It's a safe bet to say that the twentieth century decade that is on most people's lips these days in the 1920s, a fact that is spurred on largely by the latest film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic, The Great Gatsby, which recently hits theaters across the world. I've always been a Fitzgerald fan and looking forward to seeing this film asap; however the roaring twenties have been on my mind for months now, long before DiCaprio sashayed onto the big screen as Jay Gatsby.
The reason for this stems almost entirely from the fact that last year, as I mentioned in this post, Tony I finally started watching the show Boardwalk Empire, were instantly hooked, and promptly worked our way through every single episode that had been released up until that point.
There are many reasons to enjoy this show, but without a doubt one of the main ones for me has been the superb, detail oriented costuming. Unlike many shows and movies that have been set in the twenties over the years, Boardwalk Empire doesn't just focus on flapper fashions (though there are scads of those, too), but instead encompasses a wide range of clothing that women of various socioeconomic classes wore during the era.
It's refreshing to see such outfits, and to imagine what I would have been likely to have worn myself had I been alive at the time. Between the hair (including some longer, non-bobbed styles), make-up, and clothes presented on the show, a passion for the twenties was rekindled in a new way in my heart, and I've found myself more and more drawn towards the era ever since.
As such, when I was recently contacted by a lovely lady from Big Honcho Media on behalf of Harlequin Books who was curious to know if I'd like to review (and hold a giveaway for) a copy of New York Times best selling author Deanna Raybourn's latest release, A Spear of Summer Grass, which is set in the 1920s, I gladly jumped at the chance.
I tend to be much more of a non-fiction and classic lit reader, generally spending considerably less time with modern fiction than either of those two categories. As such, it was a refreshing change of pace to settle in with a hot-off-the-presses piece of contemporary fiction recently while I continued to recover from my surgery in April.
A Spear of Summer Grass tells the tale of a young woman named Delilah Drummond, who boasts both a checked past and a rather sorted present, and who finds herself fleeing her wild life in Paris, when a particular scandal (involving her recently deceased husband) begins taking up too much space in the gossip columns.
Leaving Europe and nearly everyone she knows (save for her cousin, Dodo) behind, Delilah embarks to Kenya, where she takes up residence in one of her ex-stepfather's (Delilah's mother doesn't exactly have a spotless record in the romance department herself) homes, which is called Fairlight. Gradually she finds herself falling for both the exotic landscape and a chap named Ryder White who acts as her guide in this foreign, exciting, beautiful - and at times dangerous - landscape.
Drama, seductive romance, intrigue and life lessons a plenty unfold for Delilah as her stay in Kenya continues, while Raybourn takes the reader on their own journey through this corner of the the Dark Continent, painting a vivid, engaging picture of a time and place that both seem wildly distant and close enough to reach out and touch. The plot, centered as it may be in the 1920s, could just as easily have taken place twenty, forty, or even some ninety years later, in the present day world, a trait which I didn't find off-putting in the slightest to the context of this tale.
The storyline moves along fluidly and enjoyably, and one finds themselves empathizing to a certain degree with each twist and plot turn that comes Ms. Drummond's way (some of which are, undoubtedly more than a little self-inflicted), as well how she often tries to make the best of the less than stellar situation she finds herself amply thrust into at Fairlight, where life is rarely a bed of African violets for her.
Delilah, like most memorable literary characters is rather far from perfect, but one finds in her a a certain reliability and the desire to see life ultimately work out for this enigmatic, troubled, adventurous young woman before the final chapter comes to a close.
This is the first book by Deanna Raybourn (who is well known for her Lady Julie Grey series) that I've ever read, and overall I quite enjoyed it. Raybourn shines as a writer when it comes to the lyrical, captivating way she describes the landscape of Kenya, and it was this element of the story that I found myself most enjoying as the book progressed. A Blade of Summer Grass was what I'd consider to be a light, enjoyable, easy read. The 1920s timeframe and African backdrop worked well together, and created an imaginary setting that one could easily picture themselves in, perhaps under different circumstances, too.
If, like me, you're in a 1920s mood these days or simply enjoy a good historical fiction read, then I've got great news for you, because this week we're giving away two paperback copies of A Spear of Summer Grass.
One copy will go to a reader in either Canada or America, and will be shipped out from the publisher. The other is up for grabs by one lucky reader from anywhere else in the whole wide world and will be sent to you from me directly (the books themselves that each reader will receive are identical, it's just that the only way I could open this giveaway up to readers around the world was to mail out that copy myself).
You can earn as many as six separate entries in this giveaway, by doing any (or all) of the following things.
1. Leave a comment in which you tell me one or more reasons, of any kind, why you like the 1920s.
2. Like Chronically Vintage on Facebook.
3. Post about this giveaway on Facebook, providing a link back to your post in your comment here.
4. Follow Chronically Vintage on Twitter.
5. Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter, including a link back to this post in your tweet.
6. Write about this giveaway on your own site, including a link back to this post. Once you've done so, be sure to come back and leave a comment letting me know about your post.
Please make sure to leave a separate comment specifying each of the ways in which you entered this giveaway, so as to increase your odds of winning.
This giveaway will run until 11:59 PST on Sunday May 26, 2013, and will, as detailed above, have two winners - one from either Canada or America, and one from any other country in the world. Both winners will be drawn using a random number generator and will be announced in a blog post here within 48 hours of the giveaway concluding.
I found Deanna Raybourn's latest offering to be precisely the kind of book that be perfect for a day of leisurely reading on the beach (where no doubt the sand beneath your toes would only help add further dimension to the author’s beautiful descriptions of Kenya) or anytime you're in the mood for a the kind of face paced, easy-to-get-through story that is packed with the promise of romance, excitement, and early twentieth century life.
Thank you very much in advance to all those who enter this giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of A Spear of Summer Grass. Best of luck to everyone!