
Guest Post: How to Write Characters You Hate and Characters You Love to Hate
Mon, June 24 – The Bookish Dame: Interview
Thurs, June 27 – Momma Bears Book Blog:
Guest Post: The Story Behind Emeline’s Mental Distress
Tues, July 2 – I am Indeed: Guest Post: Historical Accuracy in Historical Fiction
Mon, July 8 – Bookfari: Interview and Giveaway
Tues, July 9 – Hazel the Witch:
Guest Post – How to Write the Inner Thoughts of a Crazy Person – Finding Meaning in Insanity?
Weds, July 10 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers: Review
Fri, July 12 – Lost to Books: Guest Post TBA and Giveaway
Mon, July 15 – A Writer of History: Guest Post: Writing an Era – Where to Begin?
Weds, July 17 – Michelle’s Romantic Tangle: Interview
Thurs, July 18 – Oh, For the Hook of a Book: Interview
Tues, July 23 – Unabridged Chick: Review and Giveaway
Thurs July 25 – Ravings and Ramblings: Review and Interview
Tues July 30 – Reading the Past: Giveaway and Guest Post:
Writing and Historical Thought – They Didn’t Think Like We Did 100 Years Ago
Sat, Aug. 3 – History and Women: Guest Post: Victorian Women and the Mystery of Sex
Be sure to check out all her interviews and guest articles throughout the summer. And stop back by Oh, for the Hook of a Book! for our interview with Stephanie!