12.20.2006

HH Com 196 (192)

Little is more scandalous for the daughter of a Renaissance shopkeeper than selling her body—unless it is selling her words. Jollande Carlet knows publishing her poems will compromise her reputation. She never imagines it will imperil her life.

Capitalizing on talent and connections, Jollande creates one of the foremost literary circles in cultured Lyon. She is determined to see her poems into print as a tribute to her mother, whose unpublished verse vanished at the time of her death. But before Jollande can complete her manuscript, marriage removes her to a provincial backwater. When her husband dies defending her honor at knife point, Jollande destroys her poems.

She returns to Lyon to find the family business in the grip of her father’s associate, a Genoan with undisclosed ties to her mother and unmistakable designs on Jollande herself. As she counters Marsilio’s ploys, concern for her brother and friends, converted to Calvinism during her absence, thrusts her into a world of covert conventicles and smuggled books. Sparring with the new typesetter at her godfather’s printing shop revives her castigated muse, but this unconvincing heretic’s coziness with the city guard makes her question his every claim. As the personal attacks that plague her broaden into a threat that endangers her family, the press, and the conventicle, Jollande must decide how much she is willing to sacrifice for her art.


You have two different plot threads here but I don't see the link. You've painted the bad guys in very general terms so it's hard to get a sense of the depth of the conflict.

By leading with the poem motif, you've made that seem like the plot of the novel when in the second paragraph it looks like saving the family business is.

Start with her return to Lyon, unable/unwilling to write. Focus.

8 comments:

M. Takhallus. said...

Possibly good book, unfocused hook. I like the premise.

Anonymous said...

This is intriguing. You may have a great manuscript here.

Anonymous said...

Historical fiction is my favortie, so I read your entry with interest.

However, the hook of the story (protecting herself and family and art) could have happened in any era. To grab my attention with a historical, I want to know what about it defines it to the age it is set in. Doing this tells me that it is 'true' historial ficion (with research acomplished) rather than a modern story with modern characters set with a few names and details from a bygone era. The charm of historical fiction (for me) is the culture it is set in. Show me how the characters are authentic, how they behave according to or fight against the real issues/norms of their time. Make it real for me, and I will read it.

RT

Anonymous said...

I agree with MS on this one in that, I thought there were two plots. But the more I look at it, the more I think the plot is her writing. Just because you spend a long time at the beginning of the book developing the fact that she is a talented poet, doesn't mean you have to give it as much weight in the hook. "She's a talented poet, taking after her mother" is sufficient there, then get more into the dilema that's stopping her from writing. That's the key part of the plot, if I'm not mistaken.

Hypergraphia said...

I agree with RT about defining the historical setting and clarifying why it's an integral part of your story. I think this could be a good book.

skybluepinkrose said...

I love literary MCs and historical fiction. I'd read this. But pay close attention to what anonymous RT says about a modern character and conflict inserted into the past. In historical fiction, I want a character who is true to her time, or else I suspect the author's agenda is to validate current sensibilities by implying they're timeless. Not saying you're on the wrong track, just suggesting what to watch for.

Anonymous said...

As a hook, this does need some work (most of which has been discussed above.)

But I would read this book. You have chosen an interesting period and I have a feeling you have a nice lyrical writing style when you get rolling.

Best of all--no vampires, no "parritch," or world domination in sight.

Anonymous said...

As a hook, this does need some work (most of which has been discussed above.)

But I would read this book. You have chosen an interesting period and I have a feeling you have a nice lyrical writing style when you get rolling.

Best of all--no vampires, no "parritch," or world domination in sight.