Tuesday, January 30, 2024

What is M. A. McLaughlin reading?

Featured at Writers Read: M. A. McLaughlin, author of The Lost Dresses: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
Smile Please, by Jean Rhys

I have been drawn to Rhys’ work for years, from her early novels in the 1920s to her last, brilliant novella, Wide Sargasso Sea, published in 1966. She is a writer’s writer. In every novel, she achieves the perfect balance of lush descriptive imagery with sharp, precise prose—a very difficult thing to achieve. Of all the novelists who have influenced my writing, none have been as significant as Rhys, and I go back to her work time and time again for inspiration. Right now, I’m re-reading her autobiography, Smile Please, begun when she was eighty-five and left unfinished at her death three years later. I always pick it up in January when...[read on]
About The Lost Dresses, from the publisher:
In this rich, atmospheric historical novel, perfect for fans of Brenda Janowitz and Adriana Trigiani, two stories of love and deceit intertwine nearly a hundred years apart in Verona, Italy.

Verona, 1947. Textile historian Marianne Baxter comes to post-war Italy with one thing on her mind: three pristine Victorian dresses, once owned by the famous poet Christina Rossetti. Hidden away in a trunk for nearly a century, they were recently discovered at the Fondazione Museo Menigatti and Marianne’s expertise is needed before they go on exhibit. Still grieving the loss of her husband, the trip is also a reason for Marianne to start over. But when she arrives, she discovers an unsupportive but handsome museum owner, a superstitious local community, and a mysterious letter with a scribbled warning hidden among the dresses.

Verona, 1864. Christina Rossetti returns to her family’s homeland in hopes of leaving her unfulfilled personal life and poetry career in England and beginning a new chapter. After a chance encounter with an old family friend, she finds a gift her father once gave her: a small ornate box with the three Muses carved into the lid. When she stumbles across a secret compartment, Christina finds a letter from her father with an urgent and personal request.

The letter, speaking of a pendant and stolen book that must be returned, connects Marianne and Christina—and leaves them both with more questions than answers. Inspired by the real-life mysteries surrounding poet Christina Rossetti, The Lost Dresses transports readers to Verona with the enchantment and intrigue of Italian art and fashion.
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Writers Read: M. A. McLaughlin.

--Marshal Zeringue