Wednesday, March 25, 2015

After A Fashion -- With Character Interview

Jen Turano

Might I say that Jen Turano is one of the most brilliant historical novelists? After a Fashion is her fifth book about the Gilded Age, and after reading the first, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, she vaulted into the ranks of my top 5 favorite authors of all time!

Jen has a way of creating characters who have the best of intentions, yet they always seem to fall into the craziest of circumstances. Yet it's not like she PUTS them there -- their personalities and desires to get to the bottom of problems and/or do the right thing seems to naturally cause them to find themselves in chaos. Miss Harriet Peabody of After a Fashion is no exception. We learn of a fascinating (and disastrous) childhood that has resulted in a tough life of scraping every penny together. When she loses her job for being in the right place at a difficult time, she is forced to find other means of employment. In a story that is somewhat reminiscent of the movie Pretty Woman (without the unseemly prostitution), Harriet agrees to pretend to be the woman on the arm of a saavy businessman, Mr. Oliver Addleshaw.

Then there is Buford, Mr. Addleshaw's large, slobbery, and definitely unmannerly beast of a dog, who knows just when to roll on his back and sweetly demand that his belly be rubbed! Buford adds a boatload of fun and humor to this story!

This story is full of intrigue, hilarious situations, and wonderful romance. It is the beginning of a new series, and if the foreshadowing is any indication, this series (A Class of Their Own) will be just as good, if not even better, than her Ladies of Distinction series! If you want a fun read with meaty lessons to be learned, check out Jen Turano's books.

You can find out more about her books at , and you can find out more about Miss Harriet Peabody in the interview, below! NOTE: When you go to Jen Turano's website, be sure to check out this amazing story!

Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.
Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when the lady he brought to town to assist him with entertaining his potential business partner reneges on their agreement. When this unreliable, and slightly deranged, lady causes the hapless Harriet to lose her job, Oliver tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.
Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

Jen Turano is the critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction Series, published through Bethany House.  Her novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Romance for 2013. She makes her home in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and her son.JenTurano

When Jen’s not writing, she spends her time hiking around Colorado, socializing with friends and family, and taking great pride in watching Dominic, who will soon be off to college, turn into a remarkable young man.  (For readers of A Change of Fortune – Dominic was the inspiration behind little Ben – which is why you won’t be surprised to learn Jen’s been slightly taken aback over the fact Dominic’s turned out so well.)


1.     At the beginning of the book you work for Mrs. Feinman, who owns a hat store. Where do you get ideas for your hat designs?

I get most of my ideas by simply walking down the street.  Ladies have begun to add far more embellishments to all aspects of their wardrobes, including what used to be simple walking dresses.  That allowed me to know that they’re looking for bigger and more extravagant creations to wear on their heads.  Feathers are a must, as are bows, although…I do feel so sorry for all the poor birds that have been de-feathered over the past few years.  One has to wonder if perhaps, just perhaps, our love of greater and more unusual creations to wear upon our persons will end up killing off some of our most beautiful birds and then, well…we’ll be sorry we used them so carelessly, won’t we?

2.     You are particularly adept at reconstructing old gowns to create new styles. How did you learn this skill?

It all came out of necessity, Mrs. Stitch.  Many of the garments that are donated to the area churches come to those churches torn and stained.  In order to create something beautiful from something tired and used, I have to use my scissors quite industriously. That means I sometimes end up creating styles I never planned to create because I’m forced to snip away more material than I’d intended. 

3.     You have a fascinating history of moving from place to place. How has that influenced your approach to life?

I greatly appreciate having a room to call my own these days.  Even though it isn’t much, I know I won’t have to pack up and leave on a whim, (or what was usually a dire circumstance,) in the middle of the night like I did so often when I lived with my aunt.  And, because I was moved around so much in my younger years, I was never able to make good friends, something that changed when I met Miss Lucetta Plum and Miss Millie Longfellow.  They are two of the nicest ladies in New York and are also two ladies I’m incredibly fortunate to have as friends.

4.     Where do you see yourself five years into the future?

I would hope that I would no longer be working for Mrs. Fienman.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate everything she has done for me, but…she is a bit stingy with a wage, yet expects her employees to work long hours.  I would like to open up a shop of my own – nothing fancy, mind you, but even though I would still be working long hours, and I am sure the funds I’d earn would still be meager, I would not be dependent on anyone but myself, and that is something I have dreamed about forever. 

5.     If you were to take me on a tour of your town, what would you most like to show me?

The department stores, of course, many of which may be found on the “Ladies Mile.”  There’s Arnold Constable & Company, B. Altman, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and we mustn’t forget A.T. Stewart’s Iron Palace.  Did you know that poor Mr. Stewart, after he died a few years back, had his body stolen and held for ransom?  I do believe that’s why Mr. Vanderbilt, the Commodore as so many people called him, hired on so many guards to watch over his gravesite in the hopes that no one will make off with his body and hold it for ransom.  It’s all rather gruesome if you think about it…but…enough about that morbid subject.

6.     In what ways are you like your 'friend', Jen Turano?

Jen is a rather no-nonsense type of lady, which is why we get along so famously.  I’ve always been told I’m incredibly practical, and that’s something Jen and I share.  She’s been known to have a creative side, although she can’t sew a straight line to save her soul.  But, she values the company of her very good friends, and that’s something we both have in common. 

 You can buy a copy of the book HERE

Thanks to Jen Turano and Bethany House Publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Honestly - I LOVED this book!

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