I’ve just received the copies of the Canadian edition -so good to have it in my hands at last. The picture doesn’t do justice to the highly finger-able raised lettering, or the gloss on the playing cards, nor does it show the deckle fore-edge, but it does look dark and sumptuous. I am thrilled with it, and my Canadian editor says the early orders are great. I know I’d pick it up! It’s now published over there, and in the US too. Fingers crossed for both these editions. There’s a great review in July’s US Booklist:
‘Thomas’ follow-up to her wide-ranging romantic epic, The Kashmir Shawl (2013), takes place within the narrower confines of the Victorian theatrical world but is equally gripping. In 1885, when the charismatic Devil Wix meets Carlo Boldoni, a dwarf with undeniable magical skills, they become a dynamic team whose “box trick” electrifies audiences at a shabby venue in London’s Strand. Devil has grand ambitions,though—“to transform the Palmyra theatre into a palace of illusions . . . it should be a place of wonderment.” The darkly compelling Devil, an unrepentant gambler with a haunted past, grabs readers’
attention from page one. Surrounding him is a varied cast that includes Heinrich Bayer, who unnervingly treats his mechanical dance partner like a real woman, and Eliza Dunlop, a smart, courageous artist’s model hoping for a starring role in Devil’s life. While the background details on stage magic and the theater business are captivating, Devil and Eliza’s ardent love story is the book’s emotional heart, and the ever-changing connections among all its intriguing performers fill it with genuine life and vitality.’
This is very encouraging, particularly as I am caught in the coils of of the sequel – present title DAUGHTER OF THE HOUSE – somewhere around chapter 12. Three-quarters of the way through a book is often a low point for me. The end should be in sight, but it very much isn’t. There are so many strands of the story still to be worked out, so many loose ends to be darned in, and quite a lot of gaping holes without any threads to fill them. I need a significant act of bravery for one of my characters to perform and thus change our opinions of him. What can it be? At this moment I haven’t a clue. But this is the job!
There does always come a day when I suddenly realise I am sprinting to the last chapter, and there is no more exhilarating moment. The actual last page is often an anticlimax, and half an hour later comes the thought – what can I do NEXT?