Reading at the Madison CT Historical Society, 2014
THE WRITING MASTER
paperback and ebook
MORE PRAISE FOR THE WRITING MASTER
"I tore through THE WRITING MASTER in one night.
It's a murder mystery, a father-daughter story,
and a detailed slice of
19th-century New England history. Lovely!"
~ Susan Cheever, author of Louisa May Alcott and American Bloomsbury
“I don’t have enough superlatives to describe my delight with THE WRITING MASTER. I loved every moment I spent in the 19th-century world of Florey’s endearing and complicated characters. I loved their heartbreaking plights, their sparkling dialogue, their fully realized setting, their unexpected destinations.
I will read it again while I wait for a sequel.”
~Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys
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 both an e-book and a paperback, published by White River Press. Karen Kleinerman, one of my most talented friends -- and that's saying a lot -- designed the fabulous covers for both formats.
"[A] witty and readable (and fetchingly illustrated and glossed) excursion [that] covers a lot of ground."
~ Cullen Murphy in the Wall Street Journal
For all you handwriting defenders out there: A link to my interview on Wisconsin Public Radio's terrific program "To the Best of Our Knowledge," with Jim Fleming.
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Note: I was pleased that, in the movie DOUBT, not only was there an accurate sentence diagram on the blackboard in one scene, but Meryl Streep in her role as Sister Aloysius came out against ballpoint pens (see Script and Scribble, p. 17) and uttered the immortal line "Penmanship is dying across the country." So true, Sister....
Now available as an e-book