by Libby Sternberg, guest blogger and author of Sloane Hall
Sloane Hall, my Jane Eyre-inspired novel, is my first historical in hardcover. My previous women’s fiction releases have been humorous books published under my maiden name, Libby Malin. Sloane Hall, on the other hand, has a serious tone, even a Gothic-like gloom at times as the hero and heroine struggle with past problems and current crises.
In fact, Sloane Hall's hero and heroine are both extremely flawed characters. Will readers embrace a love relationship between a woman who is also an alcoholic and a man who wrestles with inner demons that urge him to strike out against those who hurt him?
I’ve always been attracted to writing flawed heroes and heroines. Even in my humorous books, the heroine usually has some character imperfection that’s kept her from reaching her dreams or finding happiness. I enjoy crafting her journey of transformation as she figures out what she’s been doing wrong and how to take that leap of faith to change it.
But tortured heroes also call out to me. I loved Bronte’s Rochester with his inner torment and his sense of regret. I loved Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby with his painful and misguided yearning for Daisy. And I love today’s romance novelists who introduce readers to men with faults that torture them and those they care for…until they find some form of redemption, usually through a transforming love. I think these heroes are so sympathetic, despite their flaws, because one wants to nurture and heal them.
In Sloane Hall, readers will encounter two extremely flawed characters. John Doyle, the narrator of the book (yes, it’s told from a male point of view!), came from a rough background. His “Lowood School” was a Texas reform school, to which he was sent for beating his abusive stepfather to death in self-defense. He “graduates” from that experience with a big chip on his shoulder and heads to Los Angeles, always ready to raise his fists when he perceives injustice. During one such altercation, he thinks to himself: “I was an avenging angel in the City of the Queen of Angels. Stay out of my way. I was doing God’s work.”
His temper indirectly loses him a job on a film set, and he ends up chauffeuring for Pauline Sloane, a fidgety starlet about to make her first talking picture. From his first encounter with her, he’s both attracted to and angered by her. He’s also wary—his own mother was a drinker, and he recognizes the signs of alcoholism in his skittish employer.
Pauline has more than heavy drinking on her list of faults, however, and one of those flaws ultimately so repulses John that he, like Jane in Bronte’s original, has to decide whether to compromise his very integrity to stay with her or to flee her tempting embrace.
What do John and Pauline see in each other? Like Jane and Rochester, they see honesty, forthrightness and…goodness. They both have been judged harshly by the world, judgments they believe are unfair and untrue. They both know that deep down they are capable of great good and immense affection. They both search for the one person or the one moment when they can change their self-destructive ways and begin the transformative journey that selfless love can trigger. They yearn to find their own better angels.
I hope readers enjoy this story of two very troubled individuals. Whether you’ve read and enjoyed Jane Eyre or not, Sloane Hall tells its own story. It’s a real “book of my heart,” one I hope readers will embrace.
Some early praise has come in, including this lovely review from Fresh Fiction:
“Sternberg never loses sight of the story she's re-telling, but this novel is definitely her own. Readers have things to figure out and look forward to. Her prose flows beautifully with vivid descriptions of people and places, bringing to life a Los Angeles of times gone by. Fans of historical fiction and Jane Eyre in particular will relish this novel, and readers who enjoy a love story should definitely pick this one up.”
Sloane Hall by Libby Sternberg
Hardcover, Five Star, September 2010, ISBN: 9781594149177
In 1920s Hollywood, young John Doyle learns the craft of cinematography when a stupid mistake costs him his job. On a tip, he heads to Sloane Hall, the estate of a famous silent screen actress, Pauline Sloane, where he lands a position as chauffeur. Sloane Hall first offers him peace as he enjoys the bounty of the luxurious home, then unrest as its beautiful namesake returns and starts preparing for her first talking picture. Despite his best efforts to resist, John falls hopelessly in love with his employer. His future brightens, however, when she appears to return his affection, leading to plans for a secret wedding—until other awful secrets intrude, leading to heartbreak and separation. A story of obsession and forgiveness, Libby Sternberg’s Sloane Hall was inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
For more on Sloane Hall, Jane Eyre, and old Hollywood, please visit my blog at www.LibbysBooks.wordpress.com! My website is www.LibbysBooks.com. At both sites, you can read the first two chapters for free. Friend me on Facebook at Libby Sternberg. And do let me know what you think of the book by emailing me at Libby488 (at) yahoo (dot) com.
If you comment on this post within the next 24 hours, your name will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Sloane Hall.