To mark the holidays, THE BOOK OF GODDESSES e-book is on sale for $3.99. It’s usually priced at $9.99 so this is quite the coup! It can be purchased from Amazon, BN.com, iBookstore US and UK, and can even be given as a gift. I think it would make quite the delectable stocking stuffer for a new e-reader.
Drawing inspiration from the many goddesses honored throughout history, this lavishly illustrated, greatly expanded anniversary edition of Kris Waldherr’s beloved classic pays homage to one hundred of these revered women.
THE BOOK OF GODDESSES is a celebration of the Divine Feminine. Drawing inspiration from the many goddesses honored throughout history, this visually stunning book exquisitely presents one hundred goddesses from traditions and cultures all over the world, along with their stories and symbolic significance. This expanded anniversary edition is structured around the important feminine rites of passage: beginnings, love, motherhood, creativity, strength, and transformations. THE BOOK OF GODDESSES is a testament to the power, passion, wisdom, and beauty of women everywhere, in all stages of life.
With over 130 illustrations and personally designed by Kris Waldherr.
To learn more, click here. And thank you for your support of my work!
Now that the latest draft of THE LILY MAID is in my agent’s able hands, you might be wondering what’s next at Chez Art and Words. Here’s the latest, accompanied by a side of holiday news:
1. Last week I was delighted to learn I’ll be speaking at the Historical Novel Society conference next year as part of a panel discussing literary versus genre historical fiction. I’ll be in illustrious company: my co-panelists include Mary Sharratt (ILLUMINATIONS), Christy English (HOW TO TAME A WILLFUL WIFE), Michelle Cameron (THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS), and Mitchell James Kaplan (BY FIRE, BY WATER).
2. I’ve begun mapping out work for several new digital projects. These include an enhanced e-book of THE LOVER’S PATH (think interactive maps, animated love letters) and an iPhone 5 update for the Goddess Tarot app. I’ve never created an enhanced e-book, so I’m excited to be stretching my tech muscles.
3. I’ve also also been preparing the garden for winter. So far I’ve pruned the fig tree, the honeysuckle, lilacs and roses, as well as cleared away the outdoor furniture. Later, Thea and I plan to plant some bulbs for spring. These activities feel an apt metaphor for how I feel after finishing this draft of THE LILY MAID: the work has been harvested; now it’s time to go fallow to prepare for the next flowering.
4. Even so inspiration has started to toy with me. Yup, I’ve a new idea for a novel. Too soon to talk about it, though I’ve a title and have visualized the first scenes and characters. However, I’m not ready to start writing yet—the well needs to refill a bit more.
5. Finally, in time for the holidays, I’ve updated this site to include prints, mugs, goddess journals, and other gifts. There’s even Doomed Queens-themed ceramic travel mug, for the more cynically inclined. These products are produced exclusively by Cafe Press and are beautifully printed. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out all the gift-worthy goodness!
A quick round up of recent publications by three of my favorite colleagues:
1. My cousin Vicky Alvear Shecter‘s book CLEOPATRA’S MOON was just published by Arthur Levine Books. CLEOPATRA’S MOON is a young adult historical fiction novel about the only surviving child of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. Based on real events and individuals in history, it tells the story of a young woman determined to carve her own future after the tragic loss of everything she’s ever known and everyone she’s ever loved. It’s garnering some much-deserved rave reviews:
“This novel has romance, drama, heartbreak, and adventure…Shecter writes about the world of ancient Egypt and Rome with wonderful detail, making it come alive…A fantastic read with some valuable history.” — School Library Journal
“Fascinating historical novel…Cleopatra Selene proves a stalwart heroine, and the novel’s atmospheric setting and romantic intrigue are highly memorable.”— Publishers Weekly
“The historical context and characters are well drawn…makes for intriguing storytelling…a romantic and exciting story.” — Kirkus
2. The trade edition of Joanna Powell Colbert’s long-awaited Gaian Tarot is finally available from Llewellyn Worldwide. Joanna created the Gaian Tarot to speak directly to the hearts of those who practice an earth-centered spirituality. Though the deck has been available as a collector’s limited edition, I’m pleased that the Gaian will now be available to the world at large. I know how many years Joanna has worked on this project—a real labor of love.
3. Finally, Susanne Dunlap, author of IN THE SHADOW OF THE LAMP, THE MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER and other wonderful historical fiction novels, has branched into iPhone development with several colleagues. Their WordWit app from Ballpoint, Inc. pairs misused words with their evil twins, explains them clearly, and provides entertaining examples from literature and the media. It’s also beautifully designed. A delicious mixture of reference app and game app, WordWit will get people interacting with words in a whole new way. I was fortunate to try the app in beta format—fun and totally addictive. Download WordWit from the App Store.
Congratulations to everyone! But wait, there’s more: In September, I’ll be interviewing Vicky and Joanna about their newest publications. I’m really looking forward to learning more about their creative processes. Plus there will be giveaways of CLEOPATRA’S MOON and the GAIAN TAROT courtesy of Scholastic Books and Llewellyn Worldwide.
Last year, I interviewed acclaimed novelist Stephanie Cowell about her book CLAUDE AND CAMILLE, which relates the little known story of Claude Monet’s first wife, Camille Doncieux. Good news: CLAUDE AND CAMILLE is now available in paperback with a gorgeous new cover—and we’re giving away five copies of it. (Rules and more below.)
Besides CLAUDE AND CAMILLE, Stephanie’s other best-selling novels include MARRYING MOZART and THE PLAYERS. She is currently writing a novel about Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here’s an excerpt from last year’s wonderfully inspiring interview:
KW: CLAUDE & CAMILLE is quite the delectable tearjerker — Camille is such a quicksilver, tragic muse! What was the hardest part about writing about her? What did you find most compelling? Most difficult?
SC: Camille was the most difficult character in the book and the last to develop into a full, complex character. In an early version she was just a sweet young thing from a poverty background, but when I learned her background was upper-class it made a difference. When I was in my early 20’s I knew a few girls, one who kept lying because she wanted to appear fascinating and then didn’t know truth from fiction and a few (me too) who threw away good homes to live in poverty and wash diapers by hand, feeling we were among the genuine people. My editor kept coaxing Camille from me during the editorial stage and she just grew into something we both didn’t expect. Her terror of growing older, her secret letters to an unknown man…that sort of all came to flower (so to speak) towards the end of the writing process.
KW: One of the things I loved about CLAUDE & CAMILLE is the visceral sense of nineteenth century Paris you’ve evoked — the artists’ gatherings with their rough red wine, the scrounging for oil paint, the renting of model’s clothing, and so on. It’s all very La Bohéme. Can you describe your research process? How long did it take? Do you research before you begin to write?
SC: Research takes place before, during and then after in a way. You keep adding things. I love to find bits of daily life and stick them in. I guess I was researching the whole time. Various biographers had different opinions of the characters, and of Camille herself there was very little known at all. I worked with old photographs and paintings and many books. I walked the streets of Paris where Claude had walked and I went to Giverny….
You can read the rest of the interview here.
As I mentioned above, the good people at Crown Books has generously given us five copies of the paperback edition of CLAUDE & CAMILLE to give away. (Not one. Not two. But five!) To win one, simply leave a comment by midnight, April 14, 2011. It’s that simple. However, if you want to spice it up with a recommendation for a novel you recently read and enjoyed, I’ll give you a second entry. I’m always interested to hear what others are reading!
The small print: Only one comment per person. Book can only be shipped to U.S. or Canadian mailing address. Winner will be chosen at random and announced here April 15th. Good luck to all!
It’s no secret: Anyone who knows me well is aware of the influence JANE EYRE has had on my life. Charlotte Bronte’s classic has rocked my world since I was a tween of twelve—I’ve probably read JANE EYRE on an annual basis since then. I’m thankful to my English great-aunt who insisted I read it way back when. (Interestingly, she claimed I’d enjoy the picturesque descriptions of the Yorkshire countryside. Go figure….)
As a sensitive, artistic, and introverted teenager from a complicated home environment, Jane’s character especially spoke to my condition. I loved Bronte’s exploration of class and gender issues; in the nineteenth century, this was especially provocative stuff. On the romantic end, the scenes between Jane and Mr. Rochester are brilliantly written slow-boils of sexual tension. JANE EYRE has even inspired a few tributes in THE LILY MAID, my novel underway. For example, I couldn’t resist naming a little girl Adele, after Jane’s French charge in the novel.
I consider JE “the other Jane” to Jane Austen–her quieter, deeper, more passionate cousin. With all the retellings of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE abounding, I’ve always wondered why no author had ever attempted to update JANE EYRE (to the best of my knowledge, not including WIDE SARGASSO SEA). Anyway, you can imagine how delighted I was when tarotist Diane Wilkes mentioned to me that JANE EYRE had been rewritten as a YA novel. (Well, delighted as well as a bit trepidatious. We JANE EYRE lovers are very protective of our girl!)
JANE EYRE has been recast by author April Lindner as JANE. The good news: JANE is a really fun, well-written read which would be a great gateway drug for teenagers who have yet to read the original Bronte. I sped through it in one sitting, unable to put it down. Since I know the original Bronte so well, I think a lot of my page turning was because I wanted so badly to see how Ms. Lindner would handle each of the original’s plot points: How would she translate them for a twenty-first century teenage audience?
Short answer: I think she did a great job. To make Rochester into the burned out rock star of Nico Rathburn was a brilliant inspiration. Ditto for updating Jane Eyre as an impoverished college drop out with the nom de moderne of Jane Moore. These choices communicate so well the extreme class disjuncture between the original JE and Rochester; of how shocking and impossible their love would be viewed by most of society. I especially liked the author’s handling of the last third of the book, which brings in the subplot of the Rivers siblings. Some reviewers have commented on JANE’s sexual content, but I actually thought it worked very well within the context. After all, this is 2011, not 1847, when the original JE was published. These days, true love leads fairly quickly to tangled sheets (unless you’re Bella Swan). The original JANE EYRE is pretty hot stuff, so it makes sense. I also was thankful for how closely Lindner hewed to the Bronte’s original dialogue, which I’ve always found completely delightful. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
My quibbles with JANE are few and far between, but for the sake of balance, I’ll include them. I do wish that the flashbacks revealing Jane Moore’s unloving, dysfunctional family were better handled and more subtly developed. They felt a bit shoehorned in and a little confusing–the proverbial info dump for the sake of providing backstory and motivation. It’s a challenge, though; the original JE had many, many pages devoted to presenting Jane’s formative years with her relatives-from-hell and subsequent life at Lowood. These reveal her character’s awareness of social hypocrisy and class consciousness, thus clarifying her later choices and actions in the novel. Perhaps this was just too complicated to pull off within the YA constraints?
My other issues probably arise from my love of the original JE. For example, Jane Eyre is this almost fey character (Rochester repeatedly refers to her as fairy-like, of another world), which contrasts so beautifully against his dark cynicism. One really understands their attraction–they’re opposites who have been cut of the same cloth. She serves almost as an angel leading him to personal and spiritual redemption. In JANE, this doesn’t feel so apparent to me; Rathburn seems attracted to Jane Moore because of her blunt honesty and integrity in a world of sycophants. One major plot point (no spoilers) required some serious suspension of disbelief, though for the most part I thought it was handled well.
Overall, JANE is a very enjoyable and well-written retelling of a novel I consider one of the feminist ur-texts. Recommended. I also hope it will encourage teens to read Bronte’s original, which I consider essential reading.
On a related note, it seems like JANE EYRE may be finally getting the film adaptation she deserves. I’m excited by this trailer, which captures the intensely dark, gothic qualities of the book. Can’t wait to see it!
I was also surprised to find JANE EYRE referenced in this Stone Soup comic strip last week.
Also, Jane Eyre Illustrated offers a web-based overview of all of the illustrated versions of JANE EYRE through the centuries. Love it! I have many fond memories of reading the edition illustrated by Nell Booker.
With all this Janeite stuff abounding, maybe it’s just the other Jane’s time? Hmmmmm…..