Today @kraftireader and I are kicking off the Blog-Tour for Aphrodite’s Tears by Hannah Fielding. It is a delectable delight of mythology, history and a passionate romance. My post also features a fantastic Q&A with Hannah Fielding, and my review of course.
About the Author
Following her huge success as one of the UK’s leading romance authors with total sales of over 130k, Aphrodite’s Tears follows the award winning success of Hannah Fielding’s previous novels Burning Embers, Echoes of Love, Masquerade, Legacy and Indiscretion. Echoes of Love won Romance Novel of the Year at the IPB Awards in 2012 and Burning Embers was Amazon’s book of the month in 2011, while Hannah’s novels have been translated into 13 languages. With its spectacular setting and deep emotional drama, Aphrodite’s Tears will appeal both to fans of her backlist, as well as lovers of atmospheric travel writing including Santa Montefiore, Penny Vincenzie, Victoria Hislop and Lucinda Riley.
Egyptian by birth Hannah is fluent in French, English and Arabic and has lived all over the world, she currently lives between her writing retreat in the South of France and her rambling family home in Ireland. Hannah’s grandmother, Esther Fanous, was the revolutionary feminist writer in Egypt during the early 1900s and helped found the Women’s Wafd Central Committee in 1920.
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About the book
Summer 1977, Oriel Anderson finds herself on the charming Greek island of Helios hoping to fulfil a long held dream or joining an archaeological dive team. Broken hearted after her university fiancé left her for her best friend, Oriel is determined to prove she can make it in a man’s world heading up an all-male team on her first underwater dig.
Spending her days excavating a Roman shipwreck, surrounded by turquoise waters and scorching sunshine, Oriel thinks that she has found paradise, until she meets her employer and the owner of the Island, Damian Lekkas.
A widower, with a scarred face, Damian is a brooding presence on the island who instantly takes a shine to Oriel, but Oriel resolves to maintain a professional relationship between them. But the mercurial Damian has other ideas, and Oriel’s stay soon becomes a battle between her head and her heart.
When strange things start happening Oriel doesn’t know what to think. She learns that no other women who had come to work on the dive had lasted more than a few weeks, then a young boy almost drowns on one of the dives, and one morning Oriel finds a dead songbird in her room, its throat slit, and out exploring the beaches on her own Oriel becomes trapped in a cave. Could these things just be a coincidence or is someone trying to send her a warning?
A modern retelling of some of the most popular Greek myths, Aphrodite’s Tears evokes the Legends of the Gods, their power and passion, playfulness and cunning.
The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know) I have just finished reading Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry. He is such an intelligent and considered writer; I am very much enjoying his take on Greek mythology. I only wish the book were more comprehensive – no Troy and Odysseus, no Jason and the Argonauts, no Theseus and the Minotaur, no Heracles’ labours. Perhaps he will publish a second volume.
Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper? I think it was the romantic writers like Victoria Holt, MM Kaye, Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier who inspired me and still inspire me the most: the romance, the detail in description, the beautiful, almost poetic prose. I am also deeply inspired by the French romantic authors of the 19th century, like Stendhal, Musset, Theophile Gautier, Leconte de Lisle and Victor Hugo, whose works formed the basis of my university degree in literature.
The last book you read which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Helen Dunmore’s collection of poetry Inside the Wave moved me deeply. She died this year, very soon after the publication of the book, which is about life and death and the borderline between. It was through her poem ‘Hold Out Your Arms’, published widely in the media after her death, that I discovered the book. It really is beautiful. You can read it here:
Are you more of a movie night or series-binger kind of person?
I love series, because just as I love thick books, I enjoy long, sustained stories on screen. Films can leave you wanting more, but series allow you to really get to know the characters, and there is plenty of scope for detailed, intricate plots with twists and turns that compel you to watch the next episode – and the next! Recently, I have been in a ‘royal phase’, watching The Crown about Queen Elizabeth II and Victoria about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
Margaret Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gone with the Wind. I would love to know how the writing process was for her (supposedly, she wrote the ending of the book first, and then went back and wrote the story leading up to that ending) and how she enjoyed the epic movie based on the work. I’m also fascinated by her refusal, despite pressure, to write a sequel – and I wonder what she would make of the two sequels by other writers that were released many years later, after her death.
From where did you get your inspiration for Aphrodite’s Tears, and why did you pick Greece as the setting?
Quite simply, Greece is one of my favourite parts of the globe. It’s a very special place for me, because it is so romantic. I bought my wedding dress in Greece – and I felt like a goddess wearing it; and my husband and I honeymooned there. One of the best evenings of my life was spent in the Acropolis in Athens, watching a production of the Sleeping Beauty ballet under the stars.
Greek mythology plays an important role in Aphrodite’s Tears, in fact I would say it is the essence of the story. Do you think it is becoming a lost and forgotten subject?
The Ancient Greeks left such a rich inheritance of legends – stories full of wisdom, and a god or goddess for everything, from love and war to wine-making. It would be such a shame for those legends to fade from memory, I think.
Creative minds find all kinds of ways to reinvent old stories, whether legends or fairy tales. In the 1960s, for example, colour films like Jason and the Argonauts brought the Greek myths to life. Fast-forward to the early 2000s and writer Rick Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson’ series was enchanting children all over the world.
The Greek myths have timeless appeal, so I don’t think they will ever be lost. The main issue appears to be confusion between the Greek myths and the Roman ones, because there is considerable overlap between them.
Leading on from the previous question, along with mythology there is also a heavy emphasis on history and the cultural identity of the Greek people. How important was it to you to try and give your readers a real sense and taste of all of those elements?
Absolutely essential. I don’t just want to tell readers a story; I want to draw them into that story. I want them to be sitting in their armchair in London or Kansas or Amsterdam and be transported to a little Greek island – to feel the sun on their face, to smell the fishermen’s catch of the day, to taste the tang of the salt air on their tongue. I so love to travel, I want to help my readers travel too. Only then can they really understand the context of the story that unfolds, and believe in the characters.
Helios sometimes appears to be an island lost in time, especially when it comes to the gender inequality. Women are still not treated the same as men when it comes to inheritance and marriage. Is this an imbalance so ingrained in their society that they refuse to let go of it, because the Greek feel that it would be like letting go of their historical past and traditions?
I think all cultures find change difficult, particularly when a way of being has existed for a very long time. As you suggest, granting women full equality would mean letting go of past traditions – and these are important for a people’s identity. The island of Helios is traditional, and that can have a downside for women; but it also has an upside in terms of men providing for and protecting their families. Just as ancient Greeks revered goddesses, so do men of this island appreciate women.
There are occasional glimpses of the third eye, the divine instruments of fate and the connection between folklore and mythology. The beliefs of the Greek are linked with all of those things. Do you believe in fate?
Yes, I do, which is why the concept appears in my most of my fiction in some way or another. I don’t believe that our futures are already written and we have no power over our destiny. But I do believe that something things are meant to be, and that if we are open to there being a guiding force, it can lead us to places where we can be our very best selves.
Will we be hearing from the inhabitants of Helios again?
I think not. It is never easy to part from characters; to leave them at a point in time in a story, even with the suggestion of a bright future ahead. But being an author is about writing the next story: a fresh story that will capture your heart and transport you to another world; a new set of characters about whom you will care deeply. I think my passion for travelling helps here: each new story is set in a new country, and I am always excited to let go of the last book and travel to the new place, where I can learn all about its people and culture.
Aside from the fact the writing is beautiful, melodic even, Fielding manages to transport her readers straight onto the island of Helios. An island I would love to travel to and explore, despite it being a fictional one.
Oriel is hired in her capacity as an archaeologist trained in underwater excavation, to investigate a shipwreck on the island of Helios and catalogue any possible treasure or remnants of an ancient culture the team discovers. She is shocked to find that her employer isn’t a stranger to her, well technically he is. let’s just say they have yet to be formally introduced.
The spark between them is electric, despite the fact they are both fighting their attraction in different ways. Damian is a man with many female admirers, and Oriel is determined to only be with someone who wants her and her alone. Archaic views are quite normal in Helios, as are the traditions they follow, regardless of whether those traditions endanger the lives of the islanders.
The historical element made me want to take up scuba diving and treasure hunting. It is what makes this read more than just a romance with an intense relationship between two people in the throes of passion. The descriptive scenery, the islanders who seem to live by the rules of the middle ages, and the historical and cultural context, are what make this a beautiful read.
Helios sometimes appears to be an island lost in time. Lost in the history, the folklore and mythology of Greece. They adhere to the power of the divinities, the traditions set by the gods and of course the more mundane laws decided by man.
It is a delectable delight of mythology, history and a passionate romance. I admire authors who can transport their love of a culture and country onto the pages of a book, and in doing so inspire readers to experience new things. Not every scribe is capable of transporting their readers into the vivid imagery they create with words. Hannah Fielding is one of those authors.
Buy/Pre-order Aphrodite’s Tears at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Aphrodite’s Tears is out in paperback on 25th January for £7.99
Watch the booktrailer for Aphrodite’s Tears