Today we're excited to welcome bestselling author Hazel Gaynor to our corner of the web! She's sharing her top 5 favorite historical romance novels of all time!
This guest post is a feature of our stop on the blog tour for her book A MEMORY OF VIOLETS, hosted by Tasty Book Tours + giveaway below!
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Hazel Gaynor comes a beautiful historical novel about Tilly Harper, a young woman who finds the diary of an orphaned flower seller who was separated from her sister in Victorian England, and her journey to learn the fate of the long lost sisters. Gaynor’s research into the events that inspire her novels is outstanding, and the world of the Victorian flower sellers on the streets of London in the late 1800s is utterly fascinating.
In 1912, twenty-one-year-old Tilly Harper leaves her sheltered home in the Lake District for a position as assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls in London. Orphaned and crippled girls wander the twisted streets with posies of violets and cress to sell to the passing ladies and gentleman, and the Flower Homes provide a place for them to improve their lives of hardship.
When Tilly arrives at Mr. Shaw’s safe haven, she discovers a diary that tells the story of Florrie, a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after being separated from her sister Rosie. Tilly makes it her mission to find out what happened to young Rosie, and in the process learns about the workings of her own heart.
★ Top Five Historical Romance Novels ★
Wow – this is tough! It’s a little like being asked to choose your favourite child, but I’ll do my best. My choices are a mixture of all time classics and novels from contemporary writers of historical fiction. I hope you enjoy my selection.
Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen
Who doesn’t love the captivating and intriguing romance between Lizzie Bennett and Mr Darcy? This novel is loved by so many and is romance writing – in fact, writing of any genre - at its very best. A novel packed full of memorable characters, wonderful humour (and cutting sarcasm that Lady Violet Grantham would be proud of) and rich with stunning prose. A much-loved classic from one of the finest novelists of all time, and one that I could fall in love with again and again. What more can I say?!
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
I am often torn between Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as my favourite novel of all time, but there is something so special about the relationship between Jane and Mr Rochester that wins me over when it comes to romance. From the harrowing experience of Jane’s childhood and her poignant friendship with Helen Burns, all the way through to Jane’s arrival at Thornfield Hall and the terrifying presence of the madwoman in the attic, there is so much in this novel to capture the reader’s imagination. Reaching its climactic conclusion, the line, ‘Reader, I married him,’ is simply perfection. Bravo Miss Bronte. Bravo!
After the War is Over – Jennifer Robson
In this sequel to her debut novel, Somewhere in France, Canadian author, Jennifer Robson continues to explore the relationships between the characters we met in her first novel and tells of the enduring love story between Charlotte Brown and her dearest friend’s brother, Edward. Robson captures post-war England perfectly with beautiful writing and great characters. Charlotte and Edward’s is a turbulent and never-easy romance which makes for compelling reading.
The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes
Written after the global phenomenon, Me Before You, this is one of my favourite Jojo Moyes novels. Set partly in WWI and partly in modern-day London, there is much to fall in love with. I especially enjoyed the scenes written in 1916 and the portrayal of Sophie and Édouard’s captivating and heart-breaking love for each other. As the novel progresses and the mystery of their past is revealed, this is an historical romance novel that really makes for a heart-warming and memorable read.
Ellis Island – Kate Kerrigan
Kate Kerrigan’s first novel in the ‘Ellis Island’ trilogy is a gorgeous tale of a young Irishwoman, Ellie Hogan, who leaves rural Ireland to start a new life in America. Torn between her love for her husband and her love of the alluring 1920s America, Ellie is a great character who I really cared about. This is a wonderfully written and gorgeously romantic tale set in the fascinating, and starkly different, worlds of 1920s America and Ireland. City of Hope and Land of Dreams complete the trilogy, and bring Ellie’s story to an emotional conclusion.
About the Author:
Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and contributes regular feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Rachel Joyce and Jo Baker, among others.
Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. She appeared as a guest speaker at the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Historical Novel Society annual conferences in 2014.
Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.
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