I've decided to wind down Women Rule Writer after 11 years of blogging. It's been lovely but, as blogland has become a bit of a graveyard, I'm done here, at least. Thanks to all my readers and commenters across the years.
I have a new website and there's a blog there which I will update from time to time. It's here.
This starred review of Becoming Belle will appear in the Library Journal in the USA this weekend. VERY happy with it!
Nuala. Becoming Belle. Putnam. Aug. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9780735214408. $25; ebk.
ISBN 9780735214422. F
Isabel Bilton dreams of leaving her home at a Hampshire military base for
London. The oldest daughter of a British officer and his formidable wife,
Isobel struggles against the familial and social expectations that diminish
her. At 19, she fulfills her ambition to go to the capital, where she becomes
Belle Bilton, star of the London stage. Though she relishes the nontraditional
artistic and social freedoms offered by city life, Belle still has to contend
with people who seem compelled to control her. This remains a theme throughout
her life, even after she marries the dashing Irish aristocrat William Trench,
Viscount Dunlo. Their marriage scandalizes Trench’s family and London society.
Undeterred by malicious legal action and the threats of disinheritance, William
and Belle relocate to the Trench family demesne in Ireland, their romance
triumphant. VERDICT As with her debut, Miss Emily,O’Connor
offers a stunning historical reimagining. Her eye for details, including
Victorian dress, food, and technology, enhance her mastery of character and
inner dialog. [See Prepub Alert, 2/26/18.]—John G. Matthews, Washington
State Univ. Libs., Pullman
I'm just back from Cáceres in Spain, and am busily catching up on a hundred emails, a bit of writing, housework, cat-cuddling etc. I was over there to teach a couple of CW classes at the University of Extramadura - my friend Carolina Amador teaches there in the Departamento de Filologia Inglesa - she's a Hiberno-English expert. She had me over to talk to her classes about my story 'Storks', which is set in Cáceres (inspired by my previous trip to that beautiful city) and also to talk about my novel Miss Emily. Her students were great - really engaged and bright; I had a great time speaking with them.
I was put up in a stunning little boutique hotel on the main square, Hotel la Boheme which is decorated in a Moorish style, it's all salvaged tiles, gold sinks, wooden shutters and Moroccan lampshades. Glorious.
We managed to squash in two great museum visits around a hectic schedule of teaching and socialising with Carolina and her family (our daughters are friends too). We saw an exhib of Picasso's sketches at the beautiful Fundacion Mercedes Calles in the old town. I'm Picasso mad so it was a joy to see recognisable sketches that later became paintings.
Carolina also brought us out to Malpartida, to the Museo Vostell, one of the most eccentric and wonderful museums I've been to. A German man bought an abandoned sheep farm and woollen mill and turned it into a gallery for his own modern art and that of his friends, including Yoko Ono. It's a treasure trove of bizarre installations - think cars that rake the ground and rockets fashioned from vehicles and chunks of welded metal.
Cáceres is a bit of a hidden gem - it's 3 hours from Madrid, near the border with Portugal, and it's a gorgeous mix of old and new. It thrilled me - again - to see the huge nesting storks all over the place; to walk the cobbled alleys of the old town; to enjoy delicious cava and Rioja at insanely low prices, as well as local cheese and tapas; to go into the ancient churches and watch them prepare their Easter procession floats. Having friends who live in Cáceres is such a bonus. No doubt we'll be back.