Sunday, 10 July 2016
THE BEST MOMENT AS A WRITER....
The best fun as a writer is when you connect with readers. Some know the first book and want to chat about The Ballroom Café. Others want to ask questions about my latest novel, The Judge's Wife. And for some people, it is just the joy of linking up with the writer of a book they love or the face behind the author name on a book cover.
For me, connecting with readers are the sweetest moments. Such as this weekend. There I was signing The Judge's Wife at Easons, St Stephen's Green,Dublin when these lovely people from the Canary Islands came along.
Mums, Carmen and Milagros were in Dublin to visit their children Laura and Gabriel who are here for a few weeks studying English.
Their enthusiasm and joy when I was the author of the book the were about to buy was infectious and for few moments it appeared as if everybody in the shop was caught up in their enthusiasm. Store assistant manager Kelly took this lovely photograph.
I will be visiting Eason stores across Dublin on Tuesday, so if you see me, be sure to say hello.
Thursday, 7 July 2016
Monday, 4 July 2016
THE JUDGE'S WIFE BLOG TOUR ROCKS ON!The Judge's Wife is a powerful and moving story, very well written with characters that are fascinating and a central theme that is quite tragic.
You can read the review below or one this link.http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.ie/2016/07/the-judges-wife-by-ann-oloughlin.html
The Judge's Wife by Ann O'Loughlin #BlogTour
With her whole life ahead of her, beautiful young Grace's world changes forever when she's married off to a much older judge. Soon, feeling lonely and neglected, Grace meets and falls in love with an Indian doctor, Vikram. He's charming, thoughtful and kind, everything her husband is not. But this is the 1950s and when she becomes pregnant, the potential scandal must be harshly dealt with to avoid ruin.
A story spanning three decades, this is the moving tale of three women and how one great love changed their lives forever.
The Judge's Wife by Ann O'Loughlin was published in paperback on 1 July 2016 by Black & White Publishing and is the author's second novel. Her debut, The Ballroom Cafe was published in 2015.
The Judge's Wife is a story that really does pack a punch, it offers an insight into the terrible injustices carried out against innocent women in Ireland between the 1930s and 1950s. Although this is a fictional story, it is horrifying because we know that it could be true. These things really did happen, and not that long ago.
For me, The Judge's Wife is a story of two halves. The author has chosen to tell this story using three female lead characters; Grace, the judge's wife of the title; Emma the grown-up daughter of the judge and Rosa, the daughter of Vikram - the Indian doctor who stole Grace's heart all those years ago. Grace's story begins in 1954 as she is taken to Our Lady's Asylum in County Wicklow. Emma and Rosa's stories are told thirty years later in 1984.
I found, during the first 100 pages or so of the story, that it was quite difficult to keep up with the change from the 50s to the 80s and from Ireland to India. I would have preferred longer chapters, so that I could engage a little more with each character. However, the strength of the story and of the emotional impact soon overrides any small criticism I had of the structure and I found myself caught up in the total injustice suffered by Grace and wondering just how any of these characters would ever find peace.
Grace is a wonderfully drawn character. An innocent, thrust into a world that is like nothing she has ever known, with no choices. Despite the wealth of her surroundings and the intellect of those who she associates with, Grace has a strength of character that will remain with her through some incredibly tragic and difficult times. She's like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy dusty room, and the author's descriptions of her fabulous 1950's wardrobe designed by the real-life Irish designer Sybil Connelly is delightful.
Life at Our Lady's Asylum was horrific for Grace and her fellow patients. Care is not a word that can be attributed to the people who held the keys, or the people who managed the Asylum. Ann O'Loughlin has captured the fears and the dreams of the women incarcerated within the walls of the building so well, these characters burst to life, and the reader will love them, and root for them.
The Judge's Wife is a powerful and moving story, very well written with characters that are fascinating and a central theme that is quite tragic.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
Psychiatric care in Ireland - the issue at the heart of The Judge's Wife
Grace Moran, the central character in The Judge's Wife was one of the unclaimed left to languish in an Irish asylum; left there even though she did not have mental difficulties - her only sin to fall in love .....
Author Ann O'Loughlin says it is now time to shine a light on past psychiatric care in Ireland.
'The Irish Government should at the very least commission a full independent report on the mental hospital system. There has in Ireland been an acknowledgement in relation to abuse in industrial schools and the horror of the Magdalene Laundries but for those who were incarcerated and left unclaimed in mental hospitals, there has been nothing.' she said.
By 1966, Ireland was incarcerating a higher proportion of its people in mental hospitals than anywhere else in the world. It follows that very many of these people (21,000 at the height of the system) were not mentally ill but were locked up for what Ann believes were social, political and familial reasons.
It is believed that 11,000 people died every decade in Irish mental hospitals - that's 33,000 people between the 1930s and the 1950s. Many of them died because of neglect and insanitary conditions.
A leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years, Ann O'Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with Independent Newspapers, where she was security correspondent at the height of the Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald.
She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper; covering legal issues. Ann has also lived and worked in India.
Originally from the west of Ireland, she now lives on the east coast of Ireland with her husband and two children.
Find out more about Ann and her writing at annoloughlin.blogspot.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter @annolwriter
Sunday, 3 July 2016
The Judge's Wife Launch
We quaffed wine and ate mini cupcakes; I read from the book and answered questions. But mainly we had great conversation. It was really a night to remember and thanks to everybody who came along, old friends and new. Thanks to Black&White Publishing; literary agent Jenny Brown and Dubray Books. It was a wonderful send off for The Judge's Wife in to the world.
Thursday, 30 June 2016
LAUNCH DAY ..........A STOP IN IRELAND ON DAY 4 OF THE JUDGE'S WIFE BLOG TOUR
AND A GIVEAWAY!
to take part or read below.
Blog Tour and Giveaway - "The Judge's Wife" by Ann O'Loughlin.
I am delighted to bring you an exclusive piece, from Ann O' Loughlin, on my stop of the Blog Tour for her latest novel The Judge's Wife. I also have a a copy of the book, as well as a copy of her debut novel, The Ballroom Cafe, to giveaway to one lucky reader. To be in with a chance of winning this great prize, just enter via rafflecopter link below. Good Luck!
The Judge's Wife by Ann O'Loughlin
Can a love last forever?
When Emma returns to Dublin to put her estranged father’s affairs in order, she begins to piece together the story of his life and that of Grace, the mother she never knew. She knows her father as the judge – as stern and distant at home as he was in the courtroom. But as she goes through his personal effects, Emma begins to find clues about her mother that shock her profoundly.
A tale of enduring love and scandal that begins in 1950s Dublin and unravels across decades and continents, digging up long-buried family secrets along the way, The Judge’s Wife asks whether love really can last forever.
Exclusive author feature
Grace Moran in The Judge’s Wife loved to wear Sybil Connolly day dresses, suits and elegant ballgowns.
Dublin designer Sybil Connolly designed the most beautiful clothes. She reworked traditional Irish fabrics and styles – including peasant blouses, flannel petticoats and shawls – to give them contemporary appeal and glamour. Perhaps her most distinctive contribution to fashion was pleated handkerchief linen – as worn by Jackie Kennedy in the official White House portrait – it took up to nine yards of Irish linen handkerchiefs to create one yard of the uncrushable pleated fabric that pioneered.
This is an extract where Grace’s daughter, Emma in her father’s house in Parnell Square, Dublin comes across boxes and boxes of clothes belonging to the mother she never knew. In one special shop box is a beautiful Sybil Connolly dress wrapped in tissue paper.
“My God are you moving in or out?” Angie peered around a stack of boxes in the hall. “What’s going on?”
Boxes and boxes were piled high, with the name Grace scrawled in thick black marker. Stumbling, confusion clouding her face, Emma hit against a high stack of boxes, making it shake.
“Where did these come from?”
The foreman stepped from behind a tower in the front room. “I told you.”
“Don’t touch them.”
“Don’t touch them.” Tremors hurled up her body, buckling her knees and gripping her stomach. When Angie ran to her, she let her pull her gently into the library.
“You need to sit down, dear. Something has spooked you for sure.”
“These are my mother’s things. I never knew any of it was in the house.”
Somebody called out that everything was down from the attic and Emma jumped to her feet.
“Now, now, these boxes are going nowhere. You catch your breath,” Angie said gently, pressing Emma back onto the chaise longue.
A man carrying a wide box stepped into the library and placed the box beside her. “A pretty fancy box. I would open it first, if I were you. We are moving to clear out the old kitchen in the basement. Will you want to inspect anything there?” Emma shook her head.
The box took up the width of her arms. Once white, it was now covered in a layer of fine dust, the string faded a green-grey. Behind the dust, the name Sybil Connolly, Dublin was set in plain black print.
“I had better scoot along.” Angie Hannon stood and watched Emma for a few seconds. “Will you be all right?”
Emma nodded, walking to the hall with Angie. “It is just a shock, I hardly know where to start.”
“The box in your hands is as good a place as any.”
Angie looked at her watch. “I had better get going or I’ll miss the first collection.” She whipped out the door, stopping only briefly to berate the workmen. “Will you quieten down a bit? They can hear you cursing in the city centre.”
Glancing into the front sitting room, Emma looked around. Stacks of boxes like a child’s playing bricks everywhere, four abreast on the upholstered couch, spanning the width of the window.
Placing the outsize rectangular box on the floor, she eased the top off gently, her hair tumbling down, blocking out her face, her hands trembling. A cloud of dust blustered up around her as she pushed back the cover and pulled on layers and layers of white tissue paper, which piled up and crumpled around her.
A dress, ivory, ruffled with lace and inlaid with satin ribbons, was folded neatly. Emma lifted out the dress, standing up so it unfurled to the ground in a hurried whishing whisper. Layers of pleated frills were topped with lace and interwoven with pale-blue ribbon. The skirt spread out in tiny pinched pleats, a series of Chinese fans fluttering their messages. It was heavy to hold, the taffeta underskirt setting the pleated ruffles in place. Emma held it to her, swaying from side to side. The whoosh of the linen as it swept across the carpet made her swing faster and faster, the room twirling until she felt dizzy. Falling between two boxes on the couch, the linen spread around her as if it owned her.
She felt at home here, probably for the first time. All the times she had dreamed of her mother, wanting to feel her comforting presence, her soft touch, all the times she imagined it. Passing her hand over the linen, she disturbed the fabric and a faint hint of perfume waved around her. Pulling the nearest box on the couch, she nudged the cardboard flaps open. A bundle of silk scarves lounged like sleeping snakes.
Placing her hand into the well of colours, she heard the klssss of the silk as it moved, disturbed after years locked away. Not checking what she was picking, she pulled, latching on to one long scarf. It slithered out in a haze of royal blue, green, purple, the colours bouncing in the light, throwing bars of colour at the mirror over the mantelpiece. Crumpling it to tame it around her neck, she pushed the linen dress aside and jumped up to look in the mirror. Settling her hair on top of her head, the scarf complemented her long, graceful neck. Then, abruptly, she let her hair fall down.
There was no going back to Australia, but what life could she make here among the forgotten treasures of a long-dead woman? Opening two more boxes, she tumbled out the contents, sifting through the clothes and losing track of time, only stopping when she heard the chat from the people standing at the bus stop outside the window. Peeping out the window, she saw a man finish his bottle of Coke before leaning over the railing and letting the empty bottle smash to the basement.
Cross, Emma ran to the door, but the man was already boarding a double-decker.
“You will have to put up some sort of netting. They don’t care about anyone.” Angie Hannon, on her way home from Mass, was carrying a small white box. “I stopped off at the Kylemore and got you some cream slices: they go lovely with a cup of tea.” She hopped up the steps and placed the small box in Emma’s hands. “Don’t worry, I won’t be imposing myself. I am off out with the women’s club today.”
Emma smiled and made to go back inside. Angie called out softly, “Your skirt: it is a Sybil Connolly isn’t it?”
Emma spun around. “How did you know?”
“Anyone with an eye for fashion could not miss a Sybil Connolly. Sure, didn’t she bring linen from the bog to the city?”
“I found it in the house.”
“Look after it. A vintage treasure, it is.”
“I didn’t realise.”
“I always heard your mother was a right looker and stunning in Sybil Connolly.”
“I wouldn’t know.”
Emma’s throat tightened and pain flared through her that so many knew her mother and she did not even have a faint memory: a favourite name or nursery rhyme, a touch, a look. Anger swelled inside her at her father and she wanted him to be alive so she could cross-examine him, demand answers.
Angie Hannon called out to Tom Harty’s wife and Emma, taking advantage of her distraction, slipped back inside her front door.
What good was it opening these boxes and rummaging through the life of the mother she had never known? She should lock up this place, run away, but where would she go? There was no home back in Australia, just a lot of other possessions she did not care about and a husband busy playing house with another. She kicked a box, so light it skidded across the tiles in the hall. It hit a stack piled too high and the top box toppled over, the contents spilling across the floor.
Not bothering to pick up the items, Emma climbed the stairs, stopping on the fourth step to look back down the hall. The black and white tiles glinted in the light spilling in from over the door. It was the judge’s house. It still had his smell, and she expected him to call out from his library, to hear him clear his throat as he read his files.
The Judge's Wife is published by Black and White Publishing and is available in PB and ebook format.
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
LAUNCH DAY FOR THE JUDGE'S WIFE
The Judge's Wife goes out to meet the world today and it is time for me to say thank you to everybody for their wonderful support.
Agent Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates will be with me today at Dubray Books to launch the book. Without Jenny I don't think The Ballroom Café or The Judge's Wife would have made it out there. She has an unwavering belief in my writing and an ability to push me to make it better every time. Thanks Jenny!
Thank you too to all the bloggers who have backed both The Ballroom Café and now The Judge's Wife getting the message out there about the book.
I also have to give a special mention to all those who have supported me on social media and especially Helena Gilhooly of Busybeaders who make the lovely angel bookmark in the exact colours of The Judge's Wife.
I first met Helena when she gave me a lucky angel bookmark for The Ballroom Café last year and it sure brought me luck. She has now made one specially for The Judge' Wife. Nothing like a sprinkle of magic to help The Judge's Wife on its way.
Next up is Evelyn Ring Irish Examiner reporter who has retweeted constantly in support of a colleague.
Special mention also to Kelly Spillane who managed to spot the first copy of The Judge's Wife last weekend and to Naomi of Treats to You who made the delicious mini cupcakes for the launch party.
Thank you all for you support.
It is very much appreciated. Join me at Dubray Books, Grafton Street, Dublin to launch The Judge's Wife tonight June 30 at 6pm. Ann x.