Blog Tour: Gill Paul's Favourite Historical Eras

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be welcoming the wonderful Gill Paul to the blog. Gill's recently released The Secret Wife, bringing to life the Romanov family and hinting towards mystery and secrets, has been receiving much praise, and so it's only fitting to have the author here to chat about her favourite historical eras as part of the exciting blog tour.

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Blurb
A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world's greatest mysteries...

Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.
1914
Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance - and their lives - in danger...

2016
Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather's remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret...

Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

Favourite Historical Eras
By Gill Paul
We history lovers all have our favourite periods, countries and characters and it fascinates me to ask people which they like and why. Those of us who went to British primary schools had a grounding in the Tudors and Stuarts, learning “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived” like a mantra. Some preferred Henry’s spunky daughter Elizabeth I, who gave her name to a remarkable era, but I was always a Charles II girl. To me he seemed sexy, with all those quarrelling mistresses, yet at the same time kind and wise, and there were great leaps forward in science under his patronage. I had a massive crush on him in the days when my mates were into Jason Donovan, the Bay City Rollers and even (weirdly) Boris Becker.

Around the age of fifteen, I met a friend of my aunt’s who had been in Auschwitz and she showed me the numbers on her wrist. That sparked off a long period when I read anything I could find on the Holocaust and wept over heartbreaking individual stories. In my late teens, I became obsessed with Communism, seeing it as the idealistic opposite to Fascism. I argued with anyone who would listen that it had to be the fairest political system (yes, I’m afraid that’s the kind of bratty teenager I was). My parents were great at dealing with me. When I claimed that inheritance was unfair, they shut me up with “OK, we’ll leave everything to your brother and sister.”

In my first job, with art book publishers Thames & Hudson, I was assigned to edit a number of books about Russian art, architecture and theatre from the early 20th century, a time of great flowering in
the arts there – think Chagall, Diaghilev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mayakovsky, Gorky, Tchaikovsky, Nijinsky and Pavlova. I was hooked and knew I had to visit Russia some day because St Petersburg just sounded impossibly glamorous. (When I finally got there earlier this year, it was every bit as gorgeous as I’d imagined.)

Other phases came and went. I’ve always loved reading about New York and Paris in the 1920s, the time of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker as well as Sylvia Beach and Gertrude Stein. Doesn’t Prohibition sound fun, with all those speakeasies that had secret doors to keep the police out? I’m sure I’ll write a novel with this background some day. Ditto East Germany under the Stasi (that Communism thing again). For now I’m finding it hard to let go of the Romanovs, and am working on another project about them.

Anyone else want tell me about their favourite historic periods and why they like them? I’ll personally send a signed copy of The Secret Wife to the person with the most eccentric choice or reason. Contact me here or via my website www.gillpaul.com by the end of September.

About the author
Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in recent history. Her new novel, The Secret Wife, is about the romance between cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar, who first met in 1914. It’s also about a young woman in 2016 deciding whether to forgive her husband after an infidelity.

Gill’s other novels include Women and Children First, about a young steward who works on the Titanic; The Affair, set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fall in love while making Cleopatra; and No Place for a Lady, about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854–56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects (to be published 1st October 2016) and a series of Love Stories, each containing fourteen tales of real-life couples: how they met, why they fell for each other, and what happened in the end. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories.

Gill was born in Glasgow and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. She started her own company producing books for publishers, along the way editing such luminaries as Griff Rhys Jones, John Suchet, John Julius Norwich, Ray Mears and Eartha Kitt. She also writes on health, nutrition and relationships.

Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – "It's good for you so long as it doesn't kill you"– and is a devotee of Pilates. She also particularly enjoys travelling on what she calls "research trips" and attempting to match-make for friends.

You can find Gill Paul on Twitter | gillpaul.com

3 comments :

  1. This book sounds right up my street - I went through a period of being fascinated by the Russian revolution too.
    But the historical period I'd want to go back to would be the 1930s, the inter-war years, as long as I can be rich and living in a country house, and as long as it can be always summer with lots of Pimms on the lawn and games of tennis and croquet, and as long as September 1939 never actually comes around.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd love to have lived in British Ceylon, which definitely was the golden age of Srilanka, where ethnicity, race, religion, caste and creed did not matter.

    An era during which trade thrived and foreigners were welcome, Srilanka doesn't have a bloody history during colonisation, but only during the recent civil war.

    Several historic records prove that everyone lived in harmony, and the infamous Singhalese-Tamil divide didn't even exist.

    I've heard many interesting stories from my elderly relatives and also seen many a snapshot of history focusing on the harmonious life during British Ceylon, a forgotten era that was largely peaceful and harmonious.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd love to have lived in British Ceylon, which definitely was the golden age of Srilanka, where ethnicity, race, religion, caste and creed did not matter.

    An era during which trade thrived and foreigners were welcome, Srilanka doesn't have a bloody history during colonisation, but only during the recent civil war.

    Several historic records prove that everyone lived in harmony, and the infamous Singhalese-Tamil divide didn't even exist.

    I've heard many interesting stories from my elderly relatives and also seen many a snapshot of history focusing on the harmonious life during British Ceylon, a forgotten era that was largely peaceful and harmonious.

    ReplyDelete