Tag: Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Writers of the Jazz Age

Writers of the Jazz Age

Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love the imagery and depiction of the 1920’s idol rich in The Great Gatsby, so I read Tender is the Night, another of Fitzgerald’s novels written post WWI. The writing style is very different to that in The Great Gatsby and difficult initially to become immersed in. But I persisted and found this tragic love story very haunting and beautiful. This Jazz Age novel interested me for another reason. I set my novel, The Last Hotel (Tellwell) in Beaulieu-sur-Mer which is where the opening chapters of  Tender is the Night is also set but of course a century earlier. I was so surprised when I read the opening lines of the novel;

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, almost halfway between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel.’

How’s that for coincidence! A hotel!

Except that my hotel is neither large nor pink. But it could be considered proud due the quality of its occupants, my lovely characters.

The French Riviera and Writers of the Jazz Age

The 1920’s Riviera was a magnet for writers like Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway to while away their summers mingling with other writers and artists. They would laze on the beaches glorying in the idyllic Mediterranean climate, and drink cocktails at sunset in their hotel bars. Somewhere in between they would pen a few words of their latest work in progress. To understand the frenetic jazz era, you must reflect on the horrors of WWI that wiped out a whole generation of young men. Then The Spanish Flu wiped out a heap more. The crazy pace and vanity of the 1920’s was a reaction to these tragedies. A sort of ’Live like you never have before’ mentality. We may see our own version of The Jazz Age once Covid-19 is over.

Who Was Francis Scott Fitzgerald?

Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in Minnesota. He was named after cousin Francis Scott Key who wrote the lyrics to the American national anthem. ‘Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light…’etc. Fitzgerald entered Princeton in 1913 and apart from study, he wrote musicals. He dropped out in 1917 to enlist in the US Army and before going off to fight in WWI he submitted his first hastily finished manuscript, A Romantic Egoist, lest he die in the fighting. None of us writers have that sort of deadline!

Of course, he survived to write the novels This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. He and Hemingway stole all the best book titles! None of these masterpieces sold well in his time and he spiraled into alcoholism beside his mentally ill wife Zelda. He sadly died an untimely death at just 44, never achieving full recognition for his beautiful haunting prose.

 Ernest Hemingway

Fitzgerald’s life rather parallels that of Hemingway, another American who went to Paris after WWI. Both men with accompanying women and alcohol issues liked to travel around while they wrote, often spending long periods in The Riviera. Hemingway also frequented Spain and was fond of bull fights and hunting. I find his books rather shocking in their depiction of cruelty to animals especially bulls. Neither does he write with the beautiful flowing prose of Fitzgerald but instead in a blunt, terse way. Possibly a man’s writer. He too stole all the best book titles. The Sun Also Rises, To Have and Have not, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Farewell to Arms. They sound wonderful but sadly though they sound inviting, his writing is not for me. But it is interesting to see the different styles of these writers of The Jazz Age.

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The Last Hotel-Interview with Author

The Last Hotel-Interview with Author

An Interview with Joni Scott, Author of The Last Hotel

First of all, congratulations on publishing your book. How long did it take to write it?

Thank you, Maureen and thank you for taking a chance on me and my book. The Last Hotel was very keen to be written, occupying my mind day and night so it took five months then a few months back and forth with publisher about edits, quotes, possible inclusion of song lyrics etc

Given that the story is inspired by real events, are there details that you chose to omit from this book?

I changed names, businesses and did not mention the airline company that we flew with as I gave them negative press. I didn’t want to get sued by an airline! Only the first half of the book is based on real events, up to the meeting of strangers at the airport. After that fiction took over. I have never been to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, only passed it on the train that night we fled Italy for France. The name caught my fancy as it translates as ‘beautiful place by the sea’ When I met the interesting people at Nice airport the next day, I had the idea for the book, like a light bulb moment. My husband and I shuffled around hotels for another week and kept bumping into Kaz and Lou the two young women who lost their jobs in St Tropez, but we never saw the others again. I don’t know if they went home soon after or stayed put in France .I so wished I had taken names and adresses so I could tell these lovely people that I put them in a book!
The second half of the story is a “what if’” version of life. Personally, I would have loved to have stayed and met Lotte and Rene and darling Henri and Juliette. But they are fictional characters I imagined just like the bakery and bookshop. Sitting on my couch back in Australia, I walked through the places in Beaulieu on Google Earth and discovered that in the street there really is a bakery and bookshop! How cool is that! Maybe someone will ask them, “are you the bakery in The Last Hotel?” I hope a reader will go there to check out the town. I intend to when we can travel overseas again.
In reality, we managed a flight home early May. I started writing the book the day I returned home. It was so vivid, I had to get going with it despite only having one functional hand, my left one.
I did not get the use of right one back until November 2020 and it is still very stiff. 

Have you ever considered writing a personal memoir?

I think every book I have written (now 3) contains aspects of oneself ie memories of childhood, relationships. Who would want to read my memoir anyhow? haha

What was the hardest scene to write?

The chapter where I introduce Jenny’s family. I rewrote the part about Pieter quite a few times as I didn’t want to offend any lesbian readers and having no experience of them, I wasn’t sure how Pieter should think .In the end I chose confusion for her as she is still young and discovering herself.

In your opinion, is it prudent for people to start travelling again?

We can travel much yet . However, I understand people have been cooped up so long in Europe and Britain that if the governments don’t allow it, there could be mass anarchy. We have had it so easy in Australia, particularly Queensland compared to the rest of the world. We only had to wear masks for a short time yet people still complained. Time will tell if it is prudent to allow travel again. Once it is the European summer, there could be another wave.

If you could go back in time before the pandemic, what would you do differently?

I would still risk the trip to Italy. If I had not gone in the slim time frame of those few days, before we couldn’t go overseas and before Italy shut borders, I would still be in agony with my arm, shoulder and hand. Literally it was like being on fire 24/7. I am on a Facebook group for CRPS( Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), and people suffer terribly. Many have experienced it spreading from limb to limb or over the whole body. It is called the suicide disease. So, I feel so fortunate to have been able to have treatment and get 80-90% better. The treatment is most effective in the first year. If I had not gone when we did, who knows when I could have gone to Italy for the infusions? The Last Hotel would not have happened and that would be sad. The book will always be so special to me as I wrote it in such adverse conditions ie arm propped up on pillows, ergonomic keyboards, mice, apple pencils, dictate devices etc. Everyone said I was crazy!

What do you miss most about pre-covid life?

In Australia, it has not been bad but overseas, people have been separated from loved ones and how the very demonstrative Italians, French and Spanish have managed without all those hugs and kisses, I cannot imagine. I suppose social distancing has led to people being wary of each other which is rather sad .If it goes on too long, I will miss travelling overseas.

Is there something we can cherish about this new way of life?

Appreciating home life more? I have enjoyed being home more, writing, doing jig-saws etc. while I recuperated my right side. I am grateful to be healthy and home in Australia. So many Australians are still stranded overseas. If we had stayed on the Riviera, would we still be there, unable to get home?

Is there another book in the making?

Yes, a few. I have finished the sequel to Whispers through Time, my first historical novel based on the family research of my sister. This ‘sequel book’, Time, Heal my Heart, is both a stand alone romantic chronicle of life during world war 1 and a sequel to the story of Winifred, my grandmother. The book is at the publisher now and will be released this year. Again, very interesting characters invited themselves into my book and set up their own sub plot! I had to put up a sign, No Vacancies! lol
Also I am part way through another book, ‘Tangles’, inspired by my hair dresser. I realised hair dressers are part psychologists, meeting and advising so many people, so I have a full complement of characters in this modern day drama of life in the suburbs. A real woman’s book, this one, with an interesting Indian sub-plot.

Where can your fans and well wishers connect with you?

I have a few websites, one on Austen Macauley Publishing, then my official one is joniscottauthor.com then an author site on Goodreads. Reviews are welcome!

The Last Hotel is available on paperback and kindle format.

The Last Hotel review

The Last Hotel review

Post by Laura Bach » 26 Jul 2021, 06:43
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Last Hotel” by Joni Scott.]

We all went through this pandemic together and gathered all sorts of stories about it. Authors are the ones who decide to share their experiences, thus giving us precious books like The Last Hotel by Joni Scott. Set on the beautiful French Riviera in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the novel tells of the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic and how a group of people found peace during such a chaotic time.

The Last Hotel brings together people from all over the world. Whether it’s a ballet dancer who comes for a new job in Nice, an ill woman who seeks a cure in northern Italy, or just people who need to get away from their lives, they will all find themselves both in danger and in absolute peace together.

I was especially touched by Maggie’s story, an Australian woman who flies to Italy with her husband in search of a miraculous cure for her rare pain disease, CRPS. Maggie was well until her wrist pain turned into “the most painful disease known to humankind,” making her feel ill and old. The promise of a cure gives her hope, but that changes when Italy is hit by the virus. Every hotel starts to close on her and her husband like they will be forced to go home, spending lots of money and not solving anything. But due to some very kind bakery owners, miracles do happen. The way Joni Scott described Maggie’s fear of the pain made everything so real and helped me empathize with her character. This vivid depicture of life makes a powerful impression on the reader. The way the author paints the warm colors of the French Riviera inspires me to want to visit it immediately, as the pandemic could never take away the beauty of this piece of heaven.

The beginnings of the chapters are sprinkled with concerning news about the pandemic. The events accurately match the restrictions and lockdowns that were in place at that time, making everything feel real. Even though the subject is heavy, the author delivers it in a light manner, emphasizing the great things that were born out of this unique experience, like some life-long friendships and romances. Actually, after reading the whole book, it seems that the characters needed the virus in order to rediscover themselves.

Since this book will have the characters stuck in lockdown for some time, it’s only natural to be focused on their development. The Last Hotel has a large cast of characters, all with different stories that lead them to the same place at the same time. What’s heart-warming is how they all end up as a ‘pandemic family.’ Small romances are bound to happen, teaching us that it’s never too late to find love. The characters are full of life and personality. I loved that the author paid close attention to how characters speak, like adding accents to French people speaking English. Other characters have speaking impairments, like stuttering. Also, all characters have a backstory and are constantly growing, culminating in a beautiful artistic moment.

Sequel to Whispers Through Time

Sequel to Whispers Through Time

I have finished writing the sequel to Whispers through Time. Trying to find an original title was not easy. Hemingway took the best of them! I  So hoping the title, Time, Heal my Heart is unique and fitting for this sequel to my first historical romance novel. It captures the themes of the book, Time and Love.

TIME HEAL MY HEART

 

TIME HEAL my HEART is in the process of being published with Austin-Macauley, London where its predecessor, Whispers Through Time,  the first book in my Time Trilogy was published in 2020. Hopefully, it will be released mid to late 2022. Time Heal My Heart  can be read as a stand alone novel or exciting sequel to Whispers through Time. A wonderful saga of love, loss and family, it continues the story of sisters Winnie and Francesca now in Sydney, Australia. Their lives, like millions world wide, are thrown into unexpected turmoil by the outbreak of World War One. Gustave their brother is soon fighting on the Western Front in France as he was already part of the Royal Fusiliers. The sister’s  new husbands are obliged to support the war once Australia joins the British War Effort. The women too are swept up in the domestic war effort, The Home Front. An intriguing subplot follows the secretive love story of Lisbette, Winnie’s French-born neighbour, relocating the storyline to the magical isle of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Another parallel storyline centres on war torn France involving the tragedy of shattered war orphans. But as storylines must, these threads weave together to create a tapestry of love and loss in wartime.

For those wondering whether Francesca finds love again after her tragic affair in Whispers Through Time, the answer is a resounding yes. But it would be a spoiler to tell you the identity of the lucky fellow. It is Winifred this time who has loss she must recover from. In this respect I stayed faithful to the real life events of my grandmother’s life. As this book is set during World War One, it encompasses a challenging time for our characters. Both Australia, the sister’s new home and England, their childhood home are at war and soon the whole world is embroiled in conflict when America enters in 1917. The horrific violence, lasting five years, culminates in the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1919. I was researching this flu when COVID happened in 2019 exactly a century later. Such a sense of deja vu! As some may know, I had a medical crisis and terrible diagnosis of CRPS in January 2020. I lost the use of my right side and so could not do much especially write. Instead of finishing the novel, I booked into a clinic in Italy that offered a cure for CRPS. Unfortunately Covid broke out there just before my flight. But I still went, had the treatment in lockdown in Genova, Italy which inspired me to write The Last Hotel. This story is partly based on my flight from Italy to the French border and subsequent lockdown on the French Riviera in the last hotel open. During lockdown near Nice, in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, I started writing The Last Hotel with my left hand, finishing it when I finally managed a flight home to Australia later that year.

Only once this contemporary novel was published in March 2021 did I resume Time, Heal My Heart. By then I could use my right hand again though the recovery was only 80 per cent. I’ll never be a speed typist but can slow poke along in a lop-sided fashion.
So please stay tuned for the continuation of the life of sisters Francesca and Winifred! The final book in the trilogy will not take so long, I promise as already half written.