Tag Archives: biographical historical fiction

Review: The General’s Women is a View into Eisenhower’s Relationships and WWII

02_The General%27s Women.jpg

The General’s Women by Susan Wittig Albert –

Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Persevero Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, & Audio

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Biographical

A compelling story of love, betrayal, and ambition by New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, The General’s Women tells the story of two women–Kay Summersby and Mamie Eisenhower—in love with the same man: General Dwight Eisenhower.

Set during the chaotic years of World War II, The General’s Women tells the story of the conflicted relationship between General Dwight Eisenhower and Kay Summersby, his Irish driver/aide, and the impact of that relationship on Mamie Eisenhower and her life in Washington during the war. Told from three alternating points of view (Kay’s, Ike’s, and Mamie’s), the novel charts the deepening of the relationship as Ike and Kay move from England (1942) to North Africa (1942-43) to England, France, and Germany before and after the Normandy landing (1944-45). At the end of the war, Ike is faced with the heart-wrenching choice between marrying Kay and a political future.

The story continues into the post-war years, as Ike (returning to Mamie) becomes Army Chief of Staff, president of Columbia University, Supreme Commander of NATO, and president of the United States. Kay, meanwhile, struggles to create a life and work of her own, writing two memoirs: the first (Eisenhower Was My Boss, 1948) about her war work with Ike; the second (Past Forgetting, 1976) about their love affair. An author’s note deals with the complicated question of the truth of Kay’s story, as it finally appears in the posthumously-published Past Forgetting.

The General’s Women, Review

Susan Wittig Albert’s books are always a pleasure to read and I had really enjoyed A Wilder Rose a few years back, which was about the writing of the Little House books. The General’s Women sounded interesting to me, since it featured the two loves of General Eisenhower and I love war time stories, which is the setting, so I dove in once I received my complimentary review copy in the mail.

Susan, of course, conducts such an enormous amount of research for her books and with this one it was obvious she endeavored no less utilizing real letters, diaries, news clippings from the characters. As readers, we learn a lot about Eisenhower, his part in World War II, and even some of the jobs of women in WWII, such as that of his love interest, fashion model Kay Summersby. She was assigned to drive General Eisenhower, but as even most scholars in the nation know, became one of his dearest confidantes about the war and not only his mistress. His wife, Maime, is back on the home front dealing with her own issues as well as his own, not to mention the gossip of Kay.

Susan pieces together the story, starting with when Kay was assigned to drive Eisenhower, and shows us the dynamic of these three. It’s not a tawdy love triangle she writes, however, but one fraught with dignity, respect for each character from history, and compassion. Sympathy for each of them grace the pages of her well-told story while giving Kay also her due from an historical perspective for all she helped Ike accomplish during the war.

Each other sub-character in this dramatic novel is intricately created and woven in as well as description and detail of time and place that immerses us as readers so we can have a full experience. Susan is known for memoirs and non-fiction as well, which lends itself to this book as the main characters are real people, but she also writes in a way that leads us through the pages enthralled in the story, far from something we might read only for information. It’s pleasurable to turn the pages, but yet we gain knowledge as we do not only about his relationship with the women in his life, but about his pursuits in WWII.

Historical fiction lovers, especially those interested in tales from WWII, should pick up this book for its dramatic intensity and realness. You’ll feel like you stepped off a plane into the time period and have a bird’s eye view. Thanks to Susan for giving us another gripping read. Highly recommended!

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Chapters IndieBound | iTunes | Kobo

Praise for The General’s Women

“The General’s Women is an engrossing and humanizing account of a love that blossomed during wartime and scandalized a nation… A historical novel that is sympathetic, satisfying, and heartbreaking.” —Foreword Reviews

“A mature, gripping emotional drama… The arc of this multifaceted novel follows the three main characters [Ike, Kay, and Mamie] and a host of secondary ones through the war and back into civilian life. At every point Albert smoothly incorporates an obviously vast amount of research into a tale of raw emotional conflict that can make for some wonderfully uncomfortable reading.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A brilliant work of biographical fiction that will fascinate WW2 history fans. It tells the remarkable true story of General Dwight D Eisenhower and his relationship with his Irish-born driver and secretary, Kay Summersby, and with his longtime wife Mamie. It faithfully shines a light on the hidden relationship of the man behind the D-Day landings and what he got up to while 3,000 miles from his wife. A must read!” —Kieron Wood, author of Ike’s Irish Lover: The Echo of A Sigh

Susan Wittig Albert, Biography

03_Susan Wittig Albert.jpgA NYT bestselling author, Susan’s books include biographical fiction (A Wilder Rose 2013, currently under film option; Loving Eleanor 2016; and The General’s Women 2017). Her mystery fiction includes the bestselling China Bayles mysteries; The Darling Dahlias; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and the Robin Paige Victorian/Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert. Working together, the Alberts have also written over 60 young adult novels.

Susan’s most recent nonfiction work includes two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her earlier nonfiction work includes Work of Her Own, a study of women who left their careers, and Writing From Life: Telling Your Soul’s Story, a guidebook for women memoirists. That book led to the founding of the Story Circle Network in 1997. She has edited two anthologies for the Story Circle Network: With Courage and Common Sense (2004) and What Wildness Is This: Women Write about the Southwest (2007). She currently serves as editor of StoryCircleBookReviews and co-coordinator of SCN’s Sarton Women’s Book Awards.

She and Bill live in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes, gardens, and tends a varying assortment of barnyard creatures.

For more information, please visit Susan Wittig Albert’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+GoodreadsAmazon, and BookBub.

04_The Generals Women_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Hashtags: #TheGeneralsWomenBlogTour #SusanWittigAlbert #historical #historicalfiction #histfic #blogtour #amreading
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @SusanWAlbert


Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Rebecca Kanner’s Sinners and the Sea is Captivating Story of Judgement, Humanity, and Noah’s Unknown Wife

I LOVE this cover!!!

I LOVE this cover!!!

Review + Giveaway (see below for link to enter)~

I absolutely loved Rebecca Kanner’s debut novel, Sinners and the Sea, when it published last year. I was thrilled to read it again for her virtual tour and offer my review as it was captivating and enthralling.  Rebecca is a seasoned writer of fiction and essays, even though this is her first book, so you have an amazing well-written novel that features lots of layers of thinking past  the initial premise of being a biography of biblical Noah’s wife.

Mentioned only briefly in the Bible, Noah’s wife was simply called wife, as well as throughout the book, as she had no name. She was born with a birthmark on her head which targeted her as a very evil demon who must possibly do all sorts of things like change into lizards, goats, and what not, or change other people into those, while killing and eating babies or whatever other outlandish stories masses of people come up with for those are slightly different. With a mark of the devil, and her mother having run away, the woman who would become Noah’s wife only has her father to protect her from the village people who wish to kill her. When Noah comes from afar on his decrepit donkey (in fact, Noah is probably 400 years old or so at the time himself with a long straggly beard and bowed legs), she knows the mark has sent her on a journey in order for her survival.

I take away just from the beginning of the novel Rebecca’s themes of humanity’s issue with people not being pure in their beauty, or perfect, or different. People are so paranoid of others that they spin outlandish stories, create fear, and tell stories in order to justify themselves. When it’s a woman who is imperfect, it can be even worse. For women are already the devil’s temptress, aren’t they? (that was sarcasm….)

I also can read through the lines and compare this woman being marked to what it was like for Jews who were marked by a yellow star during WWII Holocaust and had to hide to save their lives. She hid behind the lentil sacks in her small tent with her father without a name to avoid persecution and the Jews lives were stripped, names replaced with numbers, and they had to hide or escape to avoid persecution. It’s also true for any other groups, still even today, who are marked by groups of others or governments (or religious leaders), persecuted, beaten, and killed.  It’s even as true to think about women with tattoos the small of their back, forever branding themselves “tramps” in the eyes of the world for its placement. Or, and this is featured in the book as well, it is almost norm for those who are disabled or slow to be made fun of for something they cannot help, yet people fear their imperfections so much they shun or are cruel to these people.  Who are these that judge to think they are better than anyone else? We are all created differently, on the inside as well as the outside, and have various beliefs and opinions that are important to us as well as circumstances.

In the case of Noah’s wife, she is taken by Noah to the desert to a place where all sinners are exiled and marked with an X. Though she is marked too, it is in a different way and she must hide her mark with a scarf and still not go out much for fear of being called a devil woman even from these people who don’t follow God’s rules. They just don’t want any bad luck or magic to come against them further. The people there steal, loot, kill, and fornicate to such a degree that really they do nothing else; disease is rampant, and life is miserable for them, as well as frustrating for Noah as he tries to save them all. But he can’t.  They have no way to stop doing the things they do to survive, even if they fear or want to know God.

Noah’s wife does befriend the most dangerous woman of the bunch, who kills to survive and runs a prostitution ring, yet has a slow daughter that seems so pure, innocent, and kind.  Noah’s wife loves her and wishes for her to be part of her family yet Noah won’t accept that as she is mentally challenged and might bears sons as such. As this woman, named Lavan, and Noah’s wife learn to assist each other after working together trying to save three babies from the hands of murderers, they learn an appreciation and understanding for each other. She even helps Noah’s wife deliver her three sons that she finally gives Noah. It’s interesting then as Noah is so conflicted over saving these sinners that he rarely calls his sons by their names as well as completely ignoring them as one whores around the sinner camp and tent brothels, one makes jokes, and the other is God-fearing yet does not seem to find his father’s eye or respect. It reminds me of another father I know who spends so much time thinking he is wonderful for helping other people, taking in needy, and “feeding his flock with the word of God,” yet forgets almost completely about the details of the lives of his three sons.  Wouldn’t God have wanted Noah to love his three sons as He loves himself those sons He gave Noah? Was the frustration eating away at Noah so widespread within him, and his focus so much toward doing God’s will and spending hours talking to God about how to save the sinners, that he forgets his own wonderful children–about being a father himself not to only the flock, but his own sons?

In the novel we live through Noah passing out the message that the world will end except for those directed to be in the Ark. The Ark isn’t the main focus of the novel, but more towards the late middle to end as Rebecca sets the scene for us as to the people in exile in the desert, allowing us to know them as well as offering deep development of Noah’s family, Lavan, and her daughter, Henai.

But the horror of the flood, of the issues that come with the people below the Ark–those dying and those fighting to survive–knowing the characters who die, and relating that to actual people who died is hard to fathom. With emotion, we imagine the Earth being wiped out. It all wasn’t so simple as the rains came, the floods came up, the Ark floated along, and then the sun came out and the world was new. It was so much more than that and Rebecca put so much emotion and care, as well as action and suspense, into this section. And the family issues that occur between Noah’s sons and wives just adds to the fervor with which I shake my head, and yet I know, in every stressful situation where people see their lives flashing before their eyes and the fire of survival burning in their hearts, passion, jealously, and the worst of our human personalities can arise.

I loved this fictional biography of Noah’s wife as Rebecca truly showed us a woman of strength. A woman who was marked and yet overcame it, letting her mark lead her life toward true meaning. I realized she was truly “marked” but in a much more special way. The novel has her marked to save the world, bringing hope and kindness to others, to become the mother of the world. She is vibrant, passionate, compassionate, and intelligent. She is nurturing and loving. She is humble and offers grace and mercy. Yet, all she wants is a name.  Will she get it? I’ll let you find out.  But after I’ve read this book about her, I feel that Rebecca made me want to KNOW this woman. Andy maybe in some regard I already do.

Sinners and the Sea ends with thought-provoking content that really speaks to the fact that all different “types” of people make the world go round. That annihilating entire races is really not the answer in which to create a perfect world.

I would highly recommend this book to those who love historical biographical fiction from the time of the Old Testament and those who enjoy books with strong female leads. Be prepared for it to not be full of fluff though, Rebecca holds nothing back when describing the horrors of being in exile, living in filth, and the rampant prostitution. However, it’s deep, philosophical, and shows the strength of the female. As for myself, I will cherish Rebecca’s book and let it serve as a reminder of humanity.


Giveaway #1:

I have an extra giveaway on this blog in addition to the tour-wide one below. Please follow my blog or my Hook of a Book Facebook page to enter (www.facebook.com/HookofaBook) and leave a comment below with your email and name!! 

Giveaway #2:

To enter to win one of two (2) copies of Sinners and the Sea or a $25 Amazon Gift Card via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends at 11:59pm on May 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter by HFVBT on May 30th and notified via email by them.  Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Click below to go to RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM:

I LOVE this cover!!!

I LOVE this cover!!!

Sinners and the Sea, Synopsis~

Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Howard Books/Simon and Schuster
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio CD

The young heroine in Sinners and the Sea is destined for greatness. Known only as “wife” in the Bible and cursed with a birthmark that many think is the brand of a demon, this unnamed woman lives anew through Rebecca Kanner. The author gives this virtuous woman the perfect voice to make one of the Old Testament’s stories come alive like never before.

Desperate to keep her safe, the woman’s father gives her to the righteous Noah, who weds her and takes her to the town of Sorum, a haven for outcasts. Alone in her new life, Noah’s wife gives him three sons. But living in this wicked and perverse town with an aloof husband who speaks more to God than to her takes its toll. She tries to make friends with the violent and dissolute people of Sorum while raising a brood that, despite its pious upbringing, develops some sinful tendencies of its own. While Noah carries out the Lord’s commands, she tries to hide her mark and her shame as she weathers the scorn and taunts of the townspeople.

But these trials are nothing compared to what awaits her after God tells her husband that a flood is coming—and that Noah and his family must build an ark so that they alone can repopulate the world. As the floodwaters draw near, she grows in courage and honor, and when the water finally recedes, she emerges whole, displaying once and for all the indomitable strength of women. Drawing on the biblical narrative and Jewish mythology, Sinners and the Sea is a beauti­fully written account of the antediluvian world told in cinematic detail.

Watch the Book Trailer~


Praise for Sinners and the Sea~

“Kanner animates a harsh, almost dystopic world of fallen people struggling to survive. Noah’s unnamed wife is a powerful, memorable character.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“[Noah’s wife] proves her strength and character as she tries to protect her family… from the outside forces that threaten. Kanner successfully undertakes a formidable task retelling a familiar religious story through the eyes of Noah’s wife. The narrative’s well-articulated, evenly balanced and stimulating—but it’s definitely not the familiar tale that’s so frequently illustrated in children’s books” – Kirkus Reviews

“SINNERS AND THE SEA is a rare find–a bold and vivid journey to the antediluvian world of Noah. Kanner’s is a fresh, irresistible story about the unnamed woman behind the famous ark-builder. Compelling and masterfully written.” – Tosca Lee, NY Times bestelling author of HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE.

“What a remarkable debut! Rebecca Kanner’s SINNERS AND THE SEA is a haunting, beautifully written story of struggle and redemption told through the eyes of the Biblical prophet Noah’s wife. Kanner pulls no punches: She gives us humanity in all its wickedness — bloodthirsty, greedy, cruel — and the horror and heartbreak the inhabitants of Noah’s ark might have felt as, unable to help, they listened to the screams of the dying and witnessed the utter obliteration of life on Earth. By the end of this book, I was in tears, for Kanner does lead us out of the valley of the shadow of death into a new world of promise and hope. SINNERS AND THE SEA is a profoundly moving tale, thrilling and fast-paced, and one of the best books I have read in a very long time.”- Sherry Jones, author, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA and FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS

“Rebecca Kanner brings the antediluvian world of giants, prophets, and demons alive, setting her narrative in motion from the first chapter and never letting it rest. She is a writer of great dexterity, performing tricks at a full sprint.” – Marshall Klimasewiski, author of THE COTTAGERS and TYRANTS

“Kanner does a masterful job of penetrating the depths of the Biblical Flood narrative and weaving in the complicated reality of challenging relationships and longings for personal fulfillment. Her desire to go beyond the traditional understanding of the lives she explores introduces us to a courageous and insightful young writer whose first book will take its place alongside other exciting modern re-readings of the ancient Biblical text.” – Rabbi Allen of Beth Jacob congregation in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. Honored by Forward newspaper as one of America’s “50 most significant Jewish leaders”

“We think we know Noah’s story but he was not alone on the ark; what was the experience of his wife, his family? Rebecca Kanner’s vividly imagined telling recreates the world of the bible, and asks powerful questions about the story and about ourselves.” – Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine (2012). Author of WHY FAITH MATTERS

“We sympathize with this unnamed woman because—as remote as her world seems to be from ours—she longs for all that we want for ourselves: to be known, loved, and accepted by her family, her community, and ultimately her God… After reading Sinners and the Sea, you’ll never look at the Biblical story of Noah and the flood in the same way again, and isn’t that Biblical fiction’s greatest purpose? To see the old stories with fresh eyes and perhaps find new meaning…” – Stephanie Landsem, author of THE WELL

“Rebecca Kanner has created an autobiography of Noah’s wife, and an imaginative one it is.” – American Jewish World

“[Kanner] gives an intelligent voice to Noah’s wife.” – Jewish Book Council

“First-time novelist Kanner has written an utterly absorbing novel, one that flows seamlessly.” – Historical Novel Society

“A fascinating look into a feral civilization of turmoil and hardship.” – Historical Novel Review

“A stirring, fascinating story written beautifully.” – Historical Fiction Connection

“Kanner beautifully evokes life on the claustrophobic, smelly vessel. Riveting… It will certainly spark hours of book club discussions.” – St. Paul Pioneer Press

Buy the Book

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Author Rebecca Kanner, Biography~

03_Rachel KannerSinners and the Sea is Rebecca Kanner’s debut novel. Rebecca is a Twin Cities native and has a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. Her writing has won an Associated Writing Programs Award, a Loft mentorship Award and a 2012/2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. Her personal essay, “Safety,” is listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2011. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including The Kenyon Review and The Cincinnati Review.

Along with other authors including Anita Diamant, Michael Cunningham, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks and Ron Hansen, Rebecca will be featured in the upcoming title Truthful Fictions: Conversations with American Biographical Novelists.

You can learn more about Rebecca, and find links to selected stories and essays, at www.rebeccakanner.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/sinnersandtheseatour

Tour Hashtag: #SinnersandtheSeaTour

Sinners and the Sea_Tour Banner_FINAL2

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Talking with Author Heather Webb about Writing Schedules, Historical Research, and Things French!

Today, I have the pleasure of sitting down with the lovely Heather Webb, author of Becoming Josephine! Her debut novel, it’s become a fast hit in the biographical historical fiction genre. Join us for a fun discussion on her life as a writer, her research, and French history. You can see my review of Becoming Josephine by clicking HERE. There is a giveaway on the review post and also below after the interview, it is for the same giveaway, both will be compiled together and drawn. Enjoy!


Hi, Heather! So happy to interview you today for Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’ve been looking forward to talking with you. What a nice New Year ring in to publish your book, Becoming Josephine, on New Year’s Eve! How has the launch been going?

Heather: I’m so glad to be here! Thanks for having me, Erin. The launch has been great. I can’t tell you how THRILLED I am by all of the amazing reviews. I’m so glad others are as in love with Rose/Josephine’s story as I am.

Erin: For women, her life and personality certainly create a sense of being free, and why it is good to be free in our minds and thoughts!! Oh, by the way, Heather, I just love a girl who likes books and food like me! How you describe baking and the eating of baked goods on your blog posts has made me whip up some gingerbread with cream and if you’ll sit down to enjoy with me, I’ll put on a pot of tea!

Heather: Mmm. Tea and gingerbread is so delicious in the evening before bed. Yes, I’m a bit of a foodie, though these days, I’m busier and busier and don’t have as much time to devote to cooking as I used to. I’m sure that will change as my kids go to school full-time next fall.

Erin: Ah, we always think that. I did, and then now my youngest is in first grade (other two in 4th and 8th) and I’m even busier than ever. I just try to make time for baking at least, it’s therapy!  Shall we get started with a few questions? Here we go….

Becoming Josephine

Q:  Where did your love of all things French first start? I imagine you love history as well and it seems the pairing inspired you to write Becoming Josephine?

A: The Frenchie love began in 7th grade when my family lived in Louisiana. Cajun French is pretty different from Parisian French, but that was where the seeds were planted. As for history, I blame my parents. Between all of the museums they made us go to as kids (which I’m thankful for) and my dad’s obsession with old movies, it seemed only natural that I would love history as well.

Erin: We take our kids to all kinds of museums as we can, since their early stages. My son has taken a liking to history (as you saw when he reviewed your book on his blog!) so I think it’s a good thing. But actually, I didn’t know the French varied….interesting.

Q:  Where did you first discover Rose/Josephine and why did you decide to tell her story (amazing one that it is!)?

A: I first discovered Josephine in a dream. When I decided to write a book, I dreamt about her almost immediately. I knew very little and didn’t even know what she looked like, but her essence was there somehow. *cue Twilight Zone music* So I went to the library to research her the next day. I was hooked in the first few pages of my first biography.

Q:  How long did it take you to research this book? How much is historically accurate and how much is pure fiction? Is it historical fantasy or biographical historical fiction? What motivated you to write it as you did?

A: I researched for about eight months before I wrote a single word, and then I continued to research in dribs and drabs throughout the entire writing process. I tried to take a comprehensive approach—biographies of important characters, histories of the Revolution as well as those of Martinique, Napoleon’s reprinted letters, primary sources scanned in Google Books, documentaries. I studied art and literature movements from this period, china patterns, fashion, weapons. I could go on. Researchitis is a disease we historical fiction writers suffer from.

Erin: True! Yes, I do know that research bug well, as a history buff and writer myself. I sometimes get too into researching and forget to write. It’s all fun though learning so much and then creating a visual world for others.

I would say it’s about 90% accurate, which would make this biographical historical fiction for sure. If the event didn’t happen exactly as written, it was imagined based upon documents that alluded to her witnessing the event.

A couple of examples, Alexandre and Rose separated, but it took place with the aid of a provost through a series of letters and not in person. I chose to set it up as a show-down between the two of them because it’s more dramatic, therefore much more fun to read. It helps the book move. Plus, Rose initiated the separation from Alexandre and won, after which, he apologized—this is the basic truth that was not lost by portraying it as I did. Another example is Rose’s father initially came with her from Martinique to Paris for a two-year stay, but he was so ill his entire time in France, that his character added little to the story. This is why I chose to leave him at home. Other changes I list on my website.

Erin: That’s great. It felt very authentic!

Q:  Was it a long process to write the book? Do you use outlines or write as your muse leads without limitations?

A: I’m a plotter. I write-up extensive character sketches, scene outlines, and historical outlines.  That being said, my muse takes over all the time and leads me in directions I don’t anticipate. And yes, it took me three years to write it. I consider that long, though I know plenty of writers that spend 7-10 years on each of their books.

Q:  What advice do you have for other aspiring historical novelists? What type of book do you need to write, or query letter, in order to be published or looked at by a traditional publishing house?

A:  One: If you want to be traditionally published, study the trends. Walk through a bookstore and see what’s selling. Sometimes the fact that’s it’s never been done before is a bad thing—it means it won’t sell. Beware of that. You may want to reevaluate your goals. For the record, I didn’t do this before I began Becoming Josephine, but I have since.

Two: I read and research widely, which includes travel, but I am not a historian. I’m a novelist. I grow tired of the constant push and pull between “he/she’s accurate” or “he/she’s inaccurate”—all of the finger-pointing historical novelists do to each other. My advice to aspiring writers is to enjoy researching and writing about your topic. Pay attention to detail, but remember that history is far more fluid than what the “experts” say and fiction even more so. What you want is to entertain readers, inflame their imaginations—their hearts! And inspire them to want to read more on a subject. If you’ve managed to do that, you’ve done your job. Readers can consult the many nonfiction books on a given topic until their heart’s content, if they so choose. In other words, don’t get bogged down in every fact and detail. In fact, you will have people tell you that you’re wrong about a particular point, even if you taken it straight from a primary source. It’s happened.

Erin: Agreed!

Q:  With so many historical novels on the market in all sub-genres that are published in many ways, traditional publishers seem to have a liking to books regarding women in history. Do you find this to be true, and if so, why?

A:  It seems to be. It’s what’s on the shelves these days.

Q:  What other women in history interest you and why? Do you have your sights on any others you might write about that you aren’t holding close to the chest?

A: Some I find fascinating that I won’t write about: Jackie Kennedy, Madame Tussaud, Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, Catherine the Great. I like strong women that set trends and shape the world.

Erin: You named several of my favorite there!

Q:  What do you like best about French history? 

A: What I like most about French history? I can’t really answer this because my response is: all of it!

Q:  What types of French food were fainted over during Josephine’s time as compared to today? Can you name some dishes from then and some from now? What are your own favorites?

A: Jellies and sugared fruits, roasted wild game and fish (whole and not in filets).  My favorites are more of the typical French dishes from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s like croissants and meats basted in wine sauce, or cheese platters, fruit tarts, etc.

Q: What are your personal favorite baking recipes (you’re right, it is a science and hard to mess with! I use a lot of old world recipes from my ancestors!)? Fellow baker to baker, I’d love to hear what you make on weekends to relieve the stress of the week!

A: A few of my favorites are Nutella pound cake, chocolate B&B bouché, lemon tart, pumpkin bourbon beignets, Scottish shortbread, éclairs, peach cobbler! I could on and on here. Ha ha!

Erin: Mmmm…me too! All sounds delightful!

Q:  As busy as you are, and with children, HOW do you find the time? Not only with your work, writing a novel, blogging, networking, marketing, cooking, teaching, and children, life with a family is constant chaos. How does your mind find peace in order to write?

A:  Finding balance is always tricky. I’m a bit of a workaholic so I have to rein myself in at times. What I’ve found is the most useful to me in terms of time management is very basic: I keep a calendar and a very regular writing schedule. That sounds like an obvious solution, but most writers I know, believe it or not, don’t keep regular hours. Every Saturday and Sunday I leave my house and hunker down in a coffee shop and write for 5-7 hours–without exception. That time has become sacred to me. I also work for a couple of hours in the mornings each day during the week, but it typically consists of keeping up with my social media commitments and editing. With young kids, that’s the best I can do. The rest of my time is devoted to family. 

Q: Where can readers connect with you? What about writer friends?

A:  My website: http://www.HeatherWebb.net, Twitter: @msheatherwebb or FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heather-Webb-Author/124095350992513?ref=hl

Q:  Where can everyone run out to or click their fingers and purchase your book?

A: My book page on my website:  http://www.heatherwebbauthor.com/sample-page-2/book-list/

 Erin: Heather, so glad to have you here today and I hope you’ll come back often. I really enjoy your web site, your “for fun” section, your blog (food, writing tips, interviews—it’s great), and I had a blast at your book launch party which was so interesting with all the photos and info you shared. I know you’ll have great success with your book! I wish you all the best and keep in touch!

Heather: Thanks so much, Erin.



One paperback (U.S. only). Enter to win by commenting below or email to hookofabook@hotmail.com. Extra +2 entries for liking my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/HookofaBook and extra +2 for following this blog. Enter to win by one (1) week from the date of this post or yesterday’s review post.


Becoming Josephine, Synopsis~

Becoming JosephinePublication Date: December 31, 2013
Plume Books/Penguin
Paperback; 320p
ISBN-10: 0142180653

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Praise for Becoming Josephine

“Heather Webb’s epic novel captivates from its opening in a turbulent plantation society in the Caribbean, to the dramatic rise of one of France’s most fascinating women: Josephine Bonaparte. Perfectly balancing history and story, character and setting, detail and pathos, Becoming Josephine marks a debut as bewitching as its protagonist.” –Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl

“With vivid characters and rich historical detail, Heather Webb has portrayed in Josephine a true heroine of great heart, admirable strength, and inspiring courage whose quest is that of women everywhere: to find, and claim, oneself.” –Sherry Jones, bestselling author of The Jewel of the Medina

“A fast-paced, riveting journey, Becoming Josephine captures the volatile mood of one of the most intense periods of history—libertine France, Caribbean slave revolts, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars—from the point of a view of one of its key witnesses, Josephine Bonaparte.” –Dana Gynther, author of Crossing on the Paris

“Vivid and passionate, Becoming Josephine captures the fiery spirit of the woman who stole Napoleon’s heart and enchanted an empire. –Susan Spann, author of The Shinobi Mysteries

“Spellbinding . . . Heather Webb’s novel takes us behind the mask of the Josephine we thought we knew.” –Christy English, author of How to Tame a Willful Wife and To Be Queen

“Enchanting prose takes the reader on an unforgettable journey . . . Captivating young Rose springs from the lush beauty of her family’s sugar plantation in Martinique to shine in the eighteenth century elegance of Parisian salon society. When France is torn by revolution, not even the blood-bathed terror of imprisonment can break her spirit.” –Marci Jefferson, author of Girl on the Gold Coin (Thomas Dunne Books, 2014)

Buy Links

Barnes & Noble

Author Heather Webb, Biography~

Heather WebbHeather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages.

She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full-time novel-writing and freelance editing.

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

For more information please visit Heather’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/becomingjosephinetour
Twitter Hashtag: #BecomingJosephineTour

Becoming Josephine_Tour Banner_FINAL


Filed under Q and A with Authors