May 2013 ~ now available in an elegant paperback edition!
Now available at our two great local bookstores: Amherst Books on the Green and the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley -- and from all the usual online sources
The Writing Master is set in 1856 in New Haven, Connecticut, a city I lived in for much of my adult life. The book was inspired by the writing of my second work of nonfiction, Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. In the course of the research, I became fascinated by the importance of handwriting -- now so sadly devalued -- in earlier days, when a fast, legible script was indispensable for a gentleman, and the gloriously embellished script of a master of the art was held in deep respect.
My novel is about a summer in the life of a writing master, a man who earned his living producing letters and documents for people who could not write (or, often, read). During long walks around downtown New Haven, and on many afternoons at the New Haven Historical Society, I imagined Charles Cooper and built a world around him - his sad past, his hopeful present. The plot includes a very Sherlockian murder investigation, a mysterious woman with her own tragic story, a visit to a Connecticut madhouse, and much more -- truly a “contemporary Victorian novel”
In my spare moments, I plot a sequel, thirty years onward, set in Amherst, Mass., where I now live. I don't have many spare moments, so I don't know if a middle-aged Charles will ever see the light, but he’s a lovable character, and I remain intrigued by him -- and hope you will too.
The novel is now available as an e-book and a paperback, published by White River Press. (The fabulous cover design is by friend Karen Kleinerman, one of my most talented friends -- and that's saying a lot.) You can find a copy in either format on Amazon, B&N, etc., or pick up the paperback at an actual bookstore, or order an autographed copy directly from me -- just send me an email. The book's price is $20, and postage is included.
Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting will also be coming out in paperback in Fall 2013, published again by Melville House. Details coming, as well as a look at the newly designed cover.
Meanwhile, here's a link to an interview I did in February for Wisconsin Public Radio's terrific program "To the Best of Our Knowledge," with Jim Fleming.
"[A] witty and readable (and fetchingly illustrated and glossed) excursion [that] covers a lot of ground."
~ Cullen Murphy in the Wall Street Journal
Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog
with a new Afterword about the famous Sister Bernadette herself
"Best Book of 2006!" -- Slate magazine
"This gem from copy editor Florey is a bracing ode to grammar; it's laced with a survivor's nostalgia for classrooms ruled by knuckle-cracking nuns who knew their participles." ~ People magazine