Book Club Video Experiment

C:\Users\Carole\Pictures\verde writers critique circle.jpg I was recently contacted by a friend who lives in Boise, Idaho. Her book club members read Midwife of Normandy and invited the author (me) to attend their discussion group. Since I live in Arizona, we tried an experiment. Using the app GoogleDuo on my Android device, I was able to participate for an hour via live video chat. The amazing part is that my friend has an Apple iPad, yet our devices were compatible. Her book club sat at a round table and rotated her device on a turntable so I could talk face-to-face with each group member, as if I were sitting there with them. The sound quality was excellent, as was the video. They enthusiastically invited me back next spring, when they plan to read my second book, Lucina’s Destiny.

Are you a member of a book club that is reading one of my books? If so, please contact me if you are interested in having me participate via GoogleDuo.

 

Author Interview re Midwife of Normandy

I was interviewed for the Literary Titan website, after being awarded a silver 4 star award for my first novel..  Hope this provides insight into my reasons for choosing this historical period and imagining what life was like for Huguenots living in 17th century France.

MIDWIFE OF NORMANDY October, 2018

Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.

I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.

After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy (see snapshot above), I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.

I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?

Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.

In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.

Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?

Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.

At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.

Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on Amazon.com. It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.

Links: GoodReads

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Website: carolepenfield.com

 

Of Bookstores and Fictional Characters

I have always been a fan of bookstores. Today, I daresay most readers purchase their books online—either as paperbacks or ebooks. Kudos to brave independent book store owners who try to save their businesses.
This morning as I was perusing my local newspaper—The Camp Verde Bugle—I was touched by a letter to the editor written by the owner of “Hooked on Books” in nearby Cottonwood, Arizona. Circumstances forced him to either close his store or relocate to something more economical. Fortunately, he found a smaller but less expensive location and was helped moving and setting up 45,000 books to another spot by a host of volunteers. The following thoughts are excerpted from his letter:
“Books, their preservation and availability, are extremely important for mankind. Books are low tech; tangible; easily used and stored; can last for centuries; and have the distinction of being unalterable once in print and distributed. They are made of fibre and ink, but with their common availability the last 500 years even the poorest individual has access to them.
“For me books are more than objects to buy and sell and make money. Books represent the stored thoughts of people. Those stored thoughts are manifested in the books in many ways. [L]ook at words on a page and travel anywhere, even to places and settings that exist only in the mind of the author until the thoughts are put to paper. Once on paper the thoughts can be embraced by millions of people even to the point where people in conversation will talk about the characters and places mentioned in the book. The characters have now been embued with life by the creator, being the author. That is tremendous power a skilled writer with an imagination has. The characters can inform, stimulate, enthuse, bring tears of joy and sadness.”

During a recent car journey to Utah, along back roads where radio broadcasts were nonexistent and cell phone service sketchy at best, my husband and I had uninterrupted time to just plain converse. As the miles passed, our discussion turned to the characters in my novels as if they were living, breathing human acquaintances.
I confessed how difficult it had been to write about the deaths of some of my favorite characters in Lucina’s Destiny. It had taken a toll on my energy as author and creator of their lives. I recalled tears streaming down my face, dripping on the keyboard. Even during the rewriting and editing of those chapters, I understood the necessity of “doing away” with these characters but even so, my emotional response was sadness. (No spoilers here if you haven’t yet read the book. The novel is thought-provoking and some scenes will bring a smile to your face.)
In any case, I am glad I decided to release my novels in paperback, as well as ebook format. I take pleasure in knowing they “have the distinction of being unalterable, once in print.” Some day in the future, a dog-eared used copy of my work may end up for sale on the shelves at “Hooked on Books.”

A beautiful portrait

It was August 5, 2016 when I discovered this painting on Pinterest. It reminded me of Clare Dupres and her daughter Lucina.

Two years ago, as I was making final revisions to Midwife of Normandy, I found this image of a 17th century painting.  It reminded me so much of Clare Dupres combing her daughter Lucina’s curls, that I changed the color of Clare’s wedding gown to match. This is the type of gown a French lady of quality would have worn back in 1684.  And Clare did have a set of pearls that Jacques gave her for their anniversary.

When I researched the painting, I discovered that the child was actually a little boy!  Yes, it was difficult back then to tell young boys from girls. So this would most likely have been her son Jean-Pierre.  Continue reading “A beautiful portrait”

Meet the Doll Book Club

20180715_103821In July, the members of the Doll Book Club chose Midwife of Normandy for their monthly discussion.  They recommended it to all their doll friends and look forward to reading Lucina’s Destiny at their next meeting!

FYI: Author Carole Penfield is an avid doll collector, as well as an enthusiastic reader of historical fiction novels. These are among the 200+ dolls in her personal collection.

Winner of Golden Inkwell Award

Carole was recently presented with the Golden Inkwell Award for Meritorious Achievement following publication of Midwife of Normandy by Honey J. Rubin, president of the Verde Writers Critique Circle. golden-inkwell-award

What Jane was thinking about..

jane-plate-2-compressed-20161201_102202

Cassandra Austen painted her famous sister, but what was Jane staring at? I like to imagine she was admiring author Carole Penfield and her husband Perry, dressed in their regency finery for a JASNA garden party. Perhaps Jane was thinking “what an elegant couple. Perhaps I should write a story about them…”

I ordered these personalized paper plates from Zazzle to celebrate Jane Austen’s upcoming birthday celebration this coming December.

Nothing Like a New Hat to Lift one’s Spirits

I love to find hats that remind me of the 17th and 18th centuries. Here is my newest acquisition.  I can imagine Clare Dupres wearing it to tea at Chateau Montjardin. I found it at a local consignment shop, not ten minutes from my home. Perhaps I will wear it to the Author Book Fair at the Beaver Creek Library on January 28th where I will be signing copies of Midwife of Normandy.georgian-hat-compressed-2

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