So Excited to Reveal the Cover for Sunflower Sisters

It has been such an emotional experience writing Sunflower Sisters, the last book of my three about Caroline Ferriday’s family. It all started with Lilac Girls back in 2000 and even then I knew I wanted to write about Caroline’s Woolsey ancestors, her great grandmother Jane Eliza and her seven daughters and son. The Civil War provides an incredible backdrop for this book and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did bringing the story to life. It comes out  March 30, 2021 and I’m on pins and needles, excited to finally be able to share it with you all!

The Animals of Lilac Girls, Lost Roses and Sunflower Sisters, the Best Part

The animals, clockwise from upper left: Psina the pet chicken from Lilac Girls, Felka, Nadia’s dog from Lilac Girls, Jarushka from Lost Roses, Tum-Tum, Agnella’s Russian toy dog from Lost Roses, Saint Joan from Sunflower Sisters and Pico, the Woolsey’s mixed breed dog from Sunflower Sisters.

A lovely silver lining to the COVID cloud has been the huge numbers of pet adoptions from shelters. This just underscores what so many of us already know, that animals are the best parts of our lives. So I thought I’d round up all the animals from my three novels (or at least the photographic inspiration for them) and put them all on one page. Saint Joan the Siamese cat and Pico (real dog who belonged to Caroline Ferriday’s great grandmother) are from novel number three, to come next spring, Sunflower Sisters. Hope you enjoy hanging out with these lovely pets as much as I have while writing about them. They’re sweethearts, all.

P.S. Do you have a favorite literary animal? Leave it in the comments…

Woohoo Going on the Road Again, This Time With the LOST ROSES Paperback.

Just can’t wait to get on the road again, this time for LOST ROSES, the prequel to LILAC GIRLS that tells the story of Caroline Ferriday’s mother Eliza Mitchell Ferriday and her fight to help Russian women who’d lost everything in the Bolshevik Revolution. It’s out in paperback March 3rd and can’t wait to criss-cross the country once again, sharing the true story behind the book AND disclosing what’s to come in the third book in the series. Hope I’m coming to your hometown–I will post links to the events on my website marthahallkelly.com under events.

The Arrival of Seventeen Pounds of LOST ROSES Paperbacks Brightened Up This Snowy Connecticut Day.

This was a fun box to open, LOST ROSES paperbacks hot off the presses. Love seeing the photos they chose for the paperback author’s note! Can’t wait to get out on the paperback tour in March to spread the word.

 

How Visting Rue Chabonais in Paris Helped the Brothel in Lost Roses Come Alive

When I was researching Lost Roses, spending time in Paris was a wonderful necessity and I visited Rue Chabanais, former site of the infamous brothel, since it features prominently in the book. Once, the five-story townhouse was decorated as a grotto, with toadstool tables, faux rocks and a noisy waterfall, the most sumptuous house of pleasure in Europe at the time. Opened and operated by Madame Kelly starting in 1846 close to the the Louvre, Le Chabanais entertained high-society visitors who spent time in the arms of thirty black-stockinged courtesans in residence.

The Le Chabanais courtesans were famous for their black stockings.

Every room at the brothel had a theme. The Louis XVI room provided decadent royal nostalgia, and the Moorish room was a favorite of poet Guy de Maupassant, who made his own replica of the room in his home. A frequent guest of Le Chabanais, King Edward VII had a sphinx copper bathtub made for his favorite suite to provide champagne skinny dips, while Toulouse-Lautrec, another famous visitor, donated sixteen oil paintings featuring centaurs in the throes of passion.

King Edward’s tub

Today there is little trace of the brothel, which shuttered in 1946. It exists as an exotic footnote in French history and in the pages of Lost Roses, where Sofya is forced to live for a while, along with former aristocratic Russians forced to work as courtesans, and where she ends up working as an accounts collector.

The former home of the brothel as it is today, no trace of the sumptuously decorated place.
The street today.