THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS (Daughters of La Lune #1)
by M.J. Rose
Gothic Historical Fantasy
Published by Atria Books on March 17th, 2015
Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M. J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.
Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.
Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.
This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul”, her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery.
Praise for The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“This bell époque thriller is a haunting tale of obsessive passions.” —People Magazine
“Provocative, erotic, and spellbindingly haunting…will have the reader totally mesmerized cover-to-cover….a ‘must-have’ novel.” —Suspense Magazine
“A haunting tale of erotic love…. M.J. Rose seamlessly weaves historical events throughout this story filled with distinctive characters that will keep the reader captivated to the end.” —Examiner.com
“Rose has a talent for compelling writing, and this time she has outdone herself. Fear, desire, lust and raw emotion ooze off the page.” —Associated Press
“Haunting tale of possession.” —Publishers Weekly
“Rose’s new series offers her specialty, a unique and captivating supernatural angle, set in an intriguing belle epoque Paris — lush descriptions, intricate plot and mesmerizing storytelling. Sensual, evocative, mysterious and haunting.” —Kirkus
“Mixes reality and illusion, darkness and light, mystery and romance into an adult fairy tale. [Rose] stirs her readers curiosities and imaginations, opening their eyes to the cultural, intellectual and artistic excitement that marked the Belle Epoque period. Unforgettable, full-bodied characters and richly detailed narrative result in an entrancing read that will be long savored.” —Library Journal (Starred Review)
“An elegant tale of rare depth and beauty, as brilliantly crafted as it is wondrously told….melds the normal and paranormal in the kind of seamless fashion reserved for such classic ghost stories as Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.” —Providence Journal
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Paris, France April 1894
I did not cause the madness, the deaths, or the rest of the tragedies any more than I painted the paintings. I had help, her help. Or perhaps I should say she forced her help on me. And so this story—which began with me fleeing my home in order to escape my husband and might very well end tomorrow, in a duel, in the Bois de Boulogne at dawn—is as much hers as mine. Or in fact more hers than mine. For she is the fountainhead. The fascination. She is La Lune. Woman of moon dreams, of legends and of nightmares. Who took me from the light and into the darkness. Who imprisoned me and set me free.
Or is it the other way around?
"Your questions," my father always said to me, "will be your saving grace. A curious mind is the most important attribute any man or woman can possess. Now if you can just temper your impulsiveness..."
If I had a curious mind, I'd inherited it from him. And he'd nurtured it. Philippe Salome was on the board of New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and helped found the American Museum of Natural History, whose cornerstone was laid on my fifth birthday.
I remember sitting atop my father's shoulders that day, watching the groundbreaking ceremony and thinking the whole celebration was for me. He called it "our museum," didn't he? And for much of my life I thought it actually did belong to us, along with our mansion on Fifth Avenue and our summerhouse in Newport. Until it was gone, I understood so little about wealth and the price you pay for it. But isn't that always the way?
Our museum's vast halls and endless exhibit rooms fascinated me as much as they did my father—which pleased him, I could tell. We'd meander through exhibits, my small hand in his large one, and he'd keep me spellbound with stories about items on display. I'd ask for more, always just one more, and he'd laugh and tease: "My Sandrine, does your capacity for stories know no bounds?"
But it pleased him, and he'd always tell me another.
I especially loved the stories he told me about the gems and fate and destiny always ending them by saying: "You will make your own fate, Sandrine, I'm sure of it."
Was my father right? Do we make our own destiny? I think back now to the stepping-stones that I've walked to reach this moment in time.
Were the incidents of my making? Or were they my fate?
The most difficult steps I took were after certain people died. No deaths were caused by me, but at the same time, none would have occurred were it not for me.
So many deaths. The first was on the morning of my fifteenth birthday, when I saw a boy beaten and tragically die because of our harmless kisses. The next was the night almost ten years later, when I heard the prelude to my father's death and learned the truth about Benjamin, my husband. And then there were more. Each was an end-ing that, ironically, became a new beginning for me.
The one thing I am now sure of is that if there is such a thing as destiny, it is a result of our passion, be that for money, power, or love. Passion, for better or worse. It can keep a soul alive even if all that survives is a shimmering. I've even seen it. I've been bathed in it. I've been changed by it.
Four months ago I snuck into Paris on a wet, chilly January night like a criminal, hiding my face in my shawl, taking extra care to be sure I wasn't followed.
I stood on the stoop of my grandmother's house and lifted the hand-shaped bronze door knocker and let it drop. The sound of the metal echoed inside. Her home was on a lane blocked off from rue des Saints-Pères by wide wooden double doors. Maison de la Lune, as it was called, was one of a half dozen four-story mid-eighteenthcentury stone houses that shared a courtyard that backed up onto rue du Dragon. Hidden clusters like this were a common configuration in Paris.These small enclaves offered privacy and quiet from the busy city. Usually the porte cochère was locked and one had to ring for the concierge, but I'd found the heavy doors ajar and hadn't had to wait for service.
I let the door knocker fall again. Light from a street lamp glinted off the golden metal. It was a strange object. Usually on these things the bronze hand's palm faced the door. But this one was palm out, almost warning the visitor to reconsider requesting entrance.
I was anxious and impatient. I'd been cautious on my journey from New York to Southampton and kept to my cabin. I'd left a letter telling Benjamin I'd gone to visit friends in Virginia and assumed that once he returned and read it, it would be at least a week before he'd realize all was not what it seemed. One thing I had known for certain—he would never look for me in France. It would be inconceivable to Benjamin that any wife of his could cross the ocean alone.
Or so I assured myself until my husband's banking associate, William Lenox, spotted me on board. When he expressed surprise I was traveling by myself, I concocted a story but was worried he didn't believe me. My only consolation was that we had docked in England and I had since crossed the channel into France. So even if Benjamin did come looking, he wouldn't know where I'd gone.
That very first night in Paris, as I waited for my grandmother's maid to open the door, I knew I had to stop thinking of what I had run away from. So I refocused on the house I stood before and as I did, felt an overwhelming sense of belonging, of being welcome. Here I would be safe.
First, tell me a little about your book and why you wanted to write this particular story….
My great grandmother was born in Paris in the 1880s and was in fact a witch and I wanted to explore what that meant to women of her generation. I was also fascinated with the period – the Belle Epoch in France. Writing this book gave me an excuse to do both.
I believe mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice... books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?
I wanted to be a painter and studied art but I always wrote as well. I think my interest in writing came very early —- when I read The Secret Garden when I was eight.
What inspired you to write your first book and what was it?
I had one of my screenplays stolen and by a big studio in Hollywood and made into a film. It was more expensive to sue them than it they would have owed me since the movie was a flop. My entertainment lawyer told me it was harder to have a book stolen than a screenplay… so instead of writing the next idea as a movie, I wrote it as a novel. It never got published though. It was terrible
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, I never do that. I’d be too bored.
Out of all the characters in your book, who is your favorite to write? There’s always a fan favorite to read about but sometimes it’s the side characters that are the most fun
The Grandmother was my favorite beause I had a horrible relatioship with one of my grandmother’s and this was my chance to get back at her.
Is your book part of a series, and if so, how many will there be?
A loose series… they can all be read out of order as stand alones but they will be connected as well. And at least three but possibly more.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the next book and running my marketing companies AuthorBuzz and 1001DarkNights.com
How do you chose when/which characters die in your books?
I don’t chose… the story tells me. Its very organic for me. The story really dictactes the action… I’m just the scribe writing down what is happening.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
If I dared re-read it I’d have a thousands sentences to change, I’m sure.
Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?
My publisher hires an artist Alan Dingman who is amazing. I do come up with some early images, yes. But the magic is all Alan.
Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
That I am a very neurotic person
Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because?
The Portrait of Jenny by Robert Nathan – so overlooked.
The Picure of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - it is fantastic.
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin – a pitch perfect novel in every way.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you disappear into the story and enjoy your time there.
This or that...
A. Coffee addict?
No. Gree tea all morning. One espresso in the avernoon.
B. What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage
Dirty Martinis or Rose wine.
C. Favorite Food?
D. If you had to chose Coffee or Chocolate? –don’t laugh, I don’t like chocolate so it’s quite easy for me, but a LOT of people NEED both LOL
E. Beach or mountains?
F. Winter or summer?
G. vampires or werewolves?
H. Cold or hot?
I. Favorite color?
J. Night or day?
K. Moonlight or sunlight?
L. Bad boy or good guy next door?
One first then the other.
Ok, that’s enough! LOL thanks so much for coming visit me, and thanks so much, for doing this with us! I appreciate it and I look forward to the next time!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it. Rose’s work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and currently serves, with Lee Child, as the organization’s co-president. Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.
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