St Patrick’s Day Read – Ireland – County Cork – Lucinda Riley

girl on the cliff

Why a booktrail?

Travel to Ireland with Lucinda Riley in this tale of family secrets over the years. Stunning locations and settings and a saga spanning decades.

Story

A secret from 1914 has caused years and years of heartache but why?

Grania Ryan has returned to her native Ireland following a tragedy in America where she lived and worked. She needs her family right now for comfort and is glad to be home with them and amongst the gorgeous setting. One day she meets a young girl, Aurora who will change her life and her families in ways none of them could ever have expected. For she soon discovers that her family and Aurora’s are strangely and deeply entwined . . .

Will Aurora and Grania be able to reunite the families, unlock the chains of the past and solve the mystery that has been haunting the two families for many years?

Place and setting

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Dunworley Where the novel opens and a place so vital to the story Cork - where Grania and Aurora go shopping Mary wanders on the cliff near the house and Sean takes her to Rosscarberry or Clonakilty
Dunworley
Where the novel opens and a place so vital to the story
Cork – where Grania and Aurora go shopping
Mary wanders on the cliff near the house and Sean takes her to Rosscarberry or Clonakilty

The small figure was standing perilously close to the edge of the cliff. Her luxuriant, long read hair had been caught by the strong breeze and was flying out behind her

And we are immediately transported to the cliff in Ireland where we meet Aurora with the scene set with such passion and evocative writing that you can also feel the wind in your hair and concern that the child is too near to the edge of the cliff. but then this is Lucinda Riley’s writing – as she not only takes you to the story and the characters but the setting is also a character in itself.

“The West Cork sun was akin to a temperamental diva”

London in war time is grim and dangerous, the West coast of Ireland, rural and carefree and New York painful to remember. Each location draws on the story and reveals secrets about the characters and the importance of belonging.

The settings themselves are wide ranging and deeply descriptive – we are taken to World War I and II, contemporary Ireland and New York and meet a large cast of characters from a variety of social backgrounds along the way.

But it’s the spirit of Ireland that looms large and captures your mind as it does the hair of Aurora on the book’s cover. This is the spirit of Ireland, the way it gets under your skin and ultimately inside your heart –

..the wind that had been whistling around them as they’d climbed up the cliff suddenly calmed. This was due to a thick hedge of brambles and the wild fushia West Cork was famous for, which stood sentinel around the house, protecting it and its occupants as best it could.

Bookish musings

Ireland is certainly a character in this book and what an evocative read. I really now want to go to Cork and feel the wind in my hair and to see the cliffs that Aurora and the others saw. what a rural yet vivid landscape.

The story was like a thread woven in and out of each page. The journey iof Aurora, the enchanting little girl who is the link between the two feuding families and a catalyst for change is an interesting story. She holds the key to the mystery of the families there and the developing relationship between Grania and the girl is lovely to see. Aurora is enchanting and playful and fresh – in every way.

As we start to discuss Aurora’s backstory, this is the most enchanting part of the novel but the story of her mother and Grania’s mother is the most upsetting part of the whole story. Yet, just like the war time setting where we meet another figure, it is  yet another thread in the overall weave of a history and past that is important to present day.

An historical jigsaw puzzle with the enchanting girl on the cliff at the centre of it all.

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The Seven Sisters – Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Geneva – Lucinda Riley

The Seven Sisters (Lucinda Riley)

Trace the story and the mystery behind the story of the Seven Sisters constellation with a fictional account of an imagined seven sisters and their stories

Story in a  nutshell

This is the first book of seven and each one will trace the story of one sister and how she came to be part of the D’Apliése family since they were all adopted at various stages by their father, an elusive billionaire who was affectionally known as Pa Salt.

Maia is the first sister to look into her past. Discovering that their beloved father has already been buried at sea, they are each given a letter and a clue for them to be able to find out about their true background and heritage.

Every one needs to know their past and who they really are. Only Maia could never have imagined her journey would take her halfway across the world.

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Place and setting

Oh the locations are so evocative that you will feel instantly transported to the three places which feature so strongly in the story – Geneva, Rio de Janeiro, and Paris – places so unique and far apart but ones which according to the legend of the Seven Sisters are mysteriously linked.

lucinda-map

Geneva – the lake Geneva where on the banks of the lake stands the majestic home of the D’Apliése family called Atlantis – fitting for its mythical position in the seven sisters story. Lake Geneva is home, the peace of the mountains and the glassy waters, flute music and the start of a seven story adventure..

A beautiful object called an armillary sphere appears mysteriously in the gardens of the sisters’ home on Lake Geneva and plays a key role in The Seven Sisters series.
A beautiful object called an armillary sphere appears mysteriously in the gardens of the sisters’ home on Lake Geneva and plays a key role in The Seven Sisters series.

Rio de Janeiro

If you have ever wondered what they story is behind the Christ the Redeemer and who was responsible for building it and its significance in the city then its history and early life as it was first built on the Corcovado mountain, the scenes in Rio will enchant –  the colour, texture of the city as well as the insides of the favelas in contrast to the rich stone mansions are all explored. but it is the pain behind the glittering facade of one house in particular that is the most heartbreaking.

Heitor da Silva Costa built the famous statue and has a fascinating story
Heitor da Silva Costa built the famous statue and has a fascinating story

Paris

In contrast to Rio, the scenes in Paris – in the area of Montmartre are an artists dream. Ateliers, outdoor restaurants, and the cobbled streets take the story and mystery in a new direction.

Paul Landowski sculptor in Paris 1875
Paul Landowski sculptor in Paris 1875

Booktrailer recommended!

A very exciting start to a seven part story which aims to tell the story behind the seven stories constellation. Lucinda’s dual timeline story telling really comes into its own here and I can’t think of a more perfect author to tell this story. I was lucky enough to attend a private showing of this book and Lucinda brought along  a celestial zodiac globe all silvery and shiny which spins with the inscriptions of the star signs on them. No spoilers here though!

The story is long and detailed but this is a book you want to take your time with and relax as it is so cinematic both in scope and location that it takes you on quite the journey which is both one of excitement and of finding out secrets.

Lucinda tells the story from the beginning with Maia finding out that beloved Pa Salt has died and the journey that she goes on to find out her past.

The journey is told in flashbacks as Maia’s past is revealed and there are so many layers and hidden secrets to both parts of the story and the way history and the present intertwine.

There is so many beautiful descriptions of all places in the novel but it is Rio and the creation of Christ the Redeemer that is the star of the show. I would love to know more about the star constellation the Seven sisters as it has the perfect mix of intrigue, mystery, love , loss and the human spirit. The dedication and passion behind the construction of the statue for example was fascinating in the extreme and I had no idea of how such a statue may have been built – the dreams as well as the sweat and tears behind such a project. The secret of the mosaic pieces, the way the hands are formed. 

As for Geneva, I’ve always thought this place was something out of a mythical story and the idea of a grand home on Lake Geneva was to firmly build up my impression in my mind. Lucinda not only draws the scenes of the shining waters and surrounding mountains with such passion that you are fully immersed in the setting.

As for Paris, even though I feel I know these streets well, I had never been to the ateliers of a famous artist nor wandered around Montmartre in the search for my destiny. Well I have now and the thrill of what I was searching there along with Maia before being whisked back to the heady mountains in Rio was a thrilling journey I shall never forget.

I for one can not wait for the second in the series nor the ones which follow. A journey of epic proportions…..

With thanks to Lucinda for the use of her images from her website – http://www.thesevensistersseries.com/ This is the home of the Seven Sisters and you can find historical fact, mystery and lots more about the story and legend of the Seven sisters. Their fate is in the stars….

The Italian Girl – Italy, New York and London – Lucinda Riley

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Imagine yourself in a grand theatre near the canal in Naples, sitting in the darkened auditorium, scared to breath as you don’t want to break the silence of anticipation. What awaits you is a musical spectacle with some of the greatest performers of their age..

The curtain rises, you shiver with excitement..

What must it feel like for those performing right in front of so many expecting eyes, focused and just waiting to capture every single moment of the spectacular that unfolds..

Lucinda Riley allows us to go behind the curtain of the most glittering opera houses in Italy and those of Convent Garden and New York to meet two great performers whose story behind the scenes was as operatic if not more so than that on the stage..

Settings – Naples, the Metropolitan Opera house in New York and La Scala in Milan. (to name but a few)

Rosanna Menici is just a girl when she meets Roberto Rossini. She has dreams of becoming a great opera singer like him and her journey to becoming a singer with some of the greatest opera houses over the world is a journey paved with obstacles, hardships and an obsessive love. When they fall in love, that’s when Rosanna’s life really starts to play out as if on the stage itself.

Naples and the small narrow streets where Rosanna lives as a young girl
Naples and the small narrow streets where Rosanna lives as a young girl

Rosanna ‘s journey starts from her humble beginnings in the back streets of Naples – in the Piedigrotta. As she writes in her diary –

Walking down the Piedigrotta, it looked as though the residents were in state of perpetual celebration , with the different-coloured clothes on washing lines strung high above our heads.

The locations, as always with Lucinda’s books are stunning and evocative in every way by the sights, sounds, smells and the air around you. You are with Rosanna and her brother as she stands in the garden of a local singing teacher and performs hoping to catch his ear –

The found themselves on the corner of a gracious terrace decorated wit large clay pots filled with dusty-pink geraniums and deep-purple periwinkles.

From that moment, Rosanna’s career begins and as she performs in front of her unsuspecting family who haven’t known she has been having singing lessons, we are sitting in the audience willing her family to accept her –

As the last notes died away, there was silence from the audience. Rosanna stood in a trance as her mamma’s face, the face she had sung to for the past few minutes, disappeared. A storm of Rapturous applause broke in her ears..

What Rosanna would have seen when singing at La Scala
What Rosanna would have seen when singing at La Scala

The setting of the opera scene was not one that I had ever been immersed in before. I’m not an opera fan and have never even been to a performance but that didn’t matter reading this as now I feel as if I was right beside Rosanna every step of the way and that I felt the tension of what it meant to want to be on that stage so badly, and to sing so that the silence afterwards was deafening.

Rosanna’s career takes off yet she never forgets the man who inspired her – Roberto Rossini and the fact she wrote in her diary as a child that one day they would marry. When their paths cross again, an obsessive love forms and we really catch a glimpse of the large personalities that we imagine the opera world to be famous for –

Roberto Rossini –

The packed bar was buzzing with talk of Roberto, who was producing an outstanding vocal performance. Even Paolo had relaxed as he’d watch him command the stage his magnetism eclipsing the other members of the cast.

Roberto was portrayed as this great maestro in the opera world who despite being quite odious at times, certainly self-absorbed, prone to acting like a drama queen, was still capable of sympathy and understanding to some degree.

It was Rosanna that totally captured me though as this was her journey from Naples to standing on the stages of the opera houses of New York and Covent Garden – this world and the palatial homes she lived in a result were wrapped up in Lucinda’s captivating prose – hard to believe this was one of her earliest books rewritten. Rosanna, was a worthy leading lady..

Rosanna had settled in to her new life in la Scala with surprising ease. She enjoyed the performances to study and learn from the principal singers she worked with

Then there is Covent Garden –

Covent Garden opera house
Covent Garden opera house

Handsome opera stare Roberto Rossini was caught outside one of London’s finest restaurants yesterday holding hands with his co-star, the beautiful young Italian soprano Rosanna Menici. The tow of them are singing La Traviata to packed houses at Covent Garden.

And the metropolitan opera house of New York – 

The Met in New York
The Met in New York

In a few hours time I will stand on the  stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York  and sing an aria……. especially for Roberto Rossini

All growing dreams but as the scenery gets more sumptuous and more glittering, Rosanna finds that the old cliche is true and that all that glitters is certainly not gold. For her obsessive love for Roberto is not nurtured in the way that it should be by him and she finds out secrets from the past are always waiting in the wings….

Take a bow Italian girl...
Take a bow Italian girl…

A glorious epic story of two singers – crackling with the passion and the prima donna mood swings that we might associate with huge stars at times.

But its the story behind the wings – of how they got there and the sacrifices they made along the way which is the most thrilling story of them all.

Take a whirlwind tour of the worlds most stunning opera houses and enter in to the musically crafted world of Lucinda Riley. Rapturous applause

A cuppa and a cake with Lucinda Riley – author of A Midnight Rose

 

The table is all set ready for Lucinda and the cake has just come out of the oven
The table is all set ready for Lucinda and the cake has just come out of the oven

 

Today the booktrail is honoured to have the wonderful Lucinda Riley come over to Book trail towers for a cuppa and a chat. Writers love talking about books over a cuppa and a lovely slice or two of lemon drizzle. The booktrail owl has the table set and there is a distinct waft of lemon magic drifting from the kitchen. Better get a move on owl! Our Lucinda will be here in a moment!

The Midnight Rose - Set in India and England
The Midnight Rose – Set in India and England

This is the book that totally drew me into the setting and not only the surroundings – but the sights, the smells and the atmostphere as well. If you read the book trail of the Midnight Rose which was posted yesterday https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/the-midnight-rose-with-a-scent-of-india-and-england/ , you will know its set in both England and India and…ooh there’s a knock at the door. That must be Lucinda.

 

Lucinda on a research trip to India
Lucinda on a research trip to India

 

Hi there! Come on in. Booktrail towers may not be as grand as that gorgeous archway you are standing beside in the photo, but do come in. Sit yourself down. Now then, would you like a piece of the famous lemon drizzle cake? Kettle’s just boiled too. Tea or coffee?

Thanks for coming over by the way. I’ve been dying to talk with you for a long time – I’ve read all your books but this one really stands out for me and so I’m so glad you choose the booktrail for a chat. Now then, as you know we are keen on settings here, so I wanted to ask you about that first of all –

Lucinda outside the City Palace
Lucinda outside the City Palace

You have written a number of books set in different places. Is the setting important to you and why did you want to write the story The Midnight rose set in such a contrasting landscape as India and England?

Very much so. It’s always a location that sows the first seeds for a story and India has always fascinated me. Its contrasting cultures and diverse landscapes present such a vivid, rich tapestry that it naturally provides the colourful, exotic background I so adore writing about. And seeing the beauty of its stunning temples and palaces alongside the deprivation suffered by so many of the people there has also had a lasting effect on me.

Photo from Lucinda's mother's album
Photo from Lucinda’s mother’s album

Also, I knew my family had lived there 100 years ago. My great- great-grandfather was a British army officer there before he went to fight in The Great War in 1914,  and after I finished the book I was amazed to find that my mother had discovered a photograph album which showed many of the locations and names of people I had used in the book. And  I’ve just  discovered they had settled in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor in a village called ‘Crapstone’ (the name of the place under a photograph of their house) and of course, that’s where I’ve set the fictional Astbury Hall. That really shook me. It’s definitely my most ambitious story to date and when I started, I didn’t quite know what I was letting myself in for!

Old photo of Delhi
Old photo of Delhi

 

Within The Midnight Rose, the descriptions of India are sumptuous and very colourful. You have obviously stayed there yourself. Can you recommend some of the places that inspired you and which would appear on a book trail of The Midnight Rose?

I visited the Moon Palace in Jaipur where I’d imagined Anahita living. And then stayed at the amazing Rambagh Palace which is now a hotel, still owned by the royal family of Jaipur and where they are regularly seen playing polo. I also went to Mumbai, where Ari lives, Cooch Behar up in the north and New Delhi.

india

You set a lot of the book in the 1920s – which are your favourite writers from that time?

Coincidently, all of my favourite authors are from that time – F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton in particular. It’s my favourite era in general.

 

Do you think your history as an actress helps you to live the lives of your characters in your head?

Absolutely. I have a strange way of writing as I suffered from RSI after writing my first books twenty years ago and now I dictate the whole story into my dictaphone, known affectionately as ‘Dick’. It’s only after my long suffering PA, Olivia has typed it out that I learn that I’ve performed all the characters in different voices and accents. It’s become a joke in my house, especially as I also dictate the punctuation. My children think I’m crazy.

 

Castle Howard in Yorkshire image courtesy of Wikipedia
Castle Howard in Yorkshire image courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Seaton Delaval in Northumberland. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Seaton Delaval in Northumberland. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Astbury Hall is, I believe, based on Castle Howard in Yorkshire. Have you visited it and how did you do your research for this part of the novel?

Yes I have visited Castle Howard, which was designed by Vanbrugh. Another beautiful house, Seaton Delaval in Northumberland, is a Vanbrugh house and owned by a great friend of ours. He recently had to sell it to the National Trust as the upkeep and restoration was so financially demanding. So Astbury Hall is a mixture of the two.

 

Which countries have you lived in or visited and do you have a favourite?

I have a special soft spot for Ireland, where I was born and lived for ten years. I suppose that’s where I feel I belong. Also the South of France, where we have a house and spend our summers. Our village is on the coast and in a nature reserve so it’s incredibly untouched and beautiful, even though it’s only 15minutes from St Tropez. I love the French lifestyle, their appreciation of art and culture, and of course, food and wine.

 

Which literary character do you think you are you most like?

In my fantasy, I’m Daisy in ‘The Great Gatsby’. In reality, I’m probably Bob Cratchett’s wife in ‘A Christmas Carol’, feeding five thousand kids!

The Midnight Rose is a novel for all the senses
The Midnight Rose is a novel for all the senses

 

Do you think The Midnight Rose could have a soundtrack to place the reader even further in the setting? If so which two songs (one for each place) would you choose?

When I was writing ‘The Midnight Rose’ I always had John Denver’s ‘Annie’s Song’ in my head. Its lyrics are so fitting to the relationship of Anahita and Donald. Also, the music I use for the video I made for The Midnight Rose. It’s Scheherazade by Rimsky Korsakov, one of my all-time favorite pieces of music

 

US cover - the book is released on March 18th in the US
US cover – the book is released on March 18th in the US

What an amazing ending! I cried after reading it. It stayed with me for a long time afterwards and still does if I’m honest. Without giving anything away obviously, what was it like to write it?

Gulp… I will never forget writing that ending. I’d finished the story and knew I had to complete the circle and bring it back to Anahita.  Unusually, everyone in my ridiculously busy house was out. I began typing, again unusual as I normally dictate, and, after about a page, couldn’t understand why I was writing about Anahita and hospitals. I was literally just about to delete it when suddenly I knew. I wrote the last page with tears streaming down my face and sobbed on and off for the rest of the afternoon, because I just couldn’t bear the tragedy of it. I then gave it to my husband who’d read the rest of the book, and he cried too, and he never cries. I can’t ever imagine writing quite such a poignant ending again. Even my US and UK editors, who are both male, told me they were in floods of tears.

Thank you so much Lucinda for talking to the book trail about this amazing novel and how setting can play such an important role. You really do recreate some stunning sights,sounds and atmospheres in words. The scent of the Midnight Rose is a fragrance I will never forget.

For more information and insights into Lucinda and her writing, then please visit her website –http://www.lucindariley.com/  she has written books set in war -torn Europe, Thailand and many other places! Perfect for booktrails.

The Midnight Rose – with a scent of India and England

 

UK cover
UK cover

 

Set in  1920s India and modern-day England, The Midnight Rose reads like an epic story of how women lived and loved and how relationships can transcend boundaries and different eras.

The Midnight Rose is a novel for all the senses
The Midnight Rose is a novel for all the senses

 

India

As the dawn breaks and the sun begins to rise over Mount Kanchenjunga beyond my window, I lie on my pillows and smile to myself at the utter ridiculousness of the thought.

World War I is approaching when we meet Anahita . She is bright and curious and a companion to a royal princess. She is unlike other indian girls in that she gains access to a world of privilege before being sent to England where she has the chance to become educated.

There she meets young Lord Donald Astbury and they fall in love. However political and social mores at the time means that the two cannot be together and there are forces at work to ensure that they do not. He is forced to marry someone of his own station but is haunted by his true love for the rest of his life.

india

Anahita is now 100. She is looking back on her life. She is sure her son is still alive….

I look across to the writing bureau which sits in the alcove opposite me and can’t help but think about what is concealed inside its locked drawer. It is a letter, and it runs over three hundred pages. It is written to my beloved son and tells the story of my life from the beginning.

 

US cover - the book is released on March 18th in the US
US cover – the book is released on March 18th in the US

 

 

England

 Rebecca looked in wonder as they drove thorough parkland dotted with ancient oak, horse chestnut and beech trees on either side of the road

Rebecca Bradley, an American Actress, is on location in Dartmoor,England at Astbury Hall –which is owned by Lord Anthony Astbury. He is stunned that she looks so much like his grandmother Violet. Whilst filming, Rebecca finds some old papers written by an Indian girl who visited Astbury Hall back in the twenties, and whose story is intrinsically linked to the Astbury family and the house.

england

The two worlds may collide in ways that no-one could ever have foreseen but the reader is swept up in the elegance and heat of India and the cool breeze and stone walls of Astbury Hall. Traditions, culture and language may be worlds apart but emotions are very much the same and can last a lifetime.

These two women tell their remarkable stories and as they describe or allude to their world around them you are transported there via the pages of The Midnight Rose – the mountains from Anahita’s room or the lush gardens from the window of Astbury Hall – this is a book written for the delight of all the senses.

 India – And the Jaipur residents themselves were colourful; the men wore vivid turbans of yellow, magenta and ruby red

Astbury Hall – …a splendid view of the flower gardens and the sweep of green lawn and parkland beyond

 

The Midnight Rose is a wonderful book where the settings are characters themselves and you will never forget your journey.

The Light Behind the Window, England and France

The light behind the window is a tale of love,war, and hidden secrets.

It is about two women- one living in the present time and another, telling her tale many years earlier during WW2.

Emilie de la Martinieres is a rich heiress of a castle which holds memories good and bad, and as Emilie discovers these, she also discovers something of the past and as a result, unravels the future.

Constance Carruthers is a young married woman, whose husband is missing in action. She is sent to Paris as a spy (a thrilling and somewhat not widely written about aspect of the war) to help the Resistance in Vichy France.

She finds herself placed in the most extraordinary position in the house of Edouard de la Martinieres. 

And so, the past and the present collide in this story about two different eras but ones which share the themes of love, loss, pain and the struggles of women.

However for me, the imposing chateau which links the two women is the central character of the book as it represents hidden secrets, the past, the history that we all carry into the future, and the pain and struggles of life.

As Emilie begins to sort through her family affairs, she discovers a notebook of poems, written by her Father’s sister Sophia. Sophia has been hidden away but slowly reveals the story that links the two families and the hidden secrets of both the Chateau and all it represents.

I am a very visual reader – I see the characters and the settings very clearly, and when the writing is as good as this, I can even smell the dark dank caverns of the castle and taste the fear when the Germans come knocking to the  door. The whole story weaved in and out of its 529 pages with ease and I must admit, I was very moved in particular by the final scene. I hope this is turned into a film although I’m one of those people who expects it to build the pictures it does in my mind. However, I do think that it would be a lovely story to explore and to experience in the cinema.

The light behind the window is a light which rebounds of every surface it touches, revealing shadows and darker recesses of the human character and mind. But it also represents a shining example of hope and emotional strength.

I didn’t want this light to go out.