Dear Readers, I love introducing you to books that catch my fancy. Lady Jane Disappears is just such a book. I personally am not fond of novels written in first person, but this one grabbed me from the first page. The storyline is unique, and the characters three-dimensional. The plot twists often surprised me, and the storyline kept me turning pages. I know you’ll like this story.
Welcome, Joanna. Tell us a little about Lady Jayne Disappears.
This book is the result of asking, “What if an overlooked girl happened to secretly write her family into novels and publish them under a pen name?” Aurelie Harcourt has always created stories, and it’s the way she handles life in a home where she does not belong. She is writing the story of her mother, Lady Jayne, and the family that knew her before she disappeared. Aurelie begins digging into secrets and long-ago love stories to understand the people around her, but more than that, to discover what happened to the mother she’s never met.
Here’s more about the story.
Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s engaging novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.
When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her with just two things: his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll, and his wealthy family, who want very little to do with her.
As Aurelie struggles to adjust to her father’s family and learn the rules of society, she relishes in his parting gift—the beginning of his last story. The story she always wanted to hear about her mother’s mysterious disappearance from the home where she now lives. To complete the novel, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for clues from her relatives and one enigmatic houseguest. Lynhurst Manor is a house built on secrets. Can the arrival of Aurelie Harcourt reveal them all?
Why did you decide to write about serial fiction? Why do you think it had such a great appeal?
Serial fiction resembles those addictive television shows we all anxiously await each week and then discuss passionately with friends. We become attached to characters and eagerly follow their struggles and victories to a grand conclusion, and working-class Victorians felt the same way about their serialized novels. Writing about serial fiction allowed me to delve into a charmingly vintage world while also presenting attitudes and circumstances that resemble our modern world, making the story relatable and relevant to our modern faith walks.
How did you develop the setting of the story? Did you visit a mansion that inspired you?
Big old houses are like characters to me. Each has a distinct personality and backstory just waiting for someone to unravel and understand. I’ve toured, stayed in, and climbed among the ruins of old houses throughout
, and many of my story
ideas come from some unique aspect of a house I saw. I’m deeply fascinated with
the people who have resided in these places, and their stories are so full of
shadows and interesting corners with dark hallways just beyond. Lynhurst is
based on a few different country houses I saw, but most of the layout and
character are taken from Tyntesfield in Great Britain .
It’s a lovely old house with a wealth of stories. Somerset
Debtor’s prison fascinates me. Charles Dickens spent time there when his father was a debtor, and his experiences made it into several of his books. It’s such an odd system, jailing people and keeping them from working until they can pay a debt, and my heart just ached for some of the individual stories I read of debtors. The place was run as a business, designed to scrape up anything of value the prisoners had or acquired from visiting relatives, and that still baffles me.
I’m also enchanted by the idea of pen names, which is an element of my heroine’s story. The Brontë sisters were famous for using them, and I loved the image of them revealing themselves to their publisher in person, as my heroine does in the opening of this novel. There’s also something so captivating to me about a seemingly nondescript person having a sort of secret super power.
Do you relate to Aurelie in any way? Did you have real people that inspired your characters?
Oh yes! Aurelie’s writer heart mirrors my own in so many ways. It was easy to create her struggles through writing and everything that hinders it, because they are problems I’ve walked through countless times. Stories have been a part of my heart and a lens for viewing the world as long as I can remember, just like Aurelie. Her inability to overlook hurting people, her desire to help, and her love of beautiful words are all pages torn out of my own life story. The most similar aspect of her nature, however, is the daughter-heart that looks up to her father as larger than life, painting over all his flaws and embracing him and everything he values. My father is a storyteller and book lover like Aurelie’s, and although he does not struggle with the vices that gripped Aurelie’s father, he has cultivated a strong father-daughter bond with me. It was easy to wring her heart when it came to her father, because mine is just as dear to me as hers is to her.
What lesson(s) do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?
There is one lesson my own heart has had a hard time learning over the years, and it’s the one Aurelie struggles with—if the world fits, you’re the wrong size. Just as Aurelie tries in vain to become a part of her wealthy socialite family, most of us have experienced the desire to belong somewhere, even if it was as unhealthy and broken as Aurelie’s family.
There’s a book I found in college that impacted me on this topic, and years later the truths from it remain with me. It convinced me that if we sometimes didn’t fit in to our earthly surroundings, that was all right. In fact, it was a sign we were doing things well. We all know this world is broken and sinful and messy, so why should we strive to fit into it? The more we resemble Christ, the more we feel at odds in this world. God designed us for a completely different environment that was ruined by sin, and now nothing will ever quite feel right until we’re reunited with God and saturated in his presence for eternity.
In what way would you say your faith is worked into the book?
As I wrote the book, I wrestled with how comfortable I should be in this world. Was it okay to be bothered by certain things, to be rejected by certain people? Should I seek to be content with what was in reach, or was a certain amount of discontent healthy? As my writer mind walked through this story with Aurelie, my Jesus-seeking spirit was working on realigning my motives and efforts with a larger focus than the here-and-now.
I began to appreciate and even embrace some of the countercultural parts of my personality and thinking as I reminded myself that Jesus was the most countercultural thinker ever! Jesus’s answers on success, wealth, priorities, and the value of certain people turned his listeners’ expectations upside down. The biggest one for me is that last one—the value of people. Why does the world automatically write off certain people? The elderly. The introverted. The homeless. Those who messed up in some way.
I’m infinitely content to be countercultural in this respect, and it’s been a passion of mine to reveal hidden value in the people the world so easily sidelines. I bring that into the book through Aurelie—not only does she see value in the debtors but she herself is written off by her own family and comes to understand how Christ values her.
What are you working on next?
My next story takes place in an English vineyard that holds a delightful secret. It features an artist whose only canvas is her room, from furniture to ceiling. Painting is her escape from a competitive search for her family’s fortune, which her father hid before his sudden death. The love story includes little nuggets of my own story, which was a joy to write.
How can readers connect with you?
Readers will find a glimpse of my writer heart and my passions on my website, http://www.jdpstories.com .
I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/joannadavidsonpolitano/ and Twitter at https://www.facebook.com/joannadavidsonpolitano/.
For visual portrayals of my book concepts, find me on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/sunshine39n/ .
Thank you so much, Julianna, for allowing me to share this unique story with my blog readers. I know they’ll be as eager to read the book as I was.
Readers, here are links to the book.Lady Jayne Disappears - Christianbook.com
Lady Jayne Disappears - Amazon paperback
Lady Jayne Disappears - Kindle
Lady Jayne Disappears - Audiobook
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside
North America. (Comments containing links may be subject
to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: