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My latest blog posts

On losing books, rediscovering them, and treasuring them

Recently, the British media reported the story of a lady who discovered a book she had owned in her childhood for sale in the shop of the Museum of English Rural Life. She recognised The Secret Garden Ladybird Children’s Classics as hers by the hieroglyphics penned on the inside cover – a secret code she and her sister had devised.

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Capturing music in words

Music is at the heart of my latest novel, Concerto. The heroine is an opera singer and the hero is a pianist composer. The novel draws on the rich heritage of classical and operatic music, particularly with relation to Italy, where much of the story is set.

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Concerto by Hannah Fielding

Favourite reviews of my novels

It has been seven years since I published my debut novel, Burning Embers, and even now I can remember how nerve-racking it was to contact some book bloggers and ask whether they may like to review the novel. Would they enjoy the book? I very much hoped so.

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Lovers with a history: healing from past mistakes in Concerto

Concerto, my most recent novel, tells the love story between music therapist and single mother Catriona and blind pianist Umberto. Umberto has not handled losing his sight well and has sunk into a depression, no longer able to compose and play as he once did so well. Catriona is hired to stay at Umberto’s Lake Como villa and work with him, and as she does so, attraction stirs between the two.

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A place with music of its own: Villefranche

The story in my novel Concerto begins in a place I know well: Nice, in the French Riviera, a little way along from my summer home. The hero of the novel, Umberto, is Italian, and so it makes sense that he spends time in this part of France, so close to the French–Italian border.

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Taking inspiration from the music of nature

When I am staying at my home in France, I love to take long walks by the sea and hear the rhythmic sound of the water lapping, or sometimes crashing, on the sand. I sit in my garden and listen to the chorus of the cicadas and the drone of the bees attracted to my lavender. In Ireland, I go for walks in the woodland near my home, to the sound of the leaves stirred by the breeze and the birds singing high up in the trees and the merry tinkling of a little stream.

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Taking inspiration from a muse

In Ancient Greek mythology, there were nine goddesses for the arts and sciences: Calliope for epic poetry, Clio for history, Erato for love poetry, Euterpe for music and songs and lyric poetry, Melpomene for tragedy, Polyhymnia for hymns, Terpsichore for dance, Thalia for comedy and Urania for astronomy. These muses, as they were known, inspired mortals in their creations.

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Favourite romantic artworks

One of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon is to visit an art gallery. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the biggest art galleries and museums in the world, like the Louvre in Paris and the Tate galleries in London, but I love to visit small galleries too; one of my favourites is the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice, near my home in France, which has a beautiful Rodin sculpture.

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Print books favoured over ebooks

On Monday, I posted an article celebrating eight years of blogging here. Over those years, I have revisited certain themes in my articles, and one of those is the ‘print versus ebook’ debate.

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The magnificent villas of Lake Como

When I decided upon Italy as the setting for my new novel, Concerto, I knew at once where I would set the story: beautiful, timeless Lake Como. More specifically, I knew the story would unfold in a villa, since the area is famous for these grand, belle époque residences with magnificent gardens of rare trees, exotic flowers and broad lawns, and narrow pink or mellow yellow stone staircases leading down to the edge of the lake.

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The enduring idea of soulmates

‘[H]e’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.’ So said Cathy of Heathcliff in Emily Brontë’s classic novel Wuthering Heights.

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Healing with music: The Mozart effect

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was, without doubt, one of the greatest composers to have ever lived. In his short life he composed more than 600 works, many of which continue to be performed by musicians today. His music is popular the world over, and in the most recent poll for Classic FM’s Hall of Fame (2019), three of his pieces featured in the top-twenty list. Here is his most popular work on the list, the Clarinet Concerto in A Major.

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The view from the water: setting the scene in my romance novels

My home in the south of France overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, and for a few days each summer, to quote William Wordsworth, ‘With ships the sea [is] sprinkled far and nigh’. The event is called Les Voiles de St Tropez, and it is a sailing regatta that takes place in the gulf of St Tropez (you can learn more about it in my article ‘The romance – and sensuality – of sailing’). I love to sit on my terrace and watch the white sails moving across the ocean, like a kaleidoscope of white butterflies in the bluest of skies.

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On writing ‘drunk’ and editing sober

There is a very simple reason I am a writer: I love writing. I love the experience of taking ideas in my imagination and realising them on the page; I love the sense of magic that unfolds as the muse guides the pen; I love to be immersed in a fictional world and to create.

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The innocent heroine in love

At the start of my latest novel Concerto, the heroine, Catriona, is balancing on the line between girl and woman. She is eighteen, and in some ways she has an adult perspective. For example, she has been career-minded for some time.

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On sudden inspiration, and ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’

‘Inspiration strikes’ is a common term, and as a writer, I understand why. Once you let writing into your life, your imagination is always active, always open, and sometimes out of nowhere an idea comes to you, like a bolt from the blue. Invariably, this happens when you are doing something completely unrelated to writing – cooking, bathing, walking.

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A man in the shadows: Light and darkness in Concerto

Umberto, hero of my new novel Concerto, is a man who is comfortable in the spotlight. He has grown up the son of a celebrated opera diva, and has honed his own musical talent to become a pianist composer, a rising star in the world of classical music. When my heroine, Catriona, goes to see Umberto perform in concert at the Nice opera house, she is absolutely mesmerised by his playing – and by the charismatic man himself:

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Making books accessible with ebook versions

When I wrote my first novel, Burning Embers, there was no such thing as an ebook. My dream was simply to see the book in print; to hold the novel in my hands. By the time I came to publish Burning Embers, however, the digital revolution was in full swing. My publisher informed me that the novel would be simultaneously published in print and ebook formats.

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Books as treasure: valuable first editions

‘I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.’ So wrote Virginia Woolf, and how right she was, in more ways than one. Of course, libraries are full of amazing books to inform and entertain and inspire – but they can also contain treasures of real monetary value.

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Originality in writing: an impossible ideal?

Back in Shakespeare’s day, a writer was expected to copy a classical work; ‘unnecessary invention’ was frowned upon. According to Jack Lynch, in his article ‘The Perfectly Acceptable Practice of Literary Theft: Plagiarism, Copyright, and the Eighteenth Century’, it was only in the 18th century that originality became an ideal. But is this an impossible ideal?

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On writing strong, independent heroines

Do you remember the first time you experienced Romeo and Juliet? For me, it was in my early teens, sitting in the audience of a playhouse and watching actors interpret Shakespeare’s classic lines. I found the romance between Romeo and Juliet so beautiful, especially the balcony scene.

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My latest blog posts

The serendipitous book discovery

‘Finding a book that speaks to you feels like finding treasure. There’s a magic to it – a spark of energy when you realise the book in your hand is one you’re going to read…’

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The perils of fairy-tale romance

‘As a child, I longed for the world to be only sunshine and rainbows and happy-ever-afters. As an adult, I understand that real romance is multi-faceted, and there is a danger in indulging in fantasy…’

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Bibliotherapy: books to heal the soul

‘Studies have shown that bibliotherapy is especially powerful for alleviating anxiety and depression, which makes reading so important for us all right now as we are trapped in a bubble of worry, fear and isolation. Reading is an act of self-love; it is a way to make yourself feel better…’

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8 reasons to read a romance novel today

‘The best romances offer an opportunity for readers to learn about something new, such as an interesting occupation or a place. In my own romances, I take readers to fascinating locations around the world, like Lake Como and Venice and Cadiz, so that my books are like a passport to travel from the comfort of your own home…’

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Duende: the artistic flamenco spirit

Have you heard of the term duende? The Oxford English Dictionary defines duende as ‘a quality of passion and inspiration’. The word is used to describe a state of heightened emotion, authenticity and expression, and it is commonly associated with flamenco. The soul in the singer’s cry, the feeling etched into the dancer’s face, the power in the guitarist’s playing – that is duende.

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Pannettone: a festive taste of Italy

The weeks leading up to Christmas find me baking up a storm in the kitchen, everything from Christmas cake and steamed figgy pudding to mince pies and gingerbread – and panettone; I love panettone.

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My latest blog posts

10 things I love about Andalusia

‘En la sangre hierve España sin fuego. (In Spain blood boils without fire.) This proverb says it all: Spanish is a land of deep passions, the perfect setting for fiery, dramatic romance…’

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Perfectly imperfect art

Recently, a memoir caught my eye. Published in February this year, Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chicceh Hindman is an account of her time playing the violin with a professional ensemble in New York City. Only she didn’t actually get to play the violin – none of the members of the

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Poems to lift a lonely heart

‘Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.’ So wrote French novelist Honoré de Balzac. For me, this quotation perfectly encapsulates the difficulty of our time in lockdown. We may appreciate the simpler, quieter life, but at the same time we ache to share the time with

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Healing through music: the power of music therapy

In my novel Concerto, the heroine, Catriona, is a music therapist who is hired to work with a client who is depressed. Umberto was once a celebrated pianist composer, but since he lost his sight he has turned his back on the music that is his great passion. Once, Catriona

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