Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Miss Morphett’s Macaroons. I’m sharing a guest post from the author with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the tour and Patsy Trench for writing her guest post!
London, 1905. A show. A stuttering romance. Two squabbling actresses.
Is it Shakespeare? Is it Vaudeville?
Not quite. It is Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons, a satirical play about suffragettes which its creators – friends, colleagues and would-be lovers Robbie Robinson and Violet Graham – are preparing to mount in London’s West End.
It is the play rival actresses Merry and Gaye would kill to be in, if only they hadn’t insulted the producer all those years ago.
For Robbie and Violet meanwhile there are backers to be appeased, actors to be tamed and a theatre to be found; and in the midst of it all a budding romance that risks being undermined by professional differences.
Never mix business with pleasure?
Well – maybe, maybe not.
Patsy Trench has written a guest post entitled Romance Or Independence?
Most writers, I would imagine, write – or aspire to write – the sort of books they like to read.
I don’t read romance and I don’t write romance. Romance does appear in my books in some form, but a reader looking for a truly romantic novel might find my books disappointing.
Romance, in the Amazon-search-engine-category sense, does not interest me. Books about women do. I write about women whose prime motivation in life is not necessarily to fall in love, marry and live happily ever after. In two cases and for different reasons my protagonists (Claudia in The Awakening of Claudia Faraday and Violet in The Makings of Violet Frogg, books 1 and 3 in my Modern Women series) are not happy in their marriages. Claudia, thanks to her newly-discovered joy of sex, just about manages to salvage hers. Violet escapes from hers in order to be allowed the freedom to do what she wants and work if and in a way she wants to.
There is a suspicious little voice inside me that says romance and independence don’t mix. This was not obvious to me until I found myself writing about it. This incompatibility so to speak was far more relevant in times past of course, before women had any kind of domestic rights or the freedom to vote. If a woman was unhappily married in Edwardian times, and before then, she could only initiate divorce proceedings if she could prove not just adultery on the part of her husband but cruelty on top of it. And yet the opportunities for women at the time were limited, so marriage was often the only way to avoid destitution.
I am burbling on about this mostly because it has only just occurred to me how much one’s writing can affect one’s thinking. It was not until I invented Violet and her dictatorial husband, who disapproves of her involvement with the women’s suffrage movement, that I truly realised how difficult it is, or was, for a woman to fall in love and remain true to herself.
We write from experience of course, and I have to admit that when I got married I did half expect my husband to transform my life in every way. In that respect, wrongly, I was almost deliberately sacrificing my independence for love and marriage. I didn’t see how the two could live side by side.
A writer is not always in total control of her characters. And nor, if those characters are truly alive, should she be. When Violet left her husband neither she nor I knew what was going to happen next. When she met young Robbie, the floppy-haired writer and critic, I wanted them to fall in love. But something always stood in their way. Violet was still technically married, of course, and unwilling either to initiate a divorce or to start an affair. Robbie had in times past had his heart severely broken and was perhaps tentative about falling in love again. But the real reason, as Violet herself pointed out to me, was that having tasted independence, working behind the scenes for the famed actor-manager Herbert Tree, she didn’t want to lose it. And getting married, in her own experience and in the experience of most women of the time, meant at least having to give up her job and therefore her independence along with it.
We faced this quandary together, Violet and I, in Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons, book four in my Modern Women series. A bit of me – and her – was longing for Robbie and Violet to get together. Another part of us was concerned she would be losing out on one hand in order to gain with the other. And despite everything I have said up until now, ultimately there is nothing on earth so truly wonderful and life-enhancing than falling in love, and staying in love, with another person. And the ideal romance is one in which both sides of the partnership can remain true both to themselves and to their partner.
Maybe I should write romantic novels after all.
Miss Morphett’s Macaroons is available from Amazon.
You can follow the rest of the blog tour here: