Today I want to welcome Sallie Day, author of The Palace of Strange Girls! I recently received this book and my review is not finished yet, so here is the synopsis from the publisher:
Blackpool, England, 1959. The Singleton family is on holiday. For seven-year-old Beth, just out of the hospital, this means struggling to fill in her 'I-Spy' book and avoiding her mother Ruth's eagle-eyed supervision. Her sixteen-year-old sister Helen, meanwhile, has befriended a waitress whose fun-loving ways hint at a life beyond Ruth's strict rules.
But times are changing. As foreman of the local cotton mill, Ruth's husband, Jack, is caught between unions and owners whose cost-cutting measures threaten an entire way of life. And his job isn't the only thing at risk. When a letter arrives from Crete, a secret re-emerges from the rubble of Jack's wartime past that could destroy his marriage.
As Helen is tempted outside the safe confines of her mother's stern edicts with dramatic consequences, an unexpected encounter inspires Beth to forge her own path. Over the holiday week, all four Singletons must struggle to find their place in the shifting world of promenade amusements, illicit sex, and stilted afternoon teas in this touching and evocative novel.
I'm so excited to have Sallie here today to tell us a little bit about what inspired her book! Welcome, Sallie!!
The idea for the novel sprang from an impromptu trip back to the Lancashire mill town where I was born. During my long absence everything was so changed as to be unrecognizable. The smoking mill chimneys that had once dominated the skyline were no longer standing and Clean Air legislation of the 70s had put an end to the blanket of smog which used to percolate down into the dirty cobbled streets and terraced houses.
I decided on impulse to go on a walk around the mill area of the town (cotton mills, originally dependent on water power were sited beside fast flowing streams and later weaving sheds were built by the canal and within easy reach of rail / road links. The canal tow path had once passed the backs of several weaving sheds but now all the mills were demolished. Only one mill remained standing, and a passing local told me that even this was due for demolition the following week.
I stood and looked at the weaving shed I had known as a child when my father worked there as a manager. Soon I was lost in memories of the late fifties and sixties when the town was busily engaged in importing cotton from Africa and America and exporting finished cotton goods to the rest of the world. From this memory came more - where we lived, what we wore and our annual holidays in Blackpool.
I was still a small child 1959 and so there was a great deal of background reading to do for the novel - and this in turn inspired more and more memories, all bursting to be set down in writing. However I didn’t want to write a biography. I wanted to write a novel. Fiction is an altogether different beast and requires imagination added to a taste for drama.
Jack Singleton may have begun life as a portrait of my father but very soon he became a character in his own right with an exciting war record, and, in the face of an undemonstrative wife, a weakness for a pretty face. My father was very straight laced in comparison! Nevertheless some of the characters were real - Connie was based on a waitress whom I worked with for the whole of one summer. Other characters, among them Tiger Woman and Cora, were total invention. I had no idea where the story would lead me. I put the Singleton family in a relatively plush hotel and stood back to see what they might do next.
I was prepared to take a back seat where the plot was concerned and content to ‘go with the flow’. Each chapter contained some new discovery, not all of them pleasant. I was saddened by Beth’s isolation and illness but I was downright horrified by Jack’s one night stand with an underage waitress. In the end the novel seemed to have written itself - as if it had been there in my subconscious all the time just waiting for an opportunity to surface!
Thank you so much for joining me here today and giving us a peek at the story behind the story!! I'm always interested in the author's inspiration. In celebration of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I have five copies to give away, courtesy of Hachette. To enter, just leave me a comment here that includes your email address. The winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Enter thru midnight eastern on September 18.
There are many giveaways going on this week to celebrate BBAW, I myself will have several more posted as the week goes on. Be sure to check out the complete list at the BBAW website by clicking any of the BBAW links in this post or the button in the upper left corner.
Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!
- The Tome Traveller
- New Hampshire, United States
- Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.