Posted by Literary Titan
‘Silk: Caroline’s Story’ follows three women as they look for love, for themselves, and navigate the drastically changing culture of the south, some doing whatever it takes to get what they want. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
My own family tree! I’ve been obsessed with genealogy since I was a girl, and there are some unclear, unexplained branches that I’m fairly sure I’ll never discover the absolute truth about. Why did Caroline choose to marry whom she did? What happened to her? Many of the main characters are based loosely on real people, but I’ve changed names as it’s so fictionalized. Silk is a dramatic re-interpretation of my own family’s obscured past, in which Jessie was likely not so evil at all.
What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Hmm… I generally shy away from spelling them out, but you seem to have already gathered that my novels are rife with morals, if only because it’s simply how I think. Silk is flat, Lowcountry terrain compared with the mountains that exist of all my soapboxes!
Perhaps the most pervasive moral in the book, however, is one nearly universal for novelists: that it’s important to try to understand where others are coming from, to develop empathy—even for those with bats in their belfry, as Anne would say. That moral is not so much taught as experienced with all the head-hopping—and studies have shown that fiction readers do become more empathetic.
Honesty and fidelity, the value of friendships, the dangers of alcohol and extremism—these are other moral themes in Silk. I’m afraid, however, that many of the moral analogies I personally draw to today’s society are bound to be missed by readers. For instance, readers sometimes express their disdain for brothels and their understandable relief that brothels aren’t still widespread in America today. Rampant pornography is, however, now far more available than brothels ever were, is damaging to psyches and relationships, and objectifies people entirely.
Gracious, for all that I was hesitant to jump on an invitational soapbox, I’ve gotten started now! Countless moral ideas guided my writing of The Silk Trilogy—even if they barely brush the surface and are hardly mentioned. For example, broad-brimmed hats and parasols protect from the sun, which my characters do actively consider; this might not sound like a moral issue and certainly isn’t presented as such in the novel but, in fact, folks do need to protect themselves from skin cancer—I’ve personally had melanoma—yet most sunscreens are endocrine disruptors, even carcinogens themselves, while also damaging coral reefs. So as you can see, I can only relate a fraction of what’s relevant, just hoping to plant little seeds.
Other moral elements are briefly shared when Dr. Connor goes on about his dilemmas in practicing medicine—how to choose the safest, most effective therapies; being aware of the marketing ploys of pharmaceutical companies; issues with not being able to follow up with patients, etc.
One of my most heartfelt morals was difficult to flesh out satisfactorily, so to speak. I’m a vegetarian, quite against factory farming, so the meals feature casseroles, biscuits, cobblers, butterbeans, collard greens, pickles, etc. Reluctantly, I also include dishes like turtle soup and crabcakes, hoping to muster a traditional Southern table while not sending people salivating to their kitchens, inspired to throw on a pan of fried chicken. Jessie does eat barbeque in the first chapter, however, which helps set a Southern tone. Sigh… I tried, but I doubt that Silk helped my animal-rights mission one iota, except maybe through Caroline’s love for Julep.
I will say, however, that an overarching purpose/moral of the novel was to conjure up a fairly authentic Southern historic setting to help readers relate to Southerners a bit more. I’m thoroughly convinced that Southerners are one of the most maligned groups these days—so often parodied as ignorant, selfish, racist, bigoted, etc. Frankly, it’s now trendy to disparage Southerners, so I’m doing what I can with The Silk Trilogy to balk against that ugly bias.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
One theme is dealing with women’s issues—how to exist as a woman in society, the joys and difficulties of motherhood and/or of having a career, clarifying and validating how difficult our choices can sometimes be.
Another theme is how extreme thoughts, fixations, and desperation can distort facts and lead to unspeakable acts, acts that perpetrators justify and too often entirely get away with.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Homespun, the last installment of the Silk Trilogy, is due to come out next St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 2023. It centers on Caroline’s granddaughter, Ginny. Jessie’s still as deadly as ever, but her energies are channeled in a surprising new direction.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
Silk: Caroline’s Story is the first installment in a trilogy set in post-Reconstruction South Carolina. This first novel centers on Caroline Corbett, a sanguine southern belle. At the story’s beginning, Caroline suffers from a lack of romantic success. So, at her uncle’s request, she moves to his plantation. She had dual purposes: to work in a clothing factory and find herself an acceptable husband. Shortly, she meets two handsome men, Dr. Stephen Conner and Clayton Bell. Quickly, Caroline is swept up in romances with both men. Dr. Conner is handsome and well-off, while Clayton Bell is a sharecropper, followed by his lovesick little cousin, Jessie.
From the opening pages, author Sophia Alexander takes readers back in time to experience what life is like for women as society is just beginning to accept them as more than homemakers. There is a romance story in this exceptional novel. However, the portrayal of how different life was for women drew me in and kept me. Jessie is a young girl in this story and clings to the old ways, wanting a simple life with the man she has decided is the only one for her. A time when marrying your cousin was not considered strange or inappropriate. Caroline is a dreamer, full of passion and the desire to be different from the elderly women in her life, wanting more than just a suitable husband for her future.
Sophia’s character development as the two leading women is what gives this novel its life. Readers will feel as if they know Jessie and Caroline intimately, though, with Jessie, they may also be afraid of her. Her twisted and dark reasoning to achieve the things she feels she deserves in life is genuinely terrifying at times. It is as much a psychological thriller as a historical romance following these characters.
Dr. Conner and Clayton Bell are prime examples of the class differences in the Carolinas. Both bring something different to the story, and readers will be torn between who is the favorite and who should end up with Caroline. It is a whirlwind following the three of them and watching Jessie maneuvering in the background to make things go as she wants.
The novel’s pacing keeps readers engaged. There is never a dull moment in the plot. The descriptions are vivid, and you feel like you are there in the old south, experiencing the changes in the society as they happen.
Silk: Caroline’s Story is an emotionally charged historical romance that gives readers a complex love story from multiple points of view and a riveting plot that takes this novel beyond the genre of romance.
Pages: 362 | ASIN: B095CVP3G7
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Posted by Literary_Titan
Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel, written by Sophia Alexander, is the second book in her Silk Trilogy series. However, this book stands on its own and will captivate readers from the opening pages.
Gaynelle and Vivian are two sisters being raised by their stepmom, Jessie. They live on a family farm in rural South Carolina, sheltered from most of modern society. There is fear of men being drafted into fighting in World War I and the Spanish flu taking loved ones away. Vivian is often sick, and Jessie thrives on doting on her as if she were her own blood. Meanwhile, Jessie hates everything about Gaynelle. In her eyes, Gaynelle embodies everything from her husband’s first wife that she hated.
When Vivian is sent away to recover from her mysterious illness, Gaynelle struggles at home alone. Gaynelle wants to make friends and doesn’t understand why she can not be friends with the Black family next door. She falls in love with a summer farmhand working with her father only to end up pregnant, turning her already dysfunctional family even more on end.
This astonishing novel grabs readers in the first chapter and takes them on a journey that makes it impossible to put the book down. The characters are well developed. Even the minor characters stand out for their parts in this novel. The characters are my favorite part of this novel. Jessie, the evil stepmom, is crazy and will do anything to achieve the dream she has imagined in her head. As the story progresses, her nefarious personality comes out slowly, but the actual depth of her devious plot unfolds shockingly.
Gaynelle is an innocent character many can relate to, wanting the fairytale love. Believing her true love could rescue her from her situation if only he knew what was happening. She is a sweet character that readers will want to see bloom into a strong woman. Her older sister Vivian takes her under her wing when she moves into the town. Vivian thrives in town, picking up the latest in fashion and politics. The emergence of women’s rights plays a vital part in Vivan’s personality.
This engaging novel takes readers into the mind of two young women coming of age in the 1920s and realizing they have more potential than just being farmwives. It also takes readers into the twisted mind of a woman that will stop at nothing to take what she believes she is owed in life. The multiple viewpoints in the narration allow readers to get to know the characters through their own minds and those around them.
Tapestry: A Lowcountry Rapunzel is a dramatic coming of age and family saga novel exploring the 1920’s women rights movement through the eyes of two young women and the romance of unrequited love. This novel will entertain readers with captivating dialog and the mystery of what other secrets this family hold.
Pages: 226 | ASIN : B095DYHDDJ
Posted in Book Reviews
Tags: A Life’s Tapestry, A Lowcountry Rapunzel, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, family saga, fiction, goodreads, historical fiction, kindle, kobo, literary fiction, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, Sophia Alexander, story, writer, writing