Tag Archives: Book Reviews

The Reviews are In

Writers Between the Covers

Shannon’s forthcoming book, Writers Between the Covers, hits stands and e-readers October 29 and the favorable reviews are starting to roll in.

This review appeared in today’s edition of the book industry newsletter Shelf Awareness. You can read it below for a bit of a tease. But why settle for that when you can have the full monty?


Ian Fleming was a sadomasochist. F. Scott Fitzgerald was worried about his measurement; Hemingway allayed his fears. Edith Wharton–Miss Propriety herself–carried on, while married, a long-term affair with Morton Fullerton. Did Dickens have a thing for his sister-in-law? Read Writers Between the Covers and these and other delicious tidbits will all be made clear.

Following their tribute to “literary landmarks” in Novel Destinations, Shannon McKenna Schmidt (a Shelf Awareness contributing writer) and Joni Rendon compiled a very different compendium of information about authors–gossipy and surprising, filled with all kinds of salacious stories about the writers we know and love (or think we know, at any rate). The authors have great fun with the titles of their chapters on various authors: “All War, No Peace” (Tolstoy), “Beautiful and Damned” (the Fitzgeralds), “The Alpha Mailer” (Norman) and so on.

Among the intriguing stories is that of Agatha Christie, who married a dashing aviator when she was 21. Four years later, after the First World War, they set up housekeeping in a manor house she named “Styles,” after the success of her debut novel. All was well until, a decade later, her husband blindsided her with the news he was leaving her for another woman. They argued, he left to keep an assignation with his lover and Agatha disappeared. Police organized what was called the “Great Sunday Hunt” and all available means were deployed to find the missing author. A pond was dragged, airplanes were used, clairvoyants consulted–still no Agatha. She was busy enjoying herself at a spa in another part of England, using the name of her husband’s mistress. Doctors diagnosed amnesia when she finally surfaced 11 days later, but she would never speak of the incident, in person or in print. She gave her husband the divorce he was pleading for, though she kept his now-famous last name, and later married Sir Max Mallowan, with whom she spent 40 happy years–all’s well that ends well.

Not all the stories end so tidily; in fact, few of them do. Much of the drama recounted in these pages was fueled by alcohol, sometimes drugs, bad tempers, confused gender roles–all the things that drive people to wild behavior. Sexual adventurism is an equal opportunity pastime, and the authors have a deft hand at portraying both men and women at their moral nadir–and, oh, how much fun it is to read about. –Valerie Ryan

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