Tag Archives: gothic historical fiction

A White Room, debut historical novel by Stephanie Carroll, Takes on Secrets, Madness, Gender, and Human Rights in 1900s America

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 350x525Emma is terrified of her house. It moves, creaks, and seems alive. Is the terror truly there or is it in her own head? Is her isolation driving her mad or is her madness making her isolated?

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~

A White Room 350x525At 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.

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Giveaway~

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~

A Rafflecopter giveaway

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Stephanie Carroll, Biography~

Author Photo at Irwin Street Inn - CopyAs 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~

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Endorsements~

“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~

A White Room 350x525

by Stephanie Carroll

June 2013

408 Pages

Soft Cover: $14.99

eBook: $3.99

Publisher: Unhinged Books

ISBN: 978-0-9888674-0-6

eBook ISBN:

978-0-9888674-1-3

LCCN: 2013930913

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

AmazonBarnes & NobleSonyKoboInkteraSmashwords

Soon to be available on Apple’s iBooks and Baker & Taylor’s Blio

A White Room Blog Tour Dates

A White Room 350x525Weds, 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!

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Interview with Author M.J. Rose of Seduction: A Magical, Haunting Tale of Victor Hugo

Hi, M.J.!  Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It’s a pleasure for me to have you here today for an interview. Our time is obviously short so let’s get started!

SeductionQ:  Where did your inspiration for Seduction stem from? What compelled you to write it?

A:  A trip to Paris and Victor Hugo’s home there inspired me to read Les Miserables. I became obsessed with Fantine. I kept wondering if someone had inspired Hugo to create her? I started reading more and more about him. I read his poetry. Sought out his watercolors and drawings… But it was coming across a description of his belief in reincarnation and his experimenting with séances that made me decide to write about him… and the woman who might have inspired him to create Fantine.

Erin Comments: Fascinating!

Q: How is Seduction similar to your other novels? How does it differ?

A: Al l of my novels seem to be about how the past influences the present.   Seduction is different in that it’s the first time I wrote from a famous person’s point of view. About 25% of the book is me writing as Victor Hugo – giving his first person account of his experiences with séances.

Q:  What was your favorite part of writing Seduction?

A: The second draft. I love that part of every book the best. The hardest part is done – getting the book on paper – then I get to finesse for days and days and days.

Erin Comments: Totally understandable.

Q: What is one thing you want readers to remember or feel after they are done reading Seduction?

A: Hopefully how much they enjoyed reading the book so they tell everyone about it 🙂

Q:  What other novels have you written and are they all historical thriller/suspense?

A: All the books are at MJRose.com – there are 13 novels all together. The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, The Hypnotist and The Book of Lost Fragrances all have elements of historical fiction – the others don’t.

Q:  I like how you meld the senses, art, music, and the spiritual into your books. I can imagine you live your life surrounded by all things beautiful from the creative world.  What would some of your favorite Pinterest boards say about you (if you have or would have them) or show us about your personality?

A: OH I HAVE THEM! Just visit MJRose at Pinterest – I love doing them. – some are very personal and some are even hidden that the public can’t see. I use them to create characters and work on stories.

Q: Who are your favorite heroines from history?

A:  I can’t tell you – I have a list of them and a series of books planned about them – and don’t want to give it away 🙂

Q:  How do you feel that the publishing world is doing now in accepting females as major novel writers, especially in the thriller genre?

A: Other than getting reviews – which mostly go to male writers in suspense and every genre – women writers in the suspense genre have done well for decades. Going back to Agatha Christie and even further, I don’t think there’s been any serious prejudice from readers or publishers against women writers.

Q:  Do you think paranormal or spiritual themes are integral parts of your writing?  Why do you feel these themes are so popular in the current culture?

A: I think magic is integral to my writing… I’m drawn to possibilities even when they are impossible ones. And I think they are popular because we’re living in hard times and the paranormal takes us out of our world and offers hope that there is more than we know about – more than we can see.

Erin Comments: I agree.

Q:  You are an extremely well-known consultant and mentor in regards to self-publishing. I know you’ve opened a marketing company for promoting books. I’m in the same line of work in regards to journalism, PR, and marketing. I’m wondering, how do you manage to do all this and write novels too? How do you juggle it all?

A: I work on my fiction in the morning and then the afternoon is devoted to AuthorBuzz.com

Erin Comments: You make it sound so easy. Kudos to you for all you accomplish.

Q: What is some of your best advice for women authors who are balancing a family, life and writing novel(s)?

A: I don’t have any since I do not have anything like a balanced life!

Q:  What is your advice about self-publishing versus looking for a traditional publisher? What about independent press?

A: All publishing is a lottery. Over 2 million books will be published this year. Most will sell less than 100 copies. I think everyone needs to educate themselves and not just talk to the successes in traditional publishing and self publishing but talk to the authors in the trenches in both camps and see which trench you’d rather be in. Self publishing gives you total control, you own all your own rights and you don’t share any of what you make on your books but I think you need to have  an interest in running a business. Traditional offers you a lot of help, more distribution, financial support upfront and a chance at reviews that elude most self published authors. It’s all what you want to do and how you want to do it.

Q:  What has been your biggest achievement or success? What has been your biggest challenge?

A: Staying alive. And staying alive.

Q:  Switching gears, what is your favorite stage play and why? Movie?

A: Stage play  Brigadoon – it is so magical.

Erin Comments: Also one of my favorites! I hardly hear anyone say this one!

Movie – Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn tied with Portrait of Jennie. It’s that magic again.

Q:  What is coming up next for you?

A: I’m working on the 2014 book now but I think it’s bad luck to talk about it.

Q: What is the best way for readers to connect with you?

A: MJRose.com – there’s a form there.

Erin:  It’s been an honor to have the opportunity to interview you, M.J.!  I wish you even more continued success and welcome you here anytime! Best of luck to you in all your many endeavors.

M.J.: And a pleasure to visit with you here!

Readers, please stop back by on May 9 for my review of Seduction!

Seduction, Synopsis~

SeductionPublication Date: May 7, 2013
Atria Books
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 1451621507

SYNOPSIS: From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.

Author M.J. Rose, Biography~

M.J. RoseM.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Promotion for Necklace from M.J. Rose!

NecklaceYou will be eligible to win a Victoria Choker if you:

1. Put the book on you To Be Read shelf on Goodreads and email me the link or tell me and send me your account name in an email to hookofabook@hotmail.com: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15802432-seduction

OR

2. Pre-order SEDUCTION here: http://mjrose.com/books/seduction.asp?BookVar=Praise
Send your receipt to mjrosewriter@gmail.com and state you came from the Hook of a Book blog.

Only US residents can enter.
 
 
See More Guest Posts, Interviews, Reviews, and Giveaways at Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/seductionvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour
 
Seduction Tour Banner FINAL
 

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Filed under Q and A with Authors