Today we welcome guest blogger Mary Hart Perry, whose new release, The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Daughters, is a July 2012 mainstream historical from Avon Books. The novel focuses on the Princess Louise, perhaps the wildest and most free-spirited of Queen Victoria's daughters — and it's a fascinating story.
Mary Hart Perry is the pen name of Honorary Word Wench Kathryn Johnson, who has visited Word Wenches before to talk about her novel The Gentleman Poet. The author of over forty books, Kathryn is an award-winning, experienced career writer — when Kathryn/Mary talks about books, we all listen and learn! She's here today to tell us a little about how she discovered the story of Princess Louise — and how she transformed the story into a romantic Victorian thriller.
A headstrong English princess. A dashing American Civil War veteran. Add a scandalous secret and threats against the queen by Irish terrorists, and you have a deliciously sensual Victorian thriller. Mary Hart Perry brings you the first of a series of stunning romantic novels starring the five daughters of Queen Victoria.
I was one of the authors lucky enough to read the ARC of this book for a quote and I loved it:
"Romantic, exciting, historically accurate and deliciously imaginative, Mary Hart Perry's THE WILD PRINCESS is a lush and entertaining read that truly delivers. Perry creates a fascinating portrait of Princess Louise — artist, wild child and modern thinker caught in the confines of her mother's strict court — and immerses the reader in a vivid Victorian setting."
~ Susan Fraser King
From Mary Hart Perry: Summering Like Royalty
Victoria was the British monarch who reigned for over 60 years, and whose name gave us the term: the Victorian era. She and her husband, Prince Albert, had nine children. (Buckingham Palace must have been a lively place!) When the royal kids were young the whole family trekked off to their summer retreat, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight. Although Albert, who oversaw their education, kept the children on a very strict study schedule when in London, on the island they had more freedom, more time to play. Some of their “play” still doubled as a teaching tool though. They learned where the food served to them in the nursery came from by cultivating a garden. The princes and princesses also spent a summer trying their little hands at mundane tasks normally handled by servants—such as sweeping up or scrubbing the floor, doing laundry, and baking bread in a little cottage on the property.
One of the princesses, the fourth, was Louise. She became known in Court as the “wild child” of the family for her stubbornness and insistence on doing as she liked. Whether she went along with her father’s teaching games at Osborne, we’ll never know. But she didn’t grow out of her independent streak when she reached her teenage years. She insisted upon enrolling in art school in London, to be trained as a professional artist. The queen refused, thinking the request outrageous. After all, girls simply weren’t educated in the same ways as boys; they were thought to be too fragile and might be influenced in unhealthy ways, if exposed to such things as nude models. The horror! Besides, royals didn’t socialize with commoners. “No, Louise! Absolutely not.” But the princess persisted and won out. Louise became a talented sculptress, one of the few acclaimed female artists of her time.
All of this explains why I so admire this woman and wanted to write a story about and for her. I love her pluck, her courage, her work throughout later years on behalf of the less fortunate. And so Princess Louise became the star of my latest novel, The Wild Princess. And, because this is a very different sort of story (a romantic Victorian thriller) than those I’ve written before, I’m using a new pen name: Mary Hart Perry—my grandmother’s name, actually. Grandma was a Vermont farmer’s wife and closet poet, and she was born in 1881, in the Victorian era. I think of the summer picnics she packed for us to take to the lake, outings not so different, perhaps from Victoria’s family’s picnics. I like to think that she’d have been excited to meet Louise, and also pleased to see her name on my novels. Love you, Grandma!
Kathryn Johnson, aka Mary Hart Perry
Thank you, Kathryn! Much good luck with The Wild Princess — we're all looking forward to this gorgeous read. My own summer vacation is lakeside this year — though not the Isle of Wight, it's lovely downtime. What about you, dear readers — where are you spending your summer vacations? Remember to bring The Wild Princess in your Kindle or your bookbag, wherever you may go!
BOOK GIVEAWAY! For a chance to win a copy of Mary Hart Perry's The Wild Princess — or a Kindle copy if preferred — be sure to comment on this blog. A winner will be chosen at random!