Santa Montefiore: On Reading and Research

Hello, everyone.

I have Ms. Santa Montefiore on the blog today for my Timeless Tour stop. I never know what questions to ask whenever I do these kind of things. And sometimes, I ask too many questions that the blog post becomes a novel. 🙂 So today, I limited my questions to three and I made sure they count.

Thank you for taking the time, Ms. Santafiore. I loved your book and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the Devirells.

I noticed that Songs of Love and War was not the original title of the novel. Was there a specific reason for this? 

That’s a good question. I think the American’s felt the title was too grand and remote for their readership. They called it The Girl in the Castle and later changed it to The Irish Girl. To be honest it’s very unsatisfactory and causes all sorts of problems because people buy the book thinking it’s new and then get furious with me when they realise they’ve already read it under a different title. All the bad reviews on Amazon were about that, not about the book, which was really depressing for me. I prefer my foreign publishers to keep the same title to avoid that confusion!


I can only imagine! I must say that these titles and covers still look gorgeous and very much appropriate. 

Songs of Love and War is such an epic saga spanning years and generations of history. I can only imagine the amount of work it took you to write it. What was the most interesting fact that you’ve discovered during your research of this book?

I knew very little about the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War that followed. While researching the books I learned a great deal about the Irish struggle for independence. It was fascinating and enlightening, and I really sympathised with their cause.  I was lucky enough to meet a man on the internet, who was a fan of my work, who was Irish, born in Co Cork, and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of his country’s history. He was full of amazing stories. I had no idea that poor children did not wear shoes, even in midwinter in the snow! Right up until the second world war! That’s extraordinary. The poverty was terrible. I immersed myself in the history by reading wonderful novels as well as watching movies, and became totally obsessed with that era. I adore Ireland, but my love of that beautiful, gothic, mystical island has definitely deepened through my learning about it.

Based on what I’ve read, the Irish people were sure made from some tough stuff!


I read some wonderful book, here they are: Daphne du Maurier’s Hungry Hill;  Walled Garden by Annabel Goff; Trinity by Leon Uris; A Long Long Way, by Sebastian Barry; Troubles by JG Farrell; Voices from the Great Houses, Cork and Kerry by Jane O’Hea O’Keefe; Picnic in a Foreign Land by Ann Morrow; The Children of Castletown House by Sarah Conolly-Carew; Experiences of an Irish R.M.  Somerville & Ross. I also watched movies like Michael Collins and The Wind that Shakes the Barley.




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