Please give a warm welcome to author, Hannah Fielding!
For the love of legends
For me, researching a book is just as enjoyable as writing it. I set each of my novels in a passionate, romantic country, and so that I can really transport my readers there, I immerse myself in the setting: its history, its scenery, its cuisine, its culture. Top of my research list are local legends – I love colourful, age-old stories; the more fantastical, the better!
Since I was a young girl, tucked up in bed and listening avidly to my governess weaving bedtime tales, I have loved legends. Fairytales too, of course – they sowed the seeds for my romantic nature – but legends fascinated me most: those that have stood the test of time, that offer intriguing explanations for the modern world, that are at once fantastical and yet, somehow, believable.
My novel The Echoes of Love, set in Venice, Tuscany and Sardinia, incorporates various Italian legends – told by the hero, Paolo, who is a raconteur extraordinaire, to my heroine, Venetia – and in my research files I collected many more. What better way to share some of these most romantic, magical and atmospheric tales but in this Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour!
Today, I’m taking you to Venice, city of mystery and magic and fairytale…
The Three Crones
In 1954 Italian journalist Italo Calvino was commissioned to write a collection of Italian fairytales as an Italian equivalent of those of the Brothers Grimm. One of the tales he collected was ‘The Three Crones’, set in Venice (also popularly known as ‘The King Who Wanted a Beautiful Wife’). Here is a version of the story:
A king was lonely, and he sought a wife. Of course, his queen must be perfect: gentle, kind, loyal and beautiful. But no woman he met could come up to his high standards. And so still the king was lonely. Finally, he could bear the fruitless hunt no longer, and he sent a servant whom he trusted greatly to continue his quest.
The servant did so, and one day he came across a cottage outside of which sat three women. Their features were shrouded by their cloaks, but their hands were white and soft. Surely women with such hands were beauties! He returned to tell the king of his find, and the king summoned the women to his court.
The women came. They remained shrouded, for they had seen no ray of sun in their lives, and they feared the light would hurt them. The king – the foolish king – believed them in this, and he determined to marry the oldest.
Come the wedding night, the king was much looking forward to laying eyes for the first time upon his lovely bride. But alas! This was no twenty-year-old beauty, as promised; this was an old crone – wizened, ugly. In disgust, the king threw his bride out of the window.
But the crone did not die – her wedding dress caught on a protrusion and she hung there, stuck. Along came four fairies with the spirits of imps. Hearing her tale, they weaved a spell to make the hag young, beautiful, wise and kind.
The next morning, when the king awoke he heard his wife calling from outside. When he saw the change in her, he was astounded. He must have been mistaken, he thought. Perhaps he drank too much at the wedding banquet! He had his new queen rescued at once.
Time passed, and the king and queen settled into a happy life together. The king was no longer lonely, and the queen was no longer stuck living with her witchy sisters. But could said sisters leave her to her happiness? Of course not! They appeared at the castle and demanded to know how she had wrought her transformation. ‘I had myself skinned,’ explained the queen calmly. ‘This is what lay beneath my awful exterior.’
In a state of excitement off her sisters trotted to be skinned. But beneath their skins lay nothing of worth. Theirs was an unhappy end. But for the king and queen, life was just beautiful.
Some sobering morals on beauty here (and on believing too easily what you are told). I like to think that the crone who became a queen was a good sort to begin with, because otherwise it seems quite unfair that she is so rewarded with a transformation. Or perhaps the point is that the king, who valued only beauty in a partner (and threw his ugly wife out of the window!), should be punished by so marrying a crone. For surely she remains that at heart, given the way she unfeelingly sends her sisters to their most grisly doom!
by Hannah Fielding
Ebook/Paperback, 360 pages
Published December 6th 2013 by London Wall Publishing
Seduction, passion and the chance for new love. A terrible truth that will change two lives forever.Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Italy’s most captivating city to work in her godmother’s architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone.Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can’t help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them.When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia must not only contend with a beautiful young rival, but also come face to face with the dark shadows of Paolo’s past that threaten to come between them.Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo’s carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?
Hannah Fielding bio
Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Her first novel, Burning Embers, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. Her new novel, The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany. It was picked by The Sun newspaper as one of the most romantic books ever written.
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At least one reader commenting on this post will WIN in the Very Venetian giveaway, with prizes totalling more than $600:
• 5 signed hardback copies of The Echoes of Love
• 10 signed paperback copies of The Echoes of Love
• 3 romantic Venetian masks
• Lots of fabulously colourful Murano glass goodies: 16 pendants, 2 bracelets, 2 paperweights and a vase
Anyone who comments on a blog tour stop post will be entered in the giveaway. Simply comment below, including your email address so that Hannah can contact the winners. Good luck!
Wow that is a big giveaway, Thanks for the book. Deb PReplyDelete
Such an AWESOME giveaway!! <3ReplyDelete
I would LOVE to read this one!! Thanks for the chance :)
Sounds like an amazing book. thank you. firstname.lastname@example.orgReplyDelete
Love it!! :) email@example.comReplyDelete
I went to Venice once and want to return for a new look. It has an amazing feel to it. Thanks for the chance to win something and I am adding your book to my list. Love the cover.ReplyDelete
debby236 at gmail dot com
Such a stunning cover. I'm going to love this.ReplyDelete
Amazing cover and intriguing blurb. Thanks for sharing today. :-)ReplyDelete