Wednesday, September 7, 2016

#MMBBR #BlogTour #FirstLine The Velvet Hours by @alysonrichman @megtandemlit

ABOUT THE BOOK:From the international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Garden of Letters, comes a story—inspired by true events—of two women pursuing freedom and independence in Paris during WWII.
As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return.

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini, conjuring a tale of love and survival.
Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Madame de Florian and Solange Beaugiron, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved. 

The Velvet Hours explores the unlikely relationship between two women who pursue freedom and independence during uncertain times, as Solange and Marthe’s stories unfold like velvet itself, each stitched with its own shadow and light.

#FirstLine ~ Outside, I could hear the sound of airplanes, and their rumble filled me with unease.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Alyson Richman is the internationally bestselling author of the The Garden of LettersThe Lost Wife, The Last Van GoghThe Rhythm of Memory (previously published as Swedish Tango) andThe Mask Carver's Son. Her novels have been translated into eighteen languages and are known for their rich historical and artistic detail. She lives in Long Island, New York, with her husband and two children.


“Alyson Richman’s writing sings in her evocative new novel set in Paris at the dawn of World War II. The Velvet Hours is a beautiful and compelling portrait of two women facing their unknown past and an unimaginable future as their world begins to crumble.”
— Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

“Alyson Richman deftly weaves fact and fiction to create an enthralling tale of love and sacrifice in The Velvet Hours. Richman slips flawlessly between time periods, her sense of place in depicting Paris in the 1880's and 1940's spot on. The reader navigates the streets of the City of Light alongside Solange and Marthe, two carefully crafted and worthy heroines. The author does a superb job of creating a Paris apartment full of exquisite treasures and a priceless painting, a world of light and shadow, beauty and darkness. Ultimately, this is a carefully wrought story of love, of what the heart chooses to give up, and what it chooses to keep. Highly recommended to readers who enjoyed Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale.”
—Karen WhiteNew York Times bestselling author

“A masterful mix of the glamour of the Belle Epoque and the shadows of impending war as the stories of two generations twist and twine together in delightful, heart-wrenching, and sometimes unexpected ways.”
— Lauren WilligNew York Times bestselling author

“Staggeringly evocative, romantic, heartrending, sensual, and beautifully written.”
—John LescroartNew York Times bestselling author

“Tragedy and hope, love and loss, and the strength to endure are examined through Richman’s graceful writing and powerful characters."

“If you love graceful, mellifluous writing, you should read this book.”
—Jenna BlumNew York Times bestselling author

I’ve always been grateful to have a circle of friends who send me newspaper or magazine articles that they think might inspire a novel. I was particularly lucky when one of my dear friends sent me one several years ago with the subject line blaring in bold letters: “You need to write a story about this!”

The article was indeed the type of story that historical novelists dream about. A treasure-filled apartment was discovered in Paris that had been mysteriously shuttered for over seventy years. It had once belonged to an elusive courtesan by the name of Marthe de Florian. When the apartment was opened, it resembled a time capsule. Thick veils of dust covered sumptuous antiques and gilded mirrors. Most striking of all was a magnificent portrait of Madame de Florian by the 19th century Italian painter, Giovanni Boldini, that hung over the marble fireplace. Adding to the allure, love letters written by the artist were found in Marthe’s vanity. No one knows why Marthe’s granddaughter, Solange Beaugiron, closed the apartment at the start of WWII, but as a historical novelist, I knew I had plenty of rich material from which to craft a novel.

I immediately began the research for my book. I searched the internet for more information about the apartment and the auctioning of its contents. I reached out to a professional art researcher I knew in Europe to see if she could arrange for me to see the Boldini letters that had been discovered in the apartment (although sadly I was told that Solange’s heirs had burned them). I searched birth and death records for Marthe de Florian, soon learning that her real name was Mathilde Beaugiron and that she was born the daughter of a laundress. She had supported herself as a seamstress before reinventing herself as the glamorous “Marthe de Florian.”

As Marthe de Florian was a courtesan, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the women of cultivated pleasure in the Belle Epoque. I read diaries that outlined their beauty regimes and their taste for fine jewelry and clothes. I read Emile Zola to glean more period detail, and also traveled to Paris to walk the footsteps of Madame de Florian from her apartment on the bustling La Square Bruyere to the many fashionable haunts of the day, like Maxims and La Coupole.

I also wanted to learn more about Giovanni Boldini, the artist who painted Marthe de Florian. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has two Boldini paintings in their collection, and I was lucky enough to be able to have them brought up from storage in order to better study the artist’s brushwork so I could better reenact scenes of his painting Marthe in my book. I also traveled to Boldini’s hometown of Ferrara, Italy as well as Venice, where in my novel I devise that Mathilde Beaugiron reinvents herself as Marthe de Florian by taking her new last name from the city’s oldest café, “Florian’s.”

I hope you’ll step back into time with me and unlock the doors of this amazing Paris apartment and learn not only about the fascinating life of Marthe de Florian, but also her granddaughter, Solange Beaugiron, an aspiring writer who strives to record the life of her grandmother as the two of them are thrust into the early days of WWII. The Velvet Hours seeks to show that these women’s lives are like velvet itself, contoured with their own shadow and light.

Alyson Richman is the #I internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Garden of Letters and three other historical novels. Her books have been translated into nineteen languages and The Lost Wife is in development to be a major motion picture. The Velvet Hours will be published in September 2016.

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