A Guest "If You Like" from Tracy Grant
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.
I’m so bad with remembering book names for a “favorite”. I do remember, however, that a few months ago I finished a romance book about a poet, Beauty and the Mustache, by Penny Reid, that was very sweet.
Sounds interesting, Make Kay! Thanks!
So excited to see Tracy here and can’t wait for the new book! I have to agree with her picks (love the Sebastian St. Cyr series and, obviously, The Garden Intrigue). Possession has been sitting on my shelf for years and maybe I should take this as a sign to finally pick it up. I remember liking the movie when it came out.
Kristin, Possession is wonderful! Highly recommend it. So glad you are looking forward to Gilded Deceit!
The Garden Intrigue was the first to come to mind. I mean who doesn’t love Augustus?
So true! He turns into such a wonderful hero!
Possession, but I do love C S Harris and Garden Intrigue, too. Thank you for the chance to win.
Isn’t Possession amazing? Thinking of these titles, I love the different way the different writers bring the poets to life.
Lauren, I should have included “The Grand Sophy” – one of my favorite Heyers, and if Augustus Fawnhope is not a great poet he is a great character!
I love “Devil in Music”!
I’m a little behind but Suzanne got blown?! GAH!
I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry so I don’t read much about poets. I’ll have to go with Garden Intrigue.
The Rannochs had to flee Britain at the end of “London Gambit” – it opens up lots of interesting possibilities in the series and challenges for the characters!
A must-read, Christine. Sad and exciting and intriguing all at once!
Love Augustus Whittlesby. And Julian Kestrel. And sebastian is poetry in motion. Will Mary be writing Frankenstein? Will Lord Byron be a jerk? Can’t wait to find out.
It’s not long after the release of “Frankenstein.” As to Byron – he was fun and interesting to write. As were Percy and Mary. I was nervous to write all of them but found them really fun once I got going.
Well, it’s not romance, but historical fantasy horror (is that a genre?). Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard features Byron, Keats, and Shelley and was quite the interesting book, as they fight vampires (not the sparkly kind, more the Bram Stoker kind.) So I think it counts as poet-centric, even offering an alternative hypothesis for Keats’s young death.
Sounds fascinating! And suggestions definitely don’t need to be limited to romance – Gilded Deceit is an historical mystery!
Great article, Tracy! This is where I found your books. I’ve read Gilded Deceit, and people will enjoy your portrayal of Byron and the Shelleys.
I loved Garden Intrigue and When Maidens Mourn.
I would also mention The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson – Shakespeare travels to the Virginia Colony under an assumed name, gets shipwrecked in the Bermuda and bases The Tempest on his journey.
Another book would be Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverrini – present day story around a Christmas play, switches back in time to Longfellow’s life as he wrote the poem Christmas Bells. I learned so much.
Those sound fascinating, Betty, particularly “The Gentleman Poet”, especially as I was just at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival!
I love The Garden Intrigue!I love reading all of these suggestions. I always get such great recommendations here. Tracy, congratulations on the release of Gilded Deceit!
Thanks, Paige! And I love the recommendations here too!
Thanks for some wonderful suggestions, Tracy – some, like C S Harris and Lauren, I love as much as your books. And some I will have to pursue. Like Betty, I discovered your books here at Lauren’s blog!
I love it when readers find my books through the books of other writers I admire!
Karen Harper’s Mistress Shakespeare. Favorite poet movie: Bright Star. It examines the life of Keats and Fanny.
Tara, great recommendations! I’ve heard great things about “Mistress Shakespeare” but haven’t read it. And I haven’t managed to see “Bright Star” either – I’m way behind on movies since my daughter was born!
If you like Elizabethan books Karen Harper has written an amazing Queen Elizabeth mystery series as well as quite a few books centering around the Queen herself.
I have read the Keats love letters. Thanks for letting me know about the movie.
You’re welcome! It’s very good.
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My favorites arw The Ghost Orchid: A Novel by Carol Goodman and The Graden of Intrigue. Though looking through Tracy’s recommendations I have some new ideas for my reading list.
So glad you got ideas, Maria!
Possession is a favorite of mine as well. I also love the poetry running through Libertine’s Kiss by Judith James.
Wonderful to find someone else who likes “Possession,” Amy! Will have to check out “Libertine’s Kiss.”
[…] so much to Tracy for the “If You Like” and to everyone for the excellent poetical reading […]
Thanks so much m, Lynne!
Hi Tracy, This is Melissa from the Tudor Guild Gift Shop at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland Oregon. I was on the lookout for you last week when you and Melanie were here. Please get in touch with me about the necklace. The artist is working on it. She broker her leg and moved her home so she got behind in her orders. But I should have it soon. The store is closed now for the winter. We are doing inventory this week but after that I’ll be on lay off. I have included my personal email address for you to reply. I’m so sorry this has taken so long but it is out of my control. Best, Melissa Markell