Hello. As you know, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of Simon & Schuster Canada’s Timeless Tour endeavor. It features three books depicting stories from three time periods. As a fan of Historical Fiction, this was a great experience for me as it allowed me to see three stories from different eras. So today, I’d like to share with you what I’ve thought so far.
What was your favorite historical time period among the Timeless Tour reads? Did you know anything about this period before you began reading the book?
As a creature of comfort, it would be easy for me to dream about living in Versailles where excess was rampant and decadence was the norm. But I supposed living it up in that time period would depend on the hierarchy of my social status. There’s also that language barrier thing that limits my knowledge to French numerals and days of the week. So I don’t think living in that time period would work out so well for me.
In Promises to Keep, I was shown the idyllic lives of the Acadian people in the East Coast during the 17th century. It offered a bountiful farmland and an abundant sea. It shows a life that left most of its inhabitant cocooned in contentful simplicity. That is until the English invaded and ruined the party. What happened next was immeasurable hardship and loss for the Acadian people. Resilient though, as they may be, I can’t say the same for myself.
Now, who wouldn’t want to live in historic Siena, Italy? The entire country is on my bucket list so it would be easy to assume that I’d pick the 15th century to time travel to, right? Besides the fact that I wouldn’t know the first thing about living life in medieval times (that creature of comfort thing is very inconvenient), this is the Black Plague period, y’all. Where people died in the thousands! So no, I wouldn’t want to go back to this era only to suffer the same fate.
So I’m faced with a conundrum. If given the choice, which era can I truly find myself living in? Well, since all three presents different challenges, I supposed I’d pick the one where I’ll be able to control my destiny and choose Versailles. I can learn a trade and work if my social caste falls below what’s considered bourgeois. And the language barrier thing is not really all that challenging. If it can be learned, I can handle it.
How did the historical events in each book influence the character’s choices and personalities?
The one thing that the heroines in all three books have in common is resilience. It would be easy to write off Jeanne (The Enemies of Versailles) as one who’ve used the basest form of feminine power to influence her stature in life, but regardless of the method, she did what she could to change things with nary a thought to propriety. Don’t get me wrong, she realized that she was being used by the dubious and powerful Du Barry but in turn, she found a way to use this to her advantage.
Amongst the three, Amelie, perhaps was a person who characterized resilience and strength in the most obvious way possible. The incredible struggle she and her family went through during the Expulsion of the Acadians didn’t lessen her resolve to hope, to believe, and to live. And though at times she seemed like she’d reached the end of her rope, this girl just kept strengthening her resolve until she found renewed courage.
Beatrice, on the other hand, was propelled by the love of her brother who had become her father since they were orphaned when he was only 17 years old. She was also very intelligent (neurosurgeon) and very brave for continuing her brother’s quest despite having the odds stacked against her. She found a way to delay her grief if only to fulfill her brother’s legacy. Finding herself in the 13th century with no means to get back to the present didn’t faze her. She worked with what she knew and used her intelligence to survive.
If you could invite one of the Timeless Tour leading ladies (Beatrice, Jeanne, or Amelie) to dinner, who would you choose and why?
I feel like Beatrice would have a lot of stories to tell. Besides the fact that she knows a great deal about the human brain, her stint in the Middle Ages must’ve given her a different perspective about the world in general. Even though she’s a Scientist first and foremost, I can tell she’s a thinker as a whole. And the lady never stopped learning. She’s very intuitive, curious, and completely adaptable.
The Scribe of Siena starts in the present before Beatrice is transported back in time to 1347, whereas Promises to Keep and Enemies of Versailles are firmly rooted in one timeline. How did this change your reading experience?
I don’t think there’s no other way for this story to begin but at the present time. I mean, considering time travel is a key element to this novel, starting it in the past wouldn’t nearly have the same effect. I love this book. It’s perfect the way it is. 🙂
In the past, powerful women have been written out of textbooks. How do the protagonists of the Timeless Tour novels challenge the misconception that women in history were passive, submissive and dependent?
The women in the three novels were all resourceful and resilient creatures. They found ways to overcome obstacles even while restrained by the ties that bind them. Jeanne used her beauty to change her station in life; Amelie stood up to the soldiers that were holding her family hostage. With each loss she suffered, she picked herself up because she had a family who was dependent on her. Beatrice’s quest to continue her brother’s work was met with resistance from the local scholars who seemed to have their own agendas working in the background. Not to mention, her courage shown when she was transported to the Middle Ages. So time and time again, these women exuded strength, fierceness, and audacity unheard of the time period which they belong.