“It’s a bit depressing how facts seem to hide more than they reveal.” – Molly Goode, museum curator Less than a year on the job, Molly finds herself tasked with at a make-or-break crossroads with Evelyn Fox, the frosty and exacting Director. In order to carry out the final bequest of their longtime benefactor, George […]
The theme for this year’s BSB book festival blog tour is ‘fun’, and what the word means to us. Well, to be frank, I always approach the word ‘fun’ with the appropriate amount of cynicism and measured caution that the word deserves. This is because how I interpret the word ‘fun’ entirely depends on the […]
Molly Goode draws you into the book and into her from the first dialogue. Committed, passionate, idealistic, open, funny, giving…she is completely adorable. The other MC, Georgina Wright, starts off tilting towards being an Ice Queen, but is mercifully, as open to Molly as Molly truly deserves.
Brief synopsis: Molly is a newly appointed art curator of a museum. Wright Foundation is one of the main benefactors of the said museum. Georgina’s father willed a fairish number of artifacts to the museum, and now Georgina has to hand over the bequest. She seems to be dragging her feet and Molly is assigned the task to get Georgina going on it. However, the first time the two MCs meet, Georgina has come to the museum to find the provenance of one particular painting of one of her ancestors’, Josephine. At that point Molly doesn’t know who Georgina is. The painting captures Molly’s imagination and the story unfolds on two levels: the growing relationship between Molly and Georgina and the relationship between Josephine and Edith (the painter of the portrait) two hundred years back.
This was a complex story to cultivate but has been excellently executed. While all the characters are beautifully developed but the tortured Josephine and completely lovable Molly really burrow into your heart. The relationship between the two MCs grabs you and the chemistry is oh, so there.
Review by Best Lesfic Reviews
This book pulled me in so amazingly fast I’m pretty sure I got reading whiplash. It was awesome (except for Evelyn, I would like to flatten her nose a couple of times in rapid succession, although, I think that that was the purpose of the character).
It’s the story of Molly and Georgina. Molly is an art curator who is passionate about her job and about diversifying the museum where she works for’s collection.
And when Georgina’s father dies she is put in charge of a foundation that sometimes supports the museum. Also, she has to pack up her father’s house, which is near the museum. She comes to a painting that is neither going to the museum with her father’s other art, or willed to her, and so she enlist’s Molly’s help (through the entirely unpleasant director of the museum, Evelyn) to find out who painted the portrait of Georgina’s ancestor and why.
Needless to say, they get closer as they work together to solve the painting’s mystery, but, they both have issues (of different sorts) and so the question is, can they overcome their pasts to enjoy their present and future?
What was most impressive about this novel was the emotion throughout the book, the whole novel seemed to vibrate with all sorts of different emotions. Especially the stuff that was set in the 1800s, which I loved.
It was an amazing book, complex and compelling.
I received this book via Netgalley thanks to Bold Strokes Books.
Review by From Bella To Ylva
Independent publishing | Independent writing | Independent thinking
Come say hello and maybe buy a book. Hot off the press copies of Love’s Portrait will be available before general release! *£10.00*
If you can’t make it but would like to purchase a copy of Love’s Portrait please contact me direct (postage and packing will apply).
[I will also bring with me a few copies of Highland Fling and Girls Next Door.]
The tenth States of Independence takes place on Saturday 23 March 2019 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester. 10.30am – 4.30pm. Free entry!
Workshops | Readings | Panels | Seminars | Book launches
Bookstalls | Independent presses | Regional writers
Fiction | Non-fiction | Poetry | Plays | Artist books | Magazines | Journals
Publishers Weekly Spring 2019 Announcements: Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner (April 2019, ISBN 978-1-63555-057-3). Sparks fly between Molly, an art curator, and Georgina, her museum’s aloof benefactor, as they research the portrait of a 19th-century lesbian social activist and try to convince the museum’s board to display it.
Context of extract:
Museum Curator Molly Goode (central character) has just attended a museum funding meeting with her boss Evelyn Fox and the Chairman of the Trustees Mark Drew. Her suggestions that the museum should focus on more diversity and community based projects are rebuffed in favour of securing the ongoing patronage of the Wright family, headed by Georgina Wright (central character).
Molly returns to her desk defeated and dispirited.
Molly returned to her office, dropped her notes back into the bin where they belonged, and slumped onto Fran’s desk with a heavy sigh.
“You’re sitting on my sandwich.” Fran pushed at Molly’s hip, encouraging her to stand.
“I’ve sat on your lunch? Oh my God, could this day get any worse?” Molly held Fran’s baguette, squishy in her hands. It was now less buoyant baguette and more flatbread and pretty much summed up her morning.
Fran stood with a groan. “Want anything from the cafe?”
Molly looked down, crestfallen, and shook her head.
“I take it the meeting wasn’t exactly a great success.” Fran rested a motherly hand on Molly’s shoulder.
She couldn’t bring herself to mention the annex let alone that she had prompted the idea of a dedicated exhibition in the first place. “Honestly it was chilling to hear them. Everything’s about money or status to them. I thought museums were for and about the people.”
“You’re sounding more like a social historian every day,” Fran said, with an approving nod. “Although isn’t the art world, your world, all about that—status?”
“Not for me.”
“Good for you.” Fran placed her hands on her hips. “I think we need cake.”
“Have lunch in the square with me?”
“Sorry, no can do, I’ve a shopping list longer than David Attenborough’s career. But I’ll see you later. So what will it be—Victoria Sponge or, better still, eclairs?”
Molly mustered a smile. “How about both?”
“Good choice.” Fran turned back at the door. “Do you remember what I said to you when you first started at the museum? That you will always feel disheartened if your approach is to work against them?”
“The trick, if there is a trick”—Fran frowned slightly—“is somehow to find a way to achieve what you believe is right but that still delivers for the powers that be.”
“So is this how you handle Evelyn?”
“On my good days, yes. On my bad days, lots of rude words shouted at the top of my lungs in the privacy of the ladies’ loo.”
Molly giggled. “Right. Noted.”
The instant Fran closed the door, Molly was engulfed by images of the chairman with his expression of vacuous power, his mane-like hair swept back, his tie tight against his collar moving with his throat as he spoke. He was confident in a bullish way that suggested at his heart he was insecure. His insecurity made him dangerous, and if she was not mistaken, that was likely the source of his power and influence—not his knowledge, not his experience, but the fragility of his ego, charming when stroked, ferociously defensive when challenged.
Evelyn seemed to be a master at managing him, stroking to calm and cajole. She appealed to his competitive nature by presenting the museum as a place of excellence. A leading institution, indeed. She was the consummate manager of people.
Molly closed her eyes at the image of Evelyn with her pen raised to silence her. Her temper rose. She needed to find a place to shout rude words.
Leaving the frustrations of her meeting behind, she headed to her sanctuary, a small public garden next to the museum. Aptly named Museum Square, the simply designed square patch of civic ground was bordered on two sides by parked cars. A collection of benches placed around the inside edge of the square separated the grass from wide borders. A diagonal path, broken up by tree roots, stretched across, splitting halfway along to encircle a large horse chestnut tree. This tree marked the seasons, signalling the changing patterns of the year. In winter, bare and stark against white skies, the tree seemed to shrink, huddled with those brave or crazy enough to stop awhile and sit. In spring, tentative buds relaxed in the welcome return of the first rays of sunshine. In summer, students rested against its weathered waist reading their books, cool in the shade of branches laden with the soft flutter of green leaves. And in autumn, the debris of crushed conkers bashed free from its branches, littering the ground with evidence of battles won and lost and of time passing as the empty husks curled and browned.
She cherished those moments spent sitting on her favourite bench eating her sandwiches, with her lunchbox at her side and with the sprawling horse chestnut her faithful companion.
Basking in the calm stillness of the beautiful September day, she took off her shoes and let the grass brush against the soles of her feet. She lifted her chin to the cloudless sky. The air was changing from the dry sandy notes of summer to the sweet musk of autumn. The leaves above her were fading, and their greens had softened to mossy shades from vibrant lime. Even the midday light beaming through the canopy seemed weaker now, less luminous, its strongest rays falling on another person sitting on another bench, in another square, in another land.
*Now available to buy at the Bold Strokes Books webstore*
*Now available to pre-order at Amazon*
ISBN-13 978-1-63555-058-0 ebook
ISBN-13 978-1-63555-057-3 paperback
© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.
We spoke to Anna Larner about her books and her writing plans for the future.
(A) TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR LAST PUBLISHED BOOK.
My debut lesbian romance Highland Fling had the working title How Does The Sun Know How To Shine?
Without giving too much of the plot away, early on in the book, Moira Burns (one of the main characters) is worried about her lack of sexual experience and she seeks reassurance from her first love. Her lover responds by saying “How does the sun know how to shine, Moira?” “How does the wind know how to blow?” “How does the rain know how to fall?” helping Moira to understand that her sexuality is as natural as nature itself and is something to be cherished and enjoyed.
It is one of the key messages that I hope readers will take from Highland Fling, along with living your life for today, looking forward, free from regret.
(B) WHAT GOT YOU INTO WRITING?
I attended the ‘States of Independence’ Book Festival held in Leicester’s De Montfort University, back in 2012. Bold Strokes Books hosted a panel on that day, encouraging people to consider writing for an LGBT press. It was a proper lightbulb moment for someone like me with an overactive imagination and a passion for all things LGBT.
(C) CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR WRITING STYLE? HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON PLOTS AND CHARACTERS? ARE YOU A PLANNER OR A PANTSER?
I’m a writer with a lyrical, descriptive style who cares about the detail of things. Bringing to life a setting is important to me, evoking a sense of place and the particular mood of the moment. I’m also keen to portray the uniqueness of each character, what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, and sharing this with the reader.
I’m not sure I decide upon plot and character, it’s more that a place, a person or an event sparks a creative response from which a story begins to form. For example, the idea for my latest work Love’s Portrait came from a creative writing workshop focusing on forgotten female abolitionists. Their passion and courage in the face of opposition was so inspiring that I began to wonder ‘what if’…and how to weave that ‘what if’ into a contemporary love story.
As to whether I’m a planner or a panster…I’m a bit of both. I work to an outline which gives me direction but ultimately the details, the heart of the story emerges from the act of writing, which for me is where the magic lies.
(D) IF YOU HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY?
No, I wouldn’t change a thing. Going back and seeking to change the path of your life feels a bit like flattening out the mountains – with the breathtaking ride of the highs and lows lost in favour of a more plain and certain view.
(E) WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT PROJECT?
I’m currently working on my second novel Love’s Portrait, a contemporary romance infused with a tragic love story from the past. At the heart of the plot is the mystery of a watercolour of a beautiful woman painted in the 1830’s.
Again not trying to give too much of the plot away, it is a love story between Molly Goode (a sweet, quirky, and passionate museum curator) and Georgina Wright (a confident, stylish, but somewhat closed off investment banker) who has inherited the painting through the death of her father.
The theme of the book is about the strength, compassion, and ballsy-ness of women whether it be during the fight for the abolition of slavery or in the fight for LGBT voices to be heard in mainstream society.
Why not check out the ELLCon website for more interviews with authors who are attending the conference. Also you can sign up to their newsletter for book giveaways and get all the latest conference news.
Not long to go now…
© 2016 All rights reserved.