Beatriz Williams – Romance & Heroism

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2017!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate this awesome genre! Come back every day to read all three “Power of Romance” posts. Check out the full calendar of authors here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook.

Happy August!

#LoveRomance

Exploring Human Experience

When I was about seven years old, my parents first started taking me to the opera with them. I remember watching Don Giovanni at the Seattle Opera when the entire orchestra was on strike and a pair of grand pianos accompanied the singers, and I remember how a horse nearly fell into the orchestra pit during the Grand March of Aida. I remember listening to complete recordings in the car as we drove along the highway, and I remember watching Live From the Met telecasts in starstruck awe. I remember arranging myself as Desdemona’s picturesque corpse because of my new, flowing white nightgown, and I remember the Valkyrie costumes my mother made for me and my sister at Halloween.

Now, you can speculate all you like on the psychological damage all this inflicted on our young minds, and I’m not going to argue with you. To put things succinctly, I was not one of the Cool Kids. But time heals all, and I’m no longer ashamed of my operatic past. In fact, it’s made me the storyteller I am today. No other art form celebrates the power of love so profoundly, so movingly as opera. What gives human meaning to the political struggle between secular and ecclesiastical power in Don Carlo? The desperate, impossible (and, incidentally, not-historically-accurate) love between Carlo and his father’s new bride, Elisabeth of Valois. For what does Brünnhilde renounce the world of the gods? Her love for Siegfried. I can’t think of a single opera in which romantic human love doesn’t play a vital, even a driving role—opera starts and ends with love, with the sacrifice love demands of us, with the ultimate hold love commands on us. In the electric chemistry between Placido Domingo and Renata Scotto in the Metropolitan Opera’s 1980 production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, I learned everything I needed to know about passion. (My husband, no fool, proposed to me before the fountains at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center.)

Today, of course, romance is no longer in fashion. To write about love and sex is to banish yourself instantly from the world of “serious” writers and “high” art, because love invites heroism and heroism, as any thinking person knows, is merely a triumphalist construct and not a real thing. But I don’t give a damn. I side with Verdi and Wagner, with Puccini and Bellini. I want to be moved. I want to understand and explore the extreme edge of human experience. I want to know what’s worth living for and dying for. I want the power of romance. (And if it’s set to music, all the better.)

Beatriz recommends:

I am forever a fan of my writing buddies, Karen White and Lauren Willig.

Karen’s latest The Night the Lights Went Out is a brilliant suburban thriller with strokes of Georgia history

www.karen-white.com    –    @Amazon

Lauren Willig’s upcoming The English Wife turns a Gilded Age murder into an enthralling Gothic mystery.

laurenwillig.com    –    @Amazon

My two new discoveries this year are Anya Seton, whose classic novel Katherine dazzled me for days, and Jillian Cantor, whose The Lost Letter movingly depicts the anguish of lovers separated by the course of war.

Read More about Anya Seton @Wikipedia   –    @Amazon

Jillian Cantor    @Amazon

 

(Willig, White & Williams will have another book out too, someday. If you missed The Forgotten Room, I highly recommend it! ~ Bobbi)


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment when you felt or were aware of the power of romance.

Like many of us, my first book boyfriend was Almanzo Wilder and my first romance was These Happy Golden Years. I read the entire series when I was quite young, but even at that age the subtle, gently-told love story between Laura and Almanzo—to say nothing of his heroism saving the town during the Long Winter—absolutely transfixed me. I loved Almanzo’s quiet strength, his patience, his appreciation for Laura’s gifts, and I loved how their love acted as a kind of amplifier to the story, making every detail more vivid and every act more telling. The lessons here were twofold—first, that romance strikes at the heart of what it means to be human, that it raises the stakes of every story. Second, that the greatest tool in storytelling is restraint.

Tell us about an object that has powerful memories for you.

Obsessed with history as I am, I tend to get much more sentimental about objects connected to someone else’s past than to my own! But I’m deeply attached to the old wooden box in which I’ve the notes and cards my husband gave to me in the early years of our relationship.

Tell us about a word that has power for you.

Fidelity. Like all powerful words, it has so many layers of meaning – not just sexual monogamy, but a deeper spiritual loyalty, faithfulness, honor itself. It is integrity put to the test. I think of Fidelio—Beethoven’s breathtaking only opera—and the reverence in which he holds this bond between wife and husband. All my novels deal, to lesser or greater extent, with the loyalty that love demands of us, and the betrayal we feel when that loyalty is broken. Our need for trust is one of the most essential aspects of human nature.

Tell us about a powerful book you read this year (or one that’s so powerful you’ve never forgotten it).

As I was researching my upcoming Juliana Gray book, A Strange Scottish Shore, I did a fair amount of reading on medieval Britain, which led me inevitably back to John of Gaunt, a historical figure who has always fascinated me, not least because of the stirring speech given to him by Shakespeare in Richard II. I realized I had never read Anya Seton’s classic novel Katherine, about his love affair with (and eventual marriage to) Katherine Swynford, who bore him four children that eventually gave rise to the current branch of the royal family. So I ordered the book as my reward for finishing A Strange Scottish Shore, and absolutely tore through it in one sleepless twenty-four-hour read. If there’s one novel that conveys the power of romance—to enthrall readers, to change to course of history—this is it, movingly and beautifully told.

Tell us about a person who’s had a powerful influence on your life.

Vera Britton

I’m going to leave aside the obvious influences of family and friends and turn to Vera Brittain, whose memoir Testament of Youth opened my eyes to the tragedy of the First World War and its long-reaching effects on the course of the twentieth century—not just in terms of historical facts, but as the catalyst for the development of modern culture. For me, she illuminated the struggle of an entire generation to come to grips with tragedy and with the disillusionment of a once-idealistic youth, and there was no turning back for me after that. It’s the reason why all my books are set, in whole or in part, during the first half of the twentieth century, and it forms the long backbone of theme that runs through them.

Main Drawing:

Beatriz is generously giving away: a bundle of her Twenties trio – COCOA BEACH, A CERTAIN AGE, and THE WICKED CITY, as well as an ARC of her upcoming Juliana Gray release, A STRANGE SCOTTISH SHORE to one lucky reader!

To enter, leave a message below. (US only, apologies to international friends.)

She is also sponsoring a tote & cup combo! (see below for more information)

***
There are many more drawings too—including international book bundles! See the bottom of the post for more information.

 

 


Beatriz Williams is the New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Along the Infinite Sea, A Certain Age, and several other works of historical fiction. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization. Beatriz’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

 

Learn more:

beatrizwilliams.com   |    Facebook     |    Twitter @authorbeatriz

 

Buy Beatriz’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

 

Buy Juliana Gray’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!


MORE DRAWINGS!

Each RARM post will have one main drawing each day (posted above). Authors are also contributing to weekly bundles, which will be drawn at the end of the week. Each bundle will consist of at least five books and the amount of bundles will depend on the amount of books the authors contribute.

(Beatriz/Juliana is contributing to all of the drawings below.)

To enter to win these bundles, send an email to Week1@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “Bundles” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

International friends!

Rather than individual drawings off posts, this year we’ll do sets of books, 3+, depending on how many authors contribute. To enter, send an email to Week1@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “International” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

For the 5th Annual Read-A-Romance Month, many of the contributing authors (including are supporting an extra-special drawing – high quality tote bags and mugs printed with a fun, pro-romance image (see below).

Read-A-Romance Month, through the generous support of many of the authors, is giving away at least 30 mug & tote combos.

Plus, at least two lucky winners will win a Read-A-Romance Month “Month of Books” Mega Bundle, consisting of 31 books!

To enter these exciting drawings,  send an email to August@ReadARomanceMonth.com (US only, apologies to international friends – though keep an eye out later in the month. I may include a couple of international bundles.)

You will not be automatically added to a newsletter, and I promise not to sell or give your email addresses to anyone. I do reserve the right to send you an invitation to sign up for my newsletter, which will also have opportunities to win more prizes and great romance reading tips!

 

Check out all three great posts everyday in August at ReadARomanceMonth.com.  Or you can find the posts on the RARM Facebook page.  Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.

#LoveRomance  #HappyReading  #ReadARomance

  • Anna

    I just finished Cocoa Beach and really enjoyed it! Thanks!

    Do you have a favorite opera?

  • Judy C.

    Wonderful blog. Enjoyed it so much.

  • Richie Goff

    Thanks for doing so many wonderful Giveaways, Beatriz! Love all your books :)!

  • Sue G.

    Another new author to add to my list! I enjoy reading stories where real history is intertwined with the story. I found a new author, K. C. Bateman who has written stories like this!

  • Buffy Leeb

    I so enjoyed your post. Loved it. Thank you.

  • Kathy Nye

    Katherine is on my keeper shelf. Nice to find another fan.

  • Julie Nieves

    Anya Seton’s Katherine is such a lovely story. It’s one of those books that leave me feeling melancholy for days after reading it.

    Thank you so much for a chance to win!

  • Sally Schmidt

    So much to add to my TBR from your comments. I get so tired of the raised eyebrows when someone asks what I’m reading and I say a Romance. The best “serious” books are the best because they have romance in them too.

  • Aura

    I love reading all different genres but I love a good romance novel that has a strong beautiful heroine.

  • Meg Napier

    Thanks for the great post. Now I have to go search down Beethoven’s opera as it’s an unknown for me!

  • Judy Goodnight

    Excellent post! I will have to listen to Fidelio. My favorite aria thus far is Nessun Dorma. I have a recording of Pavarotti singing it that just touches your soul.

  • Casey McCraw

    I’ve never read Katherine either, but now I’m going to have to read it!! Thank you for the recommendation. 🙂

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I loved your post and enjoy your books.

  • Jennifer Huelsebusch

    Love Beatriz’s books!!!

  • Pat Dupuy

    I love stories which take place in the teens and twenties. That was such an earthshaking time period for everyone. Keep up the good work!

  • rebecca moe

    Lovely post! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Patty Vasquez

    I confess, I don’t know much about opera. However, your comment about how opera begins and ends with love reminds me of country western music, a uniquely American form of music. I was listening to a country station today and paying attention to the lyrics. I was amazed at how closely many of the songs matched the romance novels I’ve read this summer in terms of theme, character, and passion. Thank you for your interesting essay.

  • Susan Illis

    I loved reading Anya Seton many years ago; I may have to reread some of her books (once my TBR pile is somewhat under control). I love your books!

  • MaryC

    I grew up listening to classical music ( Dad’s favorite) and Broadway cast albums (Mom’s favorite).

  • M.l. Leigh

    I’ve just started reading books set in the early part of the 20th century – Anna Lee Huber’s new series is set right after World War 1 and you can understand the letting loose of the 1920s after reading about how the war changed so many young lives forever.

  • Kelly Jetzer

    Your books are amazing! I’ve read your first seven novels, and am impatiently waiting for my library copies of The Wicked City and Cocoa Beach. Keep the great stories coming!!

  • Wendi Rogers

    Pucinni! Is there any other reason to learn Italian? Opera’s roots in larger-than-life Romance is what makes it so amazing. Thank you, for pointing this out.

  • Cynthia

    This author is new to me. I loved this post and can’t wait to look up her books.

  • catslady

    I enjoy opera – some languages more than others. Just as some romances strike a cord more than others. Thanks.

  • Karen

    I really enjoyed your post! I will have to add Katherine to my TBR pile!

  • Dianne Nickel Casey

    I really enjoy reading historical fiction. I especially like reading about the 1920’s era. It was such a colorful time period. I haven’t read Katherine, but I’m adding to my TBR list.

  • Renny T

    Vera Brittain is an inspiration for me as well. I was lucky enough to work and study with several people who knew her toward the end of her life and have shared wonderful stories of her. Perhaps that is also why I’ve enjoyed your books as well. 🙂

  • Catherine

    Read them all, now I want to own them!

  • Pamby50

    The very first opera I went to was in 8th grade at The Civic Opera House in Chicago. We saw the King and I. It was amazing. My love was ballet.

  • Michele H.

    Interested to read more. Thanks, Beatriz!

  • Glenda

    I admit I’ve never been an opera fan, but I can say that I believe that being one of the ‘cool kids’ is overrated.

    ” (L)ove invites heroism and heroism, as any thinking person knows, is merely a triumphalist construct and not a real thing.” Another example of how misguided and sad those who strive to be taken seriously and don’t believe in romance can be. There are all sorts of heroism — including the small acts that when added together create an amazing demonstration of love.

  • Alyn Yang

    I used to have a shoe box full of letters and notes from all my friends in HS. Then they got tossed out by my mom when I went off to college.

  • I absolutely love the eloquence with which Beatriz describes the import of opera. I love opera! Sometimes it can be quite a lonely genre to love in the music world. But Beatriz articulated the visceral reason why I love it so much. I’m also excited to try the recommendations she gave. Thank you so much for this post.

  • Kristine R

    That is so cool that your husband proposed to you at the fountains at the Metropolitan Opera House. Don Giovanni was the first opera my parents took me to when I was thirteen, it was quite an experience.

  • Nicole Marie

    I really enjoyed your post and I am looking forward to reading your books!

  • Anna Campbell

    Beatriz, what a lovely post! I was absolutely obsessed with Katherine when I was an early teen. It’s one of those books, isn’t it? Got a thrill in 2004 when I saw her tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. The moment swept me right back to my 13-year-old self.

  • Molly

    I loved learning more about operas.

  • Kezia King

    When I was little a small touring opera company came to town and performed for my elementary school. I remember thinking opera was super lame and it was going to be so boring. I was absolutely mesmerized. I don’t remember the story but I do remember being incredibly moved. I think that one experience changed my life. I think i began to see the value and beauty in the arts like I hadn’t before. And, no, I was never one of the cool kids. Lol!

  • KATHERINE! A woman after my own heart. I have posts across the Internet about my love of this book, and her story, so much so that my most recent book, RUMORS AT COURT, includes Katherine and John (and his wife Constanza) as secondary characters. Proof, I always say, that love can change the course of history!

    • Read-A-Romance

      at least three of the 2017 authors rec’ed this book. I can’t remember who the 3rd was – Elizabeth Essex maybe? Will find it soon. xoxo

  • Kimberly Johnston

    My mom loves your books, especially “Cocoa Beach”

    • Read-A-Romance

      Hi Kimberly!

      You’re the winner of Beatriz’ main giveaway!

      You should be hearing from me via email later today.

      Congratulations! xo

      Bobbi

      • Kimberly Johnston

        I received my books and I am so excited to start them, and my extra prize also. Thank you so very much! I am a brain surgery survivor and I am home while the kids are at school and this will give me something exciting to do to escape to the 20s.
        I’m looking very forward to all of them.
        Thank you again!!

        • Read-A-Romance

          thanks so much! (sorry it took me so long to get back to you.) xoxo

  • Kimberly Johnston

    Ahhh, it’s says I’m a winner. I couldn’t be happier!