today is my spot on Ilana Fox’s blog tour for her new release, ‘The Glittering Art of Falling Apart’ and I have the pleasure to welcome lovely Ilana to my blog with a guest piece about the inspiration for her new book. It’s a layered story about the Tempest family and it spans during few decades, when we meet Lilie, Eliza and Cassie. I’d like to say massive thanks to lovely Elaine Egan from Orion for the chance to take part in this blog tour and lovely Ilana for sharing her inspiration with us. As the story partially happens in SOHO, and you want to find out more about the 70s and the story, do check this Ilana’s site dedicated to the book.
INSPIRATION FOR THE NOVEL
I’ve always loved Soho and local history, and I’ve wanted to write a novel that was about the different generations of the same family for a long time. My grandparents used to spend a fair bit of time in Soho, and I’d often wonder if I went to the same places as they did. Obviously not much of what was in Soho 50 years ago is still around now – even poor Kettners has shut for a while so it can be reinvented – but many of the buildings are still the same.
When I spoke with my grandparents about it they told me that they took me to HostariaRomana, an Italian restaurant at the top of a staircase at 70 Dean St, in the early 1980s. I was a toddler then, and don’t remember it, but apparently I fell asleep at the table and the waiters were so charmed that they made me a little bed in the restaurant. My grandmother then told me that when we left the restaurant I insisted on walking out myself, and when I got onto the pavement I started to flirt with a couple of men, who humoured me and played along. Fast forward 30 years and I’m still behaving the same way on the same Soho streets.
HostariaRomana no longer exists, but the building at 70 Dean St does: it’s now the Dean St Townhouse where I have spent far too much money over far too many evenings drinking far too many cocktails. 69 & 70 Dean Street are two proud Georgian buildings that have homed everyone to King Charles II’s mistress to the London Bohemians who ate, danced and played at the Gargoyle Club from the mid-1920s, and I’m fascinated by the building’s history.
I like that a place I go for dinner used to be home to a racy private members club – but more importantly, I love the building for the history it holds for me and my family. When I go there I can imagine my grandparents and I there 30 years ago, and it’s this feeling – of sharing an experience with your family despite it being in different eras – that inspired THE GLITTERING ART OF FALLING APART.
Another inspiration was the relationship between different strands of family, and how one solitary act can change how generations interact with each other for years to come. I’ve always been incredibly close to my grandparents, and I’ve never thought of them as ‘old people’. My American grandparents used to go to burlesque shows in Philadelphia, my English grandparents went to the Windmill in Soho (back when it was proper and not a Eurotrashy strip-club), and whatever I’ve got up to, I know my grandparents would have done similar.
In this novel I really wanted to explore the private lives of parents and grandparents that children never get to normally see. I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve known my grandparents so well, and my relationship with them – and especially with my English grandparents – not just inspired me to write this book, but it encouraged me to write a novel they’d be proud of. My grandfather is reading the book right now, and despite all the fantastic reviews it’s had pre-publication, nothing will ever top him telling me that he can’t put it down – that means the world to me, because family is what the novel is all about.
The Glittering Art of Falling Apart by Ilana Fox
Published by Orion
Published on 11.2.2016
Genres: women's fiction
Buy on amazon.co.uk or Buy on amazon.com
1980s Soho is electric. For Eliza, the heady pull of its nightclubs and free-spirited people leads her into the life she has craved - all glamour, late nights and excitement. But it comes at a heavy cost.
Cassie is fascinated by her family's history and the abandoned Beaufont Hall. Why won't her mother talk about it? Offered the chance to restore Beaufont to its former glory, Cassie jumps at the opportunity to learn more about her past.
Separated by a generation, but linked by a forgotten diary, these two women have more in common than they know . . .