Friday, 15 July 2016

Thanks RTÉ Guide for the full page on The Judge's Wife and for making a little girl's dream come true.






Since the beginning, the RTE Guide was very big in our house. I remember as a child when it was a journal with a young Gay Byrne on the front. My mother always bought the Guide in the local town on a Saturday morning. I couldn't wait to look up my favourite programmes - Star Trek and Mannix if I remember correctly - ringing them with a pencil in the listings.My dream as a young girl living in the West of Ireland was one day to be in the RTE Guide.
As we grew up, so too did the RTE Guide. Even when it turned in to the glossy magazine it is now and we entered the land of 24 hour TV and multi channels, our loyalty to the Guide remained. If it was in the Guide , it was gospel. My mother right up until her last days loved the RTE Guide, the crossword keeping her going well in to her 80s.
So then, I am absolutely delighted the RTE Guide is this week running a feature on The Judge's Wife along with a special interview. There is even a competition run by
Black & White Publishing
So thanks RTÉ Guide for making my week and making a little girl's dream come true after all these years.
Thanks too to photographer
Conor Ó Mearáin for the lovely photograph printed here with the interview.

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.
Ann x
 
 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

 Here I am on video, chatting about The Judge's Wife I do hope you enjoy it and it gives you a nice flavour of the story.



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

Can love last forever?

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





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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!

Head over to http://www.bleachhouselibrary.ie/2016/06/blog-tour-and-giveaway-judges-wife-by.html

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

The Blurb

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

SYBIL CONNOLLY

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.

EXTRACT:

“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.”
“You said—”
“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.

COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH.....ONE DAY TO GO



I was interviewed on Jera'sJamboree as part of The Judge's Wife blog tour . You can click on the link here or read below.  /
http://www.jerasjamboree.co.uk/2016/06/a-moving-story-three-woman-one-man.html                           


                                                   Welcome to Jera's Jamboree.


Please summarise The Judge’s Wife in 20 words or less.

A saga sweeping across continents, this is a story of one great love and those who wanted to destroy it.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

Many years ago, I visited the Taj Mahal in North India. It was a very hot day and I sat down to the side of the great monument in the shade of a tree. Some workmen were up on bamboo scaffolding tapping away with their hammers, replacing damaged pieces of marble. Suddenly one of the men broke off and came down. I thought he was going to say I was disrupting the work, but instead he opened up his fist and there on the palm of his hand were three small pieces of white marble.

He picked out a piece and handed to me.
 "Take it. May it bring you luck," he said. He was gone back up the bamboo scaffolding, before I had a chance to say anything other than a quick thank you.

The kindness of that man; the simple generosity behind the gesture all those years ago started me thinking of the love story that became The Judge’s Wife.


Please tell us about the characters in The Judge's Wife.

Grace Moran was a beautiful young woman married off to an older judge in 1950s Dublin. She falls in love with Vikram Fernandes, an Indian doctor. Theirs is a beautiful young love. She loves to wear designer Sybil Connolly clothes; he wants to bring her back to India and especially the coffee estate in the hills, but she ends up in an asylum and Vikram returns to India heartbroken. It is Grace's daughter when the judge dies, who is left to piece together the mystery of the life of the mother she never knew and the great love that once was between Vikram and Grace.


What scene did you enjoy writing the most Ann?

I enjoyed the scene when Vikram wrote the letter to Grace telling her they would find a way to be together.When I say I enjoyed it, I actually cried writing that letter. It was as if Vikram was dictating it to me. I cried because it was beautiful to think that he loved Grace so much and his wish was a simple but beautiful one; sit in the shadow of the Taj Mahal, to hold her hand “and just be.”


Did you do any research? What resources did you use? 

There was a lot of research on asylums in the 50s and that involved reading accounts of those who had been incarcerated for any other reason beside psychiatric issues. But the research which was the most fun was on the designer Sybil Connolly. It was fascinating to learn about the pleated linen which was her trademark. I had lived in India, so the Indian chapters came easy enough to me.


Did you travel to any places? Undergo any new experiences? 

I lived in India for a year and while there, spent time in a coffee state in Chickmagalur. It was the most beautiful peaceful place, especially when the mists came in over the hills; it was really a world apart. It was this special place that I drew on for many of Vikram’s reminisces. Also I lived in the city of Bangalore, where Vikram spent most of his days, so I was able to write from experience of that great city.

                  Do you have a theme for your book covers? Who designs them? 
The cover for The Judge's Wife was designed by photographer and designer Henry Steadman. I just love this cover and I think it is a wonderful successor to the bestselling The Ballroom Café. The Ballroom cover was universally loved.


 
I know you have a book trailer Ann.  What do you think book trailers achieve? 

I regard the book trailer as an invitation to the reader to sit down for a while and listen to a bit of chat about the book. In my trailer I read that letter Vikram wrote to Grace because it is one of my favourite parts of whole book. The trailer gives a taste of what is to come in the book and I find my readers like to see me in my sitting room chatting about the book.


Finally Ann, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
The best part of my writing journey has got to be the fantastic feedback from readers. Writing is a lonely business. I sit in my kitchen early in the morning with the dog at my feet. It is so wonderful then to get the reaction of readers and the appreciation of the story told and the work put in. The reaction of the readers and the reviews are the greatest gift to the author.

Thank you for sharing with us today.




Monday, 27 June 2016

COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH .......TWO DAYS AGO

"It was devastating, it was perfect and it was beautiful. I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and their lives long after I’d read the last page.   A magnificent read!"

So happy with this first review of The Judge's Wife  on the second step of The Judge's Wife Blog Tour.

 Blog tour and review: The Judge’s Wife by Ann O’Loughlin

Posted · 
9781785300516I was truly honoured when I was asked to read and review and take part in the blog tour for The Judge’s Wife by Ann O’Loughlin.  I loved her previous book and was really looking forward to this one too.  And I love all the books that I’ve been sent by Black and White Publishing.
About the book:
Can a love last forever?
With her whole life ahead of her, beautiful young Grace’s world changes forever when she’s married off to a much older man, the 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 the scandal threatens to come to light, the situation must be harshly dealt with to avoid ruin, leading to years of heartbreak, misunderstandings and secrets. The Judge’s Wife spans three decades, and is a moving story of three women and how one great love changed their lives forever…
What did I think?
I absolutely, completely and utterly adored this book from the first page, all the way through every single page, through to the very last.   It was a book that when I was away from, even if it was just to make a cuppa, I was desperate to get back to. I just couldn’t bear to be away from them.
The characters of Vikram and Grace were both such beautiful, innocent characters that I could have read about so much more. They are characters that I’d love to read more about.
Ann has a lovely writing style, which I discovered in her previous book The Ballroom Café that immediately lifts you up, whisks you away and plonks you down into another life. A life that you feel you are truly living in. I absolutely loved the descriptions of Grace’s clothes and felt like I was unpacking them myself.
I felt devastated by the circumstances that were written about and wanted to help. I was totally and fully compelled to turn the pages.   And oh my, what a twist at the end! I certainly didn’t see that coming!
The Judge’s Wife is a stunning book that broke my heart, on more than one occasion. It was devastating, it was perfect and it was beautiful. I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and their lives long after I’d read the last page.   A magnificent read!

 

The Judge's Wife available on Amazon kindle now

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judges-Wife-captivating-emotional-unspeakable-ebook/dp/B01CV0Y5SE?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc


COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH...........THREE DAYS TO GO


 

No writer is a solo artist. There is a whole team behind each book that makes it to publication. Sometimes the teams are big and sometimes they are small, but the most important thing is that they love the book and the story told.

On the journey to launching a book, you meet a lot of different people who have a crucial role before the paperback can be put on the shelf. But it is not just about getting the book in to the bookshops, it is a whole series of things that must come together to represent properly the story that has been told.  

The team at Black and White Publishing have worked around the clock to get The Judge’s Wife ready for publication, considering they only first read the script last January.

First came the editing by Karyn Millar and Chris Kydd. They are eagle eyed word wranglers and their suggestions were spot on. Then came the cover design by photographer and designer Henry Steadman with Alison McBride and Campbell Brown of Black and White working overtime to get it just right, so that the cover would accurately portray the story of Vikram and Grace.

Once the editing process and cover were finished, the publicity team of Laura Nicoll and Daiden O’Regan took over, arranging a host of events and interviews to coincide with publication and a blog tour to boot. They also took charge of the beautifully presented packages sent out to bloggers and press across the UK and Ireland.

And in the middle of all these busy times, Rights Manager Janne Moller announced the Norwegian rights to The Judge’s Wife had been sold. Now, Digital manager Thomas Ross starts overseeing the online content as the books shipped out to shops are stacked on to the shelves.

Maybe I have had the easiest job of all ……….writing the book!

 

 










Sunday, 26 June 2016

COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH ...........FOUR DAYS TO GO

Grace Moran loved to wear Sybil Connolly designer dresses.

Dublin designer Sybil Connoly designed the most beautiful clothes. She was  adept at reworking 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.

Here is an extract from The Judge's Wife when Emma finds a Sybil Connolly dress  among all the boxes taken down from the attic of her late father's house in Parnell Square, Dublin. The designer dress  hinting at the glamour of the woman she never knew.
 
 
 
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.

 

 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH   .......     FIVE DAYS TO GO


 
I was chatting to Gavin on ClareFM this week about The Judge's Wife. Have a listen. (tap on the red section below)It starts about fifty seconds in.
Also very nice to be a KEY READ FOR JULY IN IMAGE MAGAZINE.

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Friday, 24 June 2016

COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH.........SIX DAYS TO GO.



Six days to go and these beautiful books have arrived from Black and White Publishing.

The Judge’s Wife, a novel by Ann O’Loughlin; I turn the book over in my hands for the first time. There is no sweeter moment.

Every morning I get up early and write when the house is still and even the dog stays asleep. Some mornings the characters in my head are talking so fast, it is hard to keep up with them. Other mornings, we trudge through the sentences; the characters in my head fighting to change the plot.

That is how a book is written word after word, paragraph after paragraph, page after page and chapter after chapter. There are the best days when they fingers soar across the keyboard and the days when every sentence is a hard won battle.

There are days when you think you will never write ‘The End’; maybe you don’t even know it yet. And there are the rewriting days, when it feels you are in a different novel altogether. And then there are days like this, when you open a box and you hold the copy of the novel for the first time.

The Judge’s Wife by Ann O’Loughlin. I pick it up and flick through the pages. They are all there; Vikram and Grace and their beautiful love for each other. They fought hard in my head and won their place on the page.

The Judge’s Wife   goes out on to book stands across the country in the next few days. My only hope is that you, the reader enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing the story of Grace Moran and Vikram Fernandes.

When you reach the end I hope you may be able to answer that question posed on the cover,‘Can a Love Last Forever?’


 

 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH ........... SEVEN DAYS TO GO
 
The inspiration of the coffee estates of South India.
 
My time in the coffee estates in the hills of South India were a beautiful inspiration as I wrote The Judge’s Wife. Here peace comes dropping slow. I hope you enjoy this extract from the novel where Vikram Fernandes, on the balcony of his apartment in busy Bangalore city longs to be back among the Robusta coffee plants and his plantation. My time in the coffee estate in Chickmagalur will be forever in my heart. Ann 
 
The rising clamour of the city encircled Vikram, sapping his energy. How he longed to be back in Chikmagalur, where the air was heavy with stillness and workers concentrating stooped low; where the mountains high and strong, held up blue umbrellas of mist to the sky. The orange flash of a rat snake flitting across a path, the sound of chopping and pans on the fire in the kitchen as the cook prepared the food for the day, the low, far-off hum of conversation from the line of stone dwellings where the workers lived.
The family estate house was old and battered-looking, with stone walls and floors over which rugs were strewn to take away the sharpness of the cold in winter. Built to service the hectares of the coffee estate, it had changed little over the decades. The only obvious luxury was the early-morning coffee ceremony, after Vikram had gathered his workers and sent them off for the day, his instructions ringing in their ears. Thick black coffee and steaming-hot milk were poured into small china cups from tall silver coffee pots. Vikram’s father had insisted on this ritual and his son saw no reason to change it. The china cups, first brought to the house by his mother, had seen better days and were chipped in places, but Vikram never had the heart to throw them out. Instead, he ordered his servants to handle with care, and they did, because nobody wanted to upset the boss.
How he wanted to be in his big old chair on the covered porch at Chikmagalur, where he could look out over the drying grounds and terraces, past the tall trees giving pools of shade, to watch the hills and clouds fight for the sky. This was where peace dropped slow. Whether the sun baked the ground or the monsoon rain spattered or tore down on top of them, Chikmagalur was his place apart.
His favourite spot in the bungalow was the sitting room, where he could sit quietly, the green hills on guard. The furniture was dowdy, the circular brass table in the middle gone green in places from old coffee stains, where he had spilled his cup too many times as he reached across for his newspaper. In one corner was a stack of weeks-old newspapers about a foot high, on the walls were photographs, worn, creased in places and sepia-brown.
He wanted to be there when the white flowers in the Robusta coffee plants unfurled, putting on a show, breaking into the mist, which clung in gossamer swirls to the trees. There was nothing as lovely as when the first blossom revealed itself: a reminder of the frail beauty of life, before the monsoon rains battered the hills, flooded the roads and cut off the mountains from each other.
“Uncle, your coffee.”
Rosa stood in the doorway holding a tray with a steel beaker, steam curling away from it.
“You were deep in thought?”
“I was thinking of the flowers in bloom at Chikmagalur. I long to breathe them in, fill my nostrils with their heavy scent. You never liked it there, my Rosa.”
“Uncle, there was nothing to do.”
Vikram settled himself deeper in his chair. “Boredom, the affliction of the young, loneliness, the affliction of the old.” Blowing on his coffee, he paused for a few seconds before noisily slurping it.
 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


COUNTDOWN   TO LAUNCH    .................... DAY 8. 

 

 

THE STORY BEHIND THE COVER ………THE JUDGE’S WIFE.

     Don't judge a book by its cover. That is the old saying, but doesn't everybody initially judge a book by its cover? In three seconds flat the cover will make that decision whether a reader wants to take it in to their hands and turn it over and flick through the pages.

The cover for The Judge’s Wife had to get across that this was a story spanning decades about a beautiful young woman who lived in Dublin, Ireland in the 50s and a terrible injustice done to her which reverberated through the decades.

The cover of my first novel The Ballroom Cafe was universally loved so it was a big challenge for Black and White Publishing to come up with a match.

But I am lucky to have in Black and White Publishing a publisher who will stop at nothing to get it right. I was also lucky enough that London designer Henry Steadman  could take on the job of designing The Judge’s Wife cover.

Without realising it, you are probably very familiar with Henry Steadman book covers. Think Dan Brown and De Vinci Code, think Lee Child and  a host of other top authors.

A photographer and designer, he was the man for the job.

And what a cover he produced. It had the style of the 1950s and the promise of more. Grace who loved designer Sybil Connolly would certainly have approved and the colours and mountains behind hinted at places far away.
The minute I saw it I knew it was just right and encapsulates everything the novel is about.

  That mint green dress; that face, the background; it  all  evokes an era the era when Grace and Vikram fell in love 1950s Dublin. What happened afterwards would affect the lives of many.

I am very proud of The Judge’s Wife and of the cover. I am also honoured to be in the company of  very fine authors who have had a cover designed by Henry Steadman.

And I am thrilled to say Henry Steadman has included   the cover of The Judge's Wife in his website portfolio. Have a look and you will see why I am so excited  to be included among such great names in storytelling and writing. Find Henry Steadman at http://www.henrysteadman.com/