A big welcome to Tracy Grant, who is visiting here today to share her favorite books about poets!
Many of you may already know Tracy as the author of the Charles & Melanie Fraser books or as the author of the Malcolm & Susanne Rannoch books, beautifully written mysteries set just at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, involving intrigue, spies, and lots of historical cameos from fascinating characters. Her latest, Gilded Deceit, takes place in Italy in 1818. Because who doesn’t want to visit Lake Como?
And now over to Tracy!
My new book, Gilded Deceit, finds former spies Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch and their family fleeing Britain because the truth of Suzanne’s past as a French spy has come to light. The Rannochs take refuge in a villa on Lake Como that Malcolm inherited from his mother. It is the summer of 1818. In researching Gilded Deceit, I realized Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley would all have been in Italy at the same time. The Rannochs have crossed paths with many real historical characters, but mostly political and military figures. The chance to include these three literary giants was too good to pass up. Besides, Byron’s former mistress, Lady Caroline Lamb, has already featured in the series as a childhood friend of ongoing character Cordelia Davenport.
I was both excited and intimidated to work these three towering figures of the romantic era into a story with my fictional characters. But when i actually sat down to write scenes with them, I found their voices (at least my version of their voices) came quite easily.
If you like novels featuring poets, real or fictional, here are some others that might appeal to you…
Possession by A.S. Byatt, a brilliant novel that moves between the story of two fictional 19th century poets and of two modern-day academics unearthing their history. Byatt builds an utterly fascinating world, including the letters and poems of her fictional characters.
The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig, which turns the “insufferably bad” poet Augustus Whittlesby into amazingly appealing hero.
When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris, another enthralling adventure for Sebastian St. Cyr, in which he encounters a three-year-old Alfred Tennyson in the course of a murder investigation that cuts close to home for the future poet and could be said to inspire some of his future works.
Passion by Jude Morgan, a fascinating look at Byron, Shelley, and Keats through the eyes of four women in their lives – Mary Godwin Shelley (a major literary figure in her own right), Lady Caroline Lamb (also a novelist), Fanny Brawne (Keats’ lover), and Augusta Leigh (Byron’s half-sister).
Thanks so much, Tracy! I see many favorites in there…. And, of course, the Lake Como setting makes me think of the fourth (and, alas, last) Julian Kestrel mystery, The Devil in Music, although that involves singing rather than poets. But singing is a kind of poetry, right?
For more poetic entertainment, I would add Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy— because who could possibly forget Fawnhope?
Which are your favorite poet-centric novels?
Tracy has very generously offered to give away one e-copy of Gilded Deceit, so one person will be chosen at random from among the Comments section to receive the latest Malcolm and Susanne adventure. The winner will be announced on Thursday.