The hotel’s lounge has a bookshelf full of books, some that have been there for ages and some that past guests have finished with and left behind. He picked up one that interested him and started to browse through it. I looked up and noticed the title and was immediately taken back to my childhood and to a date when I had first read this book – it was originally published in 1962.
The book was The Escape of the Princess by Jane Lane and it’s a historical novel written about the Princess Clementina Sobieski, the grand-daughter of King John III of Poland who eventually married James Stewart the exiled son of James II of England and became the mother of the prince known as Bonnie Prince Charlie. But this is the story of her life before all that when as Clementina travels from to meet her bridegroom, she is captured and imprisoned in Innsbruck as her cousin tried to prevent the marriage taking place. Captain Charles Wogan, a young Irish supporter of James, was sent to try to rescue the princess and, aided by two Irish kinsmen, another Irish cavalry officer and his young French wife, together with her unpredictable maid, bring her safely to her wedding. This book had intrigued me when I was younger and I had read it avidly for a very special reason – that Charles Wogan was my great-great-great-great-great . . . (I’m not quite sure just how many greats!) grandfather on my mother’s side of the family. In fact I have a very old silver spoon that has the initials CW on it that everyone believes may well have belong to Charles himself.
I read the copy of this story in the library all those years ago, returned the book, and then largely forgot about it . If I remembered it, it was only vaguely – and now here it was right in front of me bringing back all sorts of memories. But this time there was something I could do about it – a quick search of the used book shops on the internet soon found me a copy of this novel for myself and by the time I got home it was waiting for me. I spent a very happy afternoon rereading it and reminding myself of the dramatic and romantic story of Clementina and Charles and their journey.
One of the very best things about having the internet has been being able to do this – to find long ago treasures from my childhood , get hold of copies and reread them. I discovered a really old favourite - Simona’s Jewel (this was old even when I first read it!) and another book by the same author Two of Red and Two of Blue. There were the Romney Marsh Stories of Monica Edwards, too – lots of books that I had once loved so much but hadn’t seen again in years. Interestingly enough, they all had dark, ambiguous, strong heroes – even if those heroes were only 15 or so!
It’s easy to see where my personal alpha heroes in my modern day romance come from when you look back at these childhood stories. And it’s particularly appropriate that I should be thinking about these older books now when the newest book of mine - then one that’s coming out very soon - is inspired by one of favourite ever books, one that swept me away when I first read it (about the same time as The Escape of The Princess) - and that’s Wuthering Heights.
The Return of the Stranger is coming out in the UK just now and is being published in America and Australia in October 2011. (Some people have been worried that this is a copy – or steals from the original. Instead it’s a book that takes Wuthering Heights as its launch point and inspiration. So much so that in fact the Bronte Society at Haworth Parsonage itself has asked me to give a talk about writing this book and using that amazing novel as a starting point. But you don’t have to have read Wuthering Heights to understand it, The Return of The Stranger stands up as a romance all on its own.
I’ll tell you a bit more about The Return of The Stranger next time, when it’s so much closer to the publication date. To celebrate the publication of this book, I’m going to be really busy with a hectic and full Blog Tour that launches on September 11th when I’ll start it all off on my web site. After that, you can follow my tour all over the blogosphere – and maybe win yourself some great prizes of books that you’ll want to remember just as I’ve always remembered these ones. Check out my blog – and this great AuthorPage so you can join in all the fun.
In the meantime, to start things off here – what favourite book from your childhood or youth would you love to find again? Have you tried to track one down? Or like me have you actually found a very special book? I have a book from my backlist for one lucky poster in the comments section.
Kate Walker’s The Return of the Stranger is out now in the UK and published on October 4th in Presents Extra in America or Sexy Romance in Australia. You can find out more details over on Kate's Web site – with all the most up to date news on her blog.