Poisoned Season

A Poisoned Season

by Tasha Alexander

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I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander. Since we’re taking a tour of English history, and we’ve spent some time in the Tudor period, let’s jump forward a bit and visit Victorian England.  It’s the London Season, which means if you’re anybody at all, you have to get all dolled up and go to a lot of parties, drink champagne, flirt, gossip, see and be seen…just sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? I guess it would be fun at first but for the women in this book, it’s a full time job. When we left the Tudor period and their highnesses Henry and Elizabeth, women had a very specific role — producing male heirs, and remaining pious and quiet. The main difference, despite the success of female rulers in England, was that the women now had to look good while they were doing it. The social pressure was still to crank out the male children and not make a fuss.  I think it must have become increasingly difficult for these late Victorian women to be quiet, as the age of reason and science grew up around them. Suffrage was really just around the corner, and you can feel some of these bright, idle women chafing against their corsets.

Certainly the heroine of A Poisoned Season, Lady Emily Ashton, was a woman ahead of her time. In the first novel about Lady Emily, her first husband dies and leaves her very wealthy. So as in every age, having some cash makes behavior charmingly eccentric, not out-and-out loony. Emily has a knack for detective work, and she’s hot on the trail of a jewel thief with a yen for the scattered collection that once belonged to Marie Antoinette — now there’s a woman who thought she did everything right — male heirs, check, not a great big brain, check — and it still didn’t save her in the end. At any rate, the diamonds are being stolen and the thief is as interested in Lady Emily as she is in him.

I thought a really interesting part of this book dealt with whether you’re in or out. In the great big high school cafeteria that was the London Season, Emily makes a tiny social transgression, and when word of that gets out she risks being ruined. I don’t even know if there’s a current equivalent — I mean, you can show up on Cops with your purse over your face and still hold your head high at the grocery store. But for Emily and her friends — her female friends, I should say — being ruined, or shunned from polite society — was like social Siberia. No good marriage, no security — you’re on your way to living under a bridge, and the law of the day did definitely not exist to help you. You can look down your nose at the timid behavior and pack mentality of the ladies of the London social scene, but put yourself in their tiny, uncomfortable shoes — what choice did they have? Choice, it seems, is a modern invention.

Tasha Alexander not only knows the Victorians and has a terrific heroine in Lady Emily, she’s also writing the companion novel to the movie The Golden Age, the sequel to Elizabeth. This film follows the middle aged Queen Elizabeth and also stars my imaginary movie star boyfriend Clive Owen.

By the way, you can see some of the jewels described in this book — including Marie Antoinette’s gigantic diamond earrings — at the Smithsonian’s gem and jewel exhibit here in Washington DC.

The book is A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander.

One common problem in writing historical fiction is that if you’re setting your book in a period where women had few choices between the Church and marriage, it’s tough to make your heroine behave in a way that wouldn’t get her marched off to the loony bin. The Victorians, for instance, frowned on this whole idea of an educated wealthy single woman who — worst of all — was a bit of a sleuth. Scandalous! A Poisoned Season‘s Lady Emily is all these things and the author makes it make sense. She is a woman of her times, even if the times are difficult for an independent woman. The plot follows Lady Emily on the trail of a jewel thief — or is he on her trail? Tasha Alexander is my guest this weekend on Fiction Nation, she’ll talk about the jewels of Marie Antoinette and how a lady had best not be ruined. Fiction Nation, 6pm east Saturday, 10am east Sunday, on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander; the second in the series about Victorian sleuth Lady Emily Ashton.

Lady Emily is a rare independently wealthy and well educated lady at the close of the 18th century, and even though times were changing, she still finds herself the victim of gossip at the height of the London season, and that’s the sort of thing that could ruin a girl. She has more important things to worry about, like the thief targeting the jewels that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. It’s all just too dreadful! A Poisoned Season is full of interesting characters, and I loved the fact that Queen Victoria herself has to come to the rescue at one point. Tasha Alexander is my guest this weekend, and she’ll talk about life among the Victorians and how to survive The Season. That’s this Saturday at 6pm east and Sunday at 10am east on Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is a Fiction Nation minute. The book is A Poisoned Season by historian Tasha Alexander, the second featuring Victorian detective Lady Emily Ashton.

It’s the London Season and a thief is afoot, targeting the jewels of Marie Antoinette. Worse, the thief is very interested in Lady Emily, and even worse, her rather dramatic mother is like, Emily, you’ve gotta pick a husband already, the meter is running. Emily becomes the victim of a nasty gossip campaign, which will stand in the way of sleuthing. A Poisoned Season makes wonderful use of the setting — from the glittering ballrooms and rainy streets of London to the wild Greek coastline. The cast of characters, including cameos from some real historical figures, notably the imposing Queen Victoria herself, was engaging, and I look forward to the further adventures of Lady Emily. A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander. I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation on Book Radio, SiriusXM Channel 80.

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