Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

The Good Woman by Jane Porter (Interview and Review)

Title: The Good Woman
Author: Jane Porter
Publisher: Penguin

About the Book: The firstborn of a large Irish-American family, Meg Brennan Roberts is a successful publicist, faithful wife, and doting mother who prides herself on always making the right decisions. But years of being “the good woman” have taken a toll and though her winery career thrives, Meg feels burned out and empty, and more disconnected than ever from her increasingly distant husband. Lonely and disheartened, she attends the London Wine Fair with her boss, ruggedly handsome vintner, Chad Hallahan. It’s here, alone together in an exotic city, far from “real” life, that Chad confesses his long-standing desire for Meg.

Overwhelmed, flattered, and desperately confused, Meg returns home, only to suddenly question every choice she’s ever made, especially that of her marriage. For Meg, something’s got to give, and for once in her life she flees her responsibilities—but with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating. Now she must decide whether being the person everyone needs is worth losing the woman she was meant to be.


My thoughts:  Even though this book was painful (as in, I could feel Meg's pain) for me to read at times, I really enjoyed it.  Jane Porter did a great job in portraying the hurt and emptiness that Meg was feeling.  As a woman in her 40's myself, I can't say that my life has been all sunshine and roses and there have been rough patches when I felt that I deserved more - so I could relate to some of the story line. 

But this book is about much more than just a woman on the brink - it is about family - the one that you grew up with as well as the one that you create when you marry.  How family can either lift each other up in the hard times are tear each other apart.  That grudges and words hurt whether you are 15 or 45.   It is also about trust and forgiveness and overcoming obstacles in order to get to the heart of the problem - but that you have to have the willingness to admit there is a problem first.  

I will say it again, that I could relate to Meg in part of the story - I'm not sure that I would make the same choices that she did, but I can understand her reasons.  The whole family was realistic - from Meg's mom and dad, to her brother and sisters.  They each had real problems that they were trying to work through, but stayed close despite those problems.  

This is the first book in the Brennan Sisters Trilogy with The Good Daughter due out in February 2013.  I had previously read She's Gone Country by Jane Porter - you can see my review here. 

~I received a complimentary copy of The Good Woman from Penguin in exchange for my unbiased review.~

About the author:  Jane Porter is an award-winning novelist with over 5 million books in print.  She grew up in central California , graduated from UCLA and holds an MA in writing from the University of San Francisco .  Porter writes full time and lives in southern California with her family.  Visit her website at www.janeporter.com.

Jane was nice enough to stop by and answer some questions for me. Please help me welcome her to Books and Needlepoint.

1. How do you typically write? Do you plot it all out beforehand or do you just let the story pour out?
I plot big chunks—road signs and what I believe will be the key turning points—and then write, but I definitely end up detouring and rethinking those scenes that I think will be the big scenes.

2. Do you have a favorite place to write or “must haves” while writing?
I need to be able to control my environment as much as possible—space, lighting, noise, the amount of time I have to write. I don’t do well trying to write in bits and pieces, or with lots of activity going on around me. I can and do write in coffee houses when in a pinch, but then I try to find the quietest place possible, with a corner or wall table with lots of natural lighting and I add my Bose headphones to block out sound. But honestly, my home office—clean and clear and free of clutter—is best. I think I’m getting old.

3. Do you have much say in the title or covers of you books?
Nope. I can say, I do like, I don’t like, or not crazy about it, and here’s why, and they hopefully listen to me but there’s no guarantee.

4. Is there anything that has surprised you about writing, publishing or touring with your books?
Just how hard it all is! People assume (and I used to be one of these people, too!) that all you have to do is get published, and you’ve pretty much got it made because you’re on the ‘inside’ now, but that’s just the start of endless, uphill battles. And it’s all a battle—the writing, the promoting, the marketing and touring and writing while promoting/touring. It’s not a fluffy, relaxing career. 

5. Do you have a favorite author/book or one that you always recommend?
I have so many author friends—virtually all my friends are writers—so its hard to recommend one and not another, or it feels weird to only recommend my friends, and not others, so I tend to focus on my favorite, comfort reads that aren’t necessarily contemporary authors (like Georgette Heyer. Love her!)

6. Was there anything (or anyone) while growing up which helped you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Louisa May Alcott. I loved that Jo, from Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, etc, was a writer. I was also inspired by the author of my other favorite series of books, Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls. Being a writer definitely seemed to be the way to go. And I tried to get published early....I wrote my first picture book in 2nd grade and my first novel in 4th grade. I was pretty serious about becoming a novelist!

7. Do you have a job outside of being an author?
Nope. I write. A lot. And then I try to be a good mom on occasion, too.

8. What would you tell a beginning writer?
That writing is a craft, an art form, and a muscle. You’ve got to develop the craft—and work that muscle. And sometimes we will write with more confidence, and other times we will battle for our story, but not to quit. Don’t ever give up.

9. If you could meet one person who has died, who would that be?
I’d love to meet the James family...Henry James, and his sister Alice who had an amazing mind, and their brother William who was also brilliant. And if they weren’t interested in meeting me, I’d try to get Virginia Wolfe and her sister, the artist Vanessa Bell, to spend an afternoon with me. I love interesting families, and so I’m not surprised I wrote a series like the Brennans because I do think sisters and brothers have tremendous influence on each other, and help shape each other.

10. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would it be?
I don’t think I would. I’d find it too much of a power struggle!  

11. In one sentence, why should we read your book?
Because I’m a storyteller and want nothing more than to grab you and sweep you away for a day.

12. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I love to make myself laugh. I crack myself up—much to the mortification of my boys—and enjoy my jokes a lot. No one else does. But that makes me laugh, too.

13. What do you come up with first when creating your character- the back story, the plot, the characteristics?
I think it depends on the writer, and it probably varies from book to book, too. And honestly I don’t know that you can separate them out. I tend to get an idea and all the bits and pieces are there, together, intertwined.

14. What do you do in your spare time?
Hang out with my kids, annoy them by making them talk to me (and listen to me), read, garden, and I also love to travel. I live to travel. Travel is my poison.

15. What does a day in your life look like?
Wake up, hug, feed kids and kick then out the door and then check email, answer email and get to work. I generally work until 5, and then do more email and business stuff in the evening while sitting on the couch with the kids watching TV. My kids don’t think I come without a laptop attached to my middle. It’s kind of sad.

16. How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
I’m a mom of 3 sons—17, 13, and 3—and no they don’t read my books. And the two older ones are pretty proud of me. They know I work hard, and they like that I’m a ‘different mom’. The 13-year-old worries about my career, though, and has been giving me career advice on becoming bigger (stop writing women’s stories that have no plots and write apocalyptic Young Adult stories like The Hunger Games). The 3-year-old started a new preschool recently and announced that there his friends were Jack and Jane, but little Jane doesn’t write novels. He knows because he asked her.

17. Is there anything else that you would like my readers to know?
We just moved from Greater Seattle to San Clemente, CA which is southern Orange County, so it’s a huge change for all of us and yet really exciting to be having a new adventure as a family.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

The fact that you could feel the character's pain makes me think the book is very well written.

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