Friday 21 March 2014

The author in my spotlight is ...Annie Thomas

I am delighted to welcome

Annie   Thomas

Annie Thomas is a British writer, and the author of ‘A Woman’s Choice’. Brought up in London, after a degree in English and History she now works in an English university, and lives in a rural converted Victorian pub where Tolkein and C.S.Lewis once stopped for a beer on one of their many walks together.

author of A Woman's Choice


Annie ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for sharing your lovely book with us.

What is it about your book that will pique the reader’s interest? 

I think if you like stories with a strong central female character, someone who questions herself and her own decisions as she grows from a child into a young woman, you will enjoy ‘A Woman’s Choice’.

It is a story of a young emigrant girl striving for success. But it has a more complex hinterland – a strong moral compass and a sense of values.  It sits firmly within popular, commercial women’s fiction, but brings some insight into the times Clara lived through – a world of people living in tenements, so close to wealth and power and yet so distant; the impact of approaching war in Europe on Americans in 1914.

You have set this book in early 20th Century America  - how important is location to your story?

The location in New York is central and far more than an exciting back-drop.  Although many emigrants to America in the early 1900s went straight through Ellis Island and on to mining or agricultural areas, many stayed in New York, and created neighbourhoods that became associated with the country they came from. It was a time that was the beginning of the wonderful ethnic mix that New York is today, filled with the energy of thousands of different people trying to make their way, in a era when success was beginning to turn into skyscrapers.  The contrast between that, and the almost feudal rural England where Clara was born, demonstrates just how far Clara has come; and how she tries to keep the values of her childhood while absorbing the drive and ambition of her new home. The setting also allowed me to show that not everyone was able to adapt to such a different life. Some people failed.

Why do you choose to write in your particular genre?

I have always loved historical fiction, from Anya Seton and Jean Plaidy, who I read as a girl, to Philippa Gregory, Lindsey Davies and Kate Mosse who I enjoy reading now. 

Historical fiction enables us to share the experience of living in a different social and political world.  It’s the inter-connection between the public and private that fascinates me. I believe that a well researched, well told story gives us a perspective and insight about another time and place, and does that through the imaginative leap of seeing through the eyes of another person.  It’s the genre I feel most comfortable with, maybe because I believe that even within a completely different context, there are some fundamental truths about humanity and individuals that are timeless.

A Woman's Choice has an attractive cover - why did you go for that particular design?

Clara is the heart of the novel.  It is her story.  And I knew it was her as soon as I saw that beautiful work by Guy Hoff. In the early 20thC there was an American literary magazine called ‘The Smart Set’, and the portrait was originally published there.  New York is an essential element of the novel, and the cover designer used an early black and white photograph, to highlight the emerging city, as the backdrop.

When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?

Finding time is difficult because I work full time! Sunday mornings are my best time, and I love working in our dining room. I can see people walking their dogs, and in the winter it’s cosy even if I know it’s cold outside, because the walls are dark red.

Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?

Yes, I have started another story, which might end up including some of the people from ‘A Woman’s Choice’.  The difficulty is that when you have lived with some characters for a while, it is hard to leave them behind…

It's been a real pleasure to host this interview with you Annie, Jaffa and I wish you continued success with your writing and look forward to the continuation of this story.

**A Woman's Choice is currently on promotion 21st - 27th March available to buy 

from and **


My thoughts on A Woman's Choice

When we first meet Clara Foley, she is a stalwart twelve year old, with an old head on young shoulders, her compassion belies her tender years. As she boards an emigrant ship at Liverpool to start a new life in America with her delicate mother, her energy and zest for life is palpable. What then follows is a beautifully written account of Clara’s time in the land of opportunity, of the people she meets and of the friendships she makes along the way.

I really enjoyed this lovely historical saga which effortlessly takes you back in time to the early part of the twentieth century, to a time when America was the Holy Grail of opportunity and where the melting pot of humanity mixed and mingled on the streets of New York. The author captures the time and place so perfectly you can imagine you are there, and the sights and sounds of this vibrant time in America’s history echo realistically amongst the abiding theme of friendship, ambition and ultimately of the power of love.

Well worth reading if you like historical sagas.


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