Sunday, April 24, 2011

2011 - The 95th Anniversary of the 1916 Uprising in Ireland

All Irish stories are happy and all their songs are sad.  The long, convoluted history of Ireland, although attempted by a number of outstanding writers, is rarely understood by most Americans, even those of Irish descent. Labeled a religious battle by some, an economic one by others, the plight of the Irish and their ability to withstand isolation, plague, starvation and systematic extermination by English landlords is as complicated to understand as the writing style of James Joyce. 
IRISH LADY is the story of one small piece of Ireland's 800 year old struggle for freedom, primarily the time period ending with the Flight of the Earls when the Catholic aristocracy, led by Red Hugh O'Neill, lost the Battle of Kinsale and retreated to Spain leaving the peasant population to the mercy of the colonizing English. 
I'm delighted that my fictional story of the Earl's daughter, Nuala, and her descendant, Meghann McCarthy, will be reissued in 2012.
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly wonderful!
This review is from Amazon: Irish Lady (Mass Market Paperback)
After reading IRISH LADY in one sitting, I sat down and read it again. This beautifully crafted work is much too special to be thought of as simply another romance novel. This story of Meghann, who escapes from her Belfast past to become a successful London attorney, and Michael, a former IRA soldier is both intense and ethereal. Both Meghann and Michael must come to terms with the past while securing their future together. Through the wisdom of Nuala O'Donnell, a 16th c. ancestor, Meghann reconciles herself to her heritage, her convictions, and her heart.If you are unfamiliar with Irish nationalism, one read of this book will well acquaint you with it. You'll finally understand what Bono was saying when U2 recorded "Sunday, Bloody Sunday". Though Ms. Baker does take liberties with the history of the 16th c. (which she admits in her notes), her insight into modern Irish nationalist politics is right on target.
IRISH LADY is a truly wonderful book with realistic and vivid characters, a smart plot, and crisp writing. This is a keeper.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Lure of the “Good Witch”

Why, people ask, would a woman who lives part of the year in the southwest corner of Ireland, an author who created successful Irish/Scottish time travels, among them NELL,  IRISH LADY, CATRIONA and LEGACY, write a novel set in, of all places, Salem Massachusetts?  Isn’t the British Isles a safer venue for a book’s success? Does America really have a serious history? 

The answer to the original question is the same as the one I give to those who wonder why I explore the possibilities of DNA memory and time travel or why I create left-handed characters with interesting mutations and clairvoyant heroines who dabble in white witchcraft.  The unusual fascinates me. It has since that September 17, 1964 evening when beautiful, blonde Samantha Stephens twitched her turned-up nose, hooking me forever. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, to have the power to sway the mortal universe to my way of thinking? I remember rolling my pre-teen eyes at the doddering predictability of Samantha’s husband, Darrin who, with typical mortal myopia, wanted an ordinary wife. I empathized with Endora, her mother, over the stupidity of mortals and cheered when Aunt Clara’s magic actually worked.

Years later, during post midnight feedings, I introduced my infant children to the magic of Samantha’s spirit world, occasionally twitching my own nose in credible imitation, hoping that my colicky, wide-awake infant would magically fall asleep. Sadly, the gift of magic continued to elude me until I first put pen to paper and realized I could create my own bewitching heroines, endowing them with all the characteristics I longed to claim as my own. The latest, of course, is WITCH WOMAN’s, Maggie McBride, a child sent forth 400 years to escape the horror of Salem’s witch trials.

Slain abwale,

Witch Woman – available on Kindle and eBook formats
Legacy – available in bookstores and on Amazon

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LEGACY by Jeanette Baker


LEGACY is on the shelf of your local bookstore. It may be ordered from Amazon in Print or e-Book format. Read on for reviews.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Tantalizing...Ms. Baker kept me intrigued and enthralled...a thought-provoking novel not to be missed."

The last of the Murrays...
Christina Murray is elated to inherit her family's ancestral home in Scotland. But upon her arrival she is confronted by her breathtakingly handsome new neighbor, Ian Douglas...and an ancient family curse that comes with the castle.

A violent legacy of passion...

Seduced by Ian's easy Scottish charm by day, Christina dreams at night of three raven-haired beauties, ancestors who fell victim to the curse one generation after another: Katrine, the fiery Jacobite supporter who lost her heart to an Englishman; Jeanne, an accused witch; and Mairi, who shared a forbidden passion with the King of England.
Now it's Christina's turn to lie in that cursed bed... and loving Ian might just cost her life.

What Readers Say:

"One of the most fascinating books I've ever read...Kept me up until 3 am!"

"I'm delighted with Ms. Baker's style. It isn't often you find an author so adept at storytelling who also has a unique and beautiful command of the English language."

About the Author

Award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the RITA Award winning Nell, Jeanette Baker has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as a forceful writer whose novels are "irresistible reading." Jeanette lives in California during the winter months where she teaches literature and writing, and in County Kerry, Ireland during the summer.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Irish Witch Trials

Text only version Make this my homepage

5.0 out of 5 stars A winner, a keeper & a thoroughly satisfying read, April 28, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Catriona (Mass Market Paperback)
California lawyer Kate Sutherland travels from the west coast to Salem, Massachusetts to help Celia Ward with her tax difficulties. After having Kate remove her contact lens, Celia probes into Kate's eyes and informs the attorney that all the answers to her deepest questions about her cryptic youth including her birthplace can be found on an island off of the Scottish coast. Needing to understand more about her roots, Kate goes to the Shetland Islands off of Scotland to meet Maura Sutherland, a high priestess of an ancient religion still practiced on the islands. ....... Almost from the first moment she steps onto her native soil, Kate sees visions of herself dressed in clothing that is five centuries old. She turns to local historian Niall McCormack for help in comprehending what she "sees". He tells her that she is envisioning Catriona Wells, the first Countess of Bothwell, who was trapped by the late fifteenth century royal conflict between England and Scotland. Her tragic life haunts Kate. Kate must somehow fix the past to share a loving future with Niall, the individual she now loves. ....... 

Jeanette Baker moves to the head of the historical romance class with CATRIONA, an absolutely stunning and unique mixing of several genres (supernatural, historical, and contemporary romances) into a great novel that will delight fans from all three genres. The characters from both sides of the Atlantic and from both centuries are first rate, well described, and humanized, turning a brilliant story line into one of the top novels of the year to date. .......Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Irish Wit

Gone are the days when ten and twelve children per family was typical of an Irish household. Somewhere around the early 70’s when television became standard, incomes and education rose and birth control, even in Catholic Ireland, became accessible, family sizes shrank. Compared with America’s 2.3 births per family, the Irish weigh in at 2.1, nowhere near the number seen 40 years ago, but still the highest in Europe. What I find even more interesting is the age, 31, at which Irish women give birth for the first time compared with America’s 25. The times they are a-changing.

What does this mean for Irish fiction? Unless an author is writing about experiences taking place before the 70’s, it means that cultural differences are much more subtle. With the exception of terminology (footpaths not sidewalks and car parks not parking lots) no garbage disposals or window screens, very little ice in your drinks and relatively few air-conditioned buildings, the creation of a contemporary Irish novel cannot ignore expensive cars, manicured toenails, designer clothing, fine dining, gracious homes, no smoking in the pubs and the breath-stealing cost of a haircut and color. What is left, you might ask if the cottage with its peat fire, the pint all around, tweed-capped men riding bicycles and the warm invitation of a pot of tea complete with scones has been relegated to the same compost pile as yesterday’s cabbage?

While I haven’t seen a tweed cap on a man under the age of 50 in a long time, except in America's swing-dance scenarios, there is still much to write about if your story is set in the Emerald Isle. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in all of Europe compares with the beautiful green and gold patchwork of the Irish countryside, the willingness of her people to engage in conversation, or the mind-boggling realization that the town where you stop for your tea and pastry dates back to the 12th century.

What I look for in a novel with an Irish setting is something that cannot be generated by research across the water in America or on the Internet. Somehow, back in the annals of time, the Irish people developed minds so witty, so rapid in response, so able to twist language to their advantage, the words so powerful and perfect in their innuendo, this ability so singularly cultural that it simply must be ingrained in their DNA memory.

Those not native born are left with eyes wide and mouths agape unable to compete and sometimes even engage. There is nothing left if we want to capture this phenomenon but to develop a good memory, keep a tape recorder in our  bags or plan a lengthy visit, not too bad an idea. There is, after all, that pot of tea complete with homemade scones.