Tuesday 1 July 2014

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear ** Review / Author Q&A / Giveawy **

By July 1914, the ties between Kezia Marchant and Thea Brissenden, friends since girlhood, have become strained - by Thea's passionate embrace of women's suffrage, and by the imminent marriage of Kezia to Thea's brother, Tom, who runs the family farm. 
Yet when Tom enlists to fight for his country and Thea is drawn reluctantly onto the battlefield, the farm becomes Kezia's responsibility. 
Each must find a way to endure the ensuing cataclysm and turmoil. 
As Tom marches to the front lines, and Kezia battles to keep her ordered life from unravelling, they hide their despair in letters and cards filled with stories woven to bring comfort. 
But will well-intended lies and self-deception be of use when they come face to face with the enemy.

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear is published in the UK by Allison and Busby on 1 July 2014.  The Care and Management of Lies is Jacqueline Winspear's ninth book.

Jacqueline Winspear got the inspiration for this novel when she stumbled across a woman's household management book; The Woman's Book - Contains Everything a Woman Ought to Know which was edited by Florence B Jack and first published in London in 1911.  The book not only covered household management, but also had comprehensive sections on cookery, children, home doctor, business, dress, society, careers, and citizenship.

Set just before, and during the First World War; The Care and Management of Lies is a haunting, yet very engaging story that tells of life both behind the trenches and back at home in rural Kent.

Kezia and Thea became best friends when they were both scholarship girls. They formed a bond, sharing new experiences together and considered themselves to be sisters. As they grew up, they grew apart - with Thea risking her liberty by taking part in anti-war demonstrations, whilst Kezia fell in love with Thea's brother Tom. Kezia and Tom married and Kezia was determined that she would be the best farmer's wife in Kent. Throwing herself into an almost alien way of life; cooking, helping on the farm, Kezia thrived and Tom wondered how he had been so fortunate to find this practical, passionate woman.

When war is declared, both Tom and Thea join up and find themselves on the frontline. Tom's sense of duty forced him to follow the village men into the Army, whilst Thea took the opportunity to distance herself from the increasingly violent protests that her friends were becoming involved with.

Kezia is left to run the farm herself, with just the help of a couple of elderly and unfit men. Turning to the Woman's Book that Thea gave her when she married, she started to create wonderfully delicious dinners for her absent husband.  Cooking the meals, and then describing them in fine detail in letters to Tom made Kezia feel as though she was doing something for the war effort. Whilst Tom cheered the hungry, cold and scared soldiers by reading out the descriptions of these succulent treats.

The Care and Management of Lies is an unusual story, giving a different aspect to this dreadful and ferocious war. Jacqueline Winspear has vividly portrayed life behind the frontline and at home, creating wonderfully lifelike characters who the reader can really relate to.  I felt as though I too had travelled their journey, and admit to more than a couple of sniffs and sobs along the way.

This is the first time that I have read anything by Jacqueline Winspear and I was very impressed by the strength of feeling that her writing inspires.  I will most certainly read more of her books.

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the Maisie Dobbs novels, most recently Leaving Everything Most Loved, which debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity. 

Originally from the UK, Jacqueline Winspear now lives in California. 

For more information check out her website www.jacquelinewinspear.com

I am delighted to welcome Jacqueline Winspear here to Random Things today, and hope you enjoy the Question and Answer session below.  I also have five copies of The Care and Management of Lies to give away - supplied by the great folk at Allison and Busby.  To be in with a chance of winning a copy, please fill out the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post. UK entries only please.   Let me know if you'd like a hardback copy or an iBooks download copy.   Good luck!

Do you read reviews of your novels? Do you take them seriously? 
I read reviews of novels if my editor or literary agent send them to me.  Otherwise, I try to keep away from reviews.  A review reflects an opinion, and as an opinion it belongs to the person who wrote the review – what we say and how we express ourselves reflects so much about us (education, cultural influences, mood, personal likes and dislikes) – so it’s probably best to keep away.  I once heard someone say that if you believe all your good reviews, you have to believe all the bad reviews, so best not to read either.

How long does it take to write a novel? 
There’s the actual writing time, which is quantifiable (about 3-6 months for first draft, dependent upon how much travel I have to do while in the process) and there’s the “thinking” time – which can be years!  I first had the idea for The Care and Management of Lies some 32 years ago – long before I ever became a published author – so it was stewing in my mind for a long time.  I had the idea for The Mapping of Love and Death in 2004, but I didn’t start writing until several years later.   Part of my process is a lot of background research – something I am doing all the time.

Do you have any writing rituals? 
This question always tickles me – I mean, does anyone ask their doctor if they have any “doctoring rituals” or the postman if they have “mail delivery rituals.”  For some reason, there is a sense that those engaged in artistic or creative endeavor should have “rituals.”  Here’s what one writer said when asked this question, and I think it should be a lesson for so many of us:

“Nine to five, Monday to Friday – I write.”

So no – I don’t have rituals, though like most people there is a rhythm to my day, and unless I am traveling (I am in the UK four or five times each year, and have a fair bit of writing-related travel) I like to stick to the same daily chain of events.

Rise early-ish (5:30am)
Write for a couple of hours
Walk the dog (she’s not an early riser)
Have breakfast (oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts)
Write for another four hours
Stretch and wonder if I should be taking a joint supplement
Go to stables and ride my horses
Come home, shower
Write for another couple of hours
Remember I haven’t had lunch, so have great big doorstep slice of toast with marmalade and a cup of tea
Walk dog
Catch up with daily “admin”
Cook dinner and watch a movie with my husband, or I read.
Fall into bed, usually with a quick prayer of thanks for giving me so many things to do in my day that I truly love to do, I mean, writing, riding, walking a dog and sitting down to dinner with a great guy – it’s as good as it gets, no matter how challenging the writing (and no one said it was easy).

What was your favourite childhood book?
Any one of the Jill” books by Ruby Ferguson, though I think “Jill Has Two Ponies” ultimately had something to do with the fact that I now have two horses – one of them jet black (I mean, every horse-loving girl must have her black beauty!).  And Jill was such a spirited character; you wanted to be like her!

Name one book that made you laugh?
The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson.  Well, everything by Bill Bryson, I think he’s hilarious!

Name one book that made you cry?
The Call of the Wild by Jack London – my mother took it away from me because I cried so much I made myself sick.

Which fictional character would you like to meet?
Oh come on – Darcy, of course!!!  No, that’s tongue in cheek.  I’m not sure that I want to meet characters – they are best left on the page and in my imagination.

Which book would you give to your best friend as a present?
A Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Are you inspired by any particular author or book?
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald .

I am inspired because it was so different for its day .  It was spare, and with such imagery and metaphor, I absolutely loved it – and it really marked the dividing line between my immersion in the classics of literature and my love of more modern authors, bringing me to that cadre of post WW1 American authors in particular.

In addition, I as a writer I am inspired by Susan Howatch – author of a string of successful historical novels and two series of books immersed in life within the Church of England.  She inspired me because she brought a depth of scholarship to commercial fiction  - her work has intellectual heft, demonstrates well-paced storytelling, crackles with wit, and immerses the reader in the human condition while absolutely entertaining them with what used to be called a “thumping good read.”  With the Starbridge series, academia began to take notice, so her accolades have come from those who consider themselves the intellectual elite, to millions of passionate readers across the globe.  Amazing writer – to have “airport exposure” and be read with respect in the hallowed halls of higher learning. 

What is your guilty pleasure read? 
I don’t have one. I would never feel guilty about reading.

Who are your favourite authors?
This is hard – I have loved so many authors, but here’s a smattering to show a cross-section of my reading interests, in no particular order. 

And more recently, here’s a short list of authors whose books I would always read, off the top of my head  …

And I love those Canadian authors:

I also love to read poetry – the following represent contemporary poets whose work I keep close at hand:

What book have you re-read?
When I was a kid I read The Trouble With Angels by Jane Trahey so many times, the book fell to pieces – I found it funny, irreverent, and ultimately a little sad.  

What book have you given up on?
I wouldn’t answer this one – writing a book and getting it out there is hard enough without another author telling the world she gave up on your book!

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  1. Thanks for sharing your review Anne, this sounds a lovely read, I would love to win a hardback copy.

  2. Thanks Anne for a great interview, review and giveaway. I would love to have a hard back copy of I was lucky enough to win !

  3. Interesting interview Anne. Thanks for the giveaway. If I won I would like a hardback copy for my Mum. The storyline makes you realise how hard it must have been to live through both wars, and how easy we have it nowadays in comparison.

  4. I like the sound of this one. If I was lucky I would go for the hardback please. Found the post and interview very good,

  5. Thank you kindly. Looking forward to reading it in ibook.