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New Feature for Fans of The Midwife Chronicles

Character Interview: Clare Dupres (age 14)

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Description automatically generated Today, I am interviewing the heroine of Midwife of Normandy. The year is 1668.

Bonjour, Mademoiselle. Would you mind answering a few questions?

Maman will scold me if she finds out I am not studying my midwifery lessons. But if I stand out here by my front gate, I might see Pierre whilst I speak with you. (She looks up and down the dirt road) He comes here for lessons with Papa.

Where is your mother? Perhaps I should ask her permission for this interview.

She has gone off to a birthing. I begged to go with her, but she says I am not ready because I am careless with the herbs she carries in her bag. To be sure, learning the Latin terms is a tiresome business. She will probably return with a chicken or two, payment for her services. When I become a midwife, chickens will not be enough for me. Maman says I have an unchristian attitude, not befitting our Huguenot faith. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in a dirt-floor cottage like this. I intend to be fabulously rich.

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I doubt Midwives earn much. What will you do differently, Mademoiselle Clare?

I shall limit my services to wealthy women—nobility, upper gentry. They have the means to reward me handsomely, considering I will be the only midwife in Normandy (after Maman retires) who has the magic elixir for a pain-free birth. It is a secret formula passed down from my ancestors and it can never be written down. (Clare smiles) Oh, excuse me. I must go back into our cottage and finish studying Culpepper’s Complete Herbal. Check back with me in a few years. By then I will have jewels and gold aplenty and live in a beautiful maison with many servants and my handsome Pierre. He is my cousin, in case you did not know. Au revoir, Madame. What did you say your name was?

My name is Carole Penfield. I am the author who is writing a novel about your life.

Indeed? Well do not forget to include Pierre. (Clare twirls around and skips back to her house)

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

 

ANNOUNCING MY RELAUNCH of Book One

ANNOUNCING MY RELAUNCH of Book One

I am excited to reveal the brand new ebook cover image for Midwife of Normandy. The book was originally published in 2016, but I listened to fans who said the old pink cover (although very pretty) portrayed “fluffy romance.” If you have already read the book, you probably know that this action-filled adventure is anything but fluffy, although it does include Clare’s youthful heartbreak when dashing Pierre leaves France. If you have not read this book, now is the time to download this 2nd edition on your ereader. (Still working on updating the paperback) tinyurl.com/MidwifeNormandy.

Graphical user interface Description automatically generated I am relaunching Midwife of Normandy as part of a newly-retitled three book series “The Midwife Chronicles.” Clare’s gripping story has not been changed, but I have added a new book description on the Amazon product page in addition to the new cover. And included a brief description of book two, Lucina’s Destiny. Jenny Quinlan, cover designer, did an excellent job of selecting darker colors and a bit of gothic atmosphere to better portray the dangers Clare faces when King Louis IV sends his dreaded Dragonnades to capture her family. No, definitely not a fluffy romance. And the answer to the burning question—is there a third book yet? YES! It will be available before Christmas. Share your opinion of my new cover in the COMMENTS section.

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

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