Published by Black and White Publishing
Ebook and Paperback : 4 July 2017
It really is a delight to be taking part in the publisher blog tour for this lovely book. I had already bought Ann’s two previous books and they have been waiting on my Kindle for some time. After enjoying the Ludlow Ladies’ so much, I now really want to bump them up the reading pile. For my turn today, I have both a guest post from the author along with my review at the end.
My road to publication
by Ann O’Loughlin
There is one thing for certain for most writers, the road to publication is a long, winding and often lonely road. My journey on that road was no different.
Now, as my third book The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is stacked on book shelves across the country, I sometimes pinch myself to make sure it is all for real. With two bestsellers under my belt and my books translated in to several languages, it has all been a wonderful whirlwind which may never have happened but for a good sprinkling of luck. When I finished writing my first book The Ballroom Café, I thought it would take some time, but I never knew it would take such a long time to publication.
My first battle was to find the right agent for my work. I had nearly given up, was fed up of sending out submission after submission, when Lady Luck finally smiled down on me. I was nearly at the last throw of the dice, when I decided to get a submission ready and send it to Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates, Edinburgh, Scotland. Everything I read about this dynamic agent, I liked. What I had not noticed until I had the email submission ready to send was Jenny Brown’s list was closed to submissions. I wavered, unsure what to do, but decided what had I to lose. Thankfully for me, I had a whole lot to gain.
This is where Lady Luck stepped in.
Jenny Brown was returning to Edinburgh by train from a crime festival. Her laptop had not charged the night before and she was stuck with only her phone for company. Scanning through her emails, in popped mine. With time on her hands, Jenny began to read the first three chapters of The Ballroom Café.
It was not long after that she rang me requesting the full manuscript. Straight away I sent over the completed manuscript. Jenny was back within a day suggesting changes and edits. I dived in to those edits and with that came the offer of representation. I was lucky, I had taken a chance on sending the submission and Lady Luck ensured that Jenny Brown noticed it. It was the start of a great author agent relationship and a friendship which now sees us celebrating my third book, The Ludlow Ladies’ Society, make its way out in to the world.
But I am rushing on. Back to that debut novel The Ballroom Café. With Jenny’s help, Black and White Publishing came on board. The Ballroom Café by the time it was published in paperback was already a kindle bestseller and has now been published in Germany, the US, Italy, Norway with other countries set to publish in the coming year. My second book The Judge’s Wife was in the Irish bestseller charts for seven weeks and has also been translated and will be published in the US, Germany, Norway and Italy next year.
Lady Luck smiled own on me that day all those years ago. Since then it has been a whirlwind of writing, editing, publishing, translations and book events, all the time with my agent Jenny Brown by my side. I feel very lucky indeed as The Ludlow Ladies’ Society wings its way out in to the world.
| About the Book |
Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.
At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.
The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is a story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.
| My Review |
American Connie Carter is the new owner of the repossessed and boarded-up Ludlow Hall, not through choice but by way of inheritance. Life has not been kind to her at all and in trying to find a way to deal with her pain she moves from America to Rosdaniel in Ireland intending to live in Ludlow Hall, a property bought by her husband and which she knew nothing about. Preferring to be alone with her memories she initially shuns company and tries to avoid the gossips but her private and sometimes aloof manner doesn’t go down well with some of the locals and it is down to some of the Ludlow ladies to hold out the hand of friendship.
The Ladies Society are a diverse group of women – the rather bossy and forceful Chair Kathryn tries to keep them in line – some of her emails are hilarious and provide a great source of humour. Widow Eve Brannigan, (known by some as ‘Mrs Ludlow’ as the former chatelaine of Ludlow Hall) has also had a poor hand dealt to her but despite this she can find the capacity for much empathy and compassion for others. Eve was one of my favourite characters and I was longing for her to find some happiness. Her button box resonated with me. My late grandmother used to have a tin full of buttons which I remember playing with as a child (and which I still have). Hetty, who runs the local guesthouse is another of the women whose public and private lives were very different. Eve and Hetty do their best to befriend Connie and try to get her to start living again, rather than just existing.
It is whilst the ladies are making memory quilts for an exhibition to be attended by Michelle Obama that the full extent of their history and secrets are revealed. Each square of material on the quilts has come from fabric or clothing that has a special meaning for the person who donated it. As they sew they are putting their heart and memories into the quilt and they use it as a way of exorcising their sadness.
There is much heartache here but at the same time it is such an uplifting story of friendship. The storyline covers some darker issues – all subjects which are not readily talked about but which nevertheless cause so much pain and anguish to those involved. Their inclusion is not gratuitous by any means but gives substance and depth to the characters, all of which are so well drawn. You can’t help but hope that life has something better in store for them once you know their history. There are some surprises in store for the reader and I certainly wasn’t expecting the way that some threads linked together.
Many years ago, I used to devour novels by the late Irish writer, the fabulous Maeve Binchy. The Ludlow Ladies’ Society very much reminded me of Maeve’s books – for that wonderful community setting, its strong female characters and humorous and emotional storylines. I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely story; it’s fairly short chapters make it a book that you can fly through and the characters are a joy to get to know. Definitely recommended.
Finally I just want to say a word about the cover. The designer should take a huge bow. My review copy had a completely different cover so I haven’t yet seen this in the flesh, but I love it. It looks stunning and unlike so many covers, it actually reflects the story so well.
My thanks to Sophie at FMCM for the invitation to take part in the tour and also to the publisher for the review copy.
At the time of this post, The Ludlow Ladies’ Society can be downloaded from Amazon UK for just 98p. What are you waiting for – Go!
| About the Author |
A leading journalist in Ireland , Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with Independent Newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper. Ann has also lived in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast with her husband and two children. The Judge’s Wife has been shortlisted in the Epic Romantic Novel category of the 2017 RoNA awards.
| Author Links |