I was so fortunate to meet lovely Julie Stock, author of The Vineyard in Alsace, at our local Deepings literary festival back in April and you can read more about that here. I was delighted when Julie agreed to come on Linda’s Book Bag and tell me a bit about why she writes stories with happy ever after endings, because in a world that seems to have gone crazy with man’s inhumanity to man of late, I feel we all need a little extra happiness in our lives.
The Vineyard in Alsace is available for purchase here.
The Vineyard in Alsace
Is there really such a thing as a second chance at love?
Fran Schell has only just become engaged when she finds her fiancé in bed with another woman. She knows this is the push she needs to break free of him and to leave London. She applies for her dream job on a vineyard in Alsace, in France, not far from her family home, determined to concentrate on her work.
Didier Le Roy can hardly believe it when he sees that the only person to apply for the job on his vineyard is the same woman he once loved but let go because of his stupid pride. Now estranged from his wife, he longs for a second chance with Fran if only she will forgive him for not following her to London.
Working so closely together, Fran soon starts to fall in love with Didier all over again. Didier knows that it is now time for him to move on with his divorce if he and Fran are ever to have a future together. Can Fran and Didier make their second chance at love work despite all the obstacles in their way?
The Vineyard in Alsace is a contemporary romance set against the enticing backdrop of the vineyard harvest in Alsace in France.
Why I Write Stories With Happy Ever After Endings
A Guest Post by Julie Stock
All my life I have been a voracious reader, reading everything I could lay my hands on during our weekly visit to the local library when I was a child. As soon as I was allowed to use the adult section of the library, I gravitated towards the romance section. I think this was because, at the time, as a teenager, love was the only thing I couldn’t find out about by asking other people so books filled that void. I read everything from Jackie Collins (I know, I don’t know how I got away with it either) to Barbara Cartland, and so began my love affair with romantic fiction as a reader.
As a slightly older teen, I branched out into other genres of course – for a long time, all I read were Stephen King books – and I enjoyed those books just as much, but in a different way to romance novels. What I liked most about them was the way that good usually conquered evil, and the same can also be said of many thrillers and murder mysteries, as well as many other types of genre fiction.
Once I stopped having to read certain books for school, I found that there were many other classic books from English literature that I could enjoy as well just for the sake of reading them and more often than not by that stage, I chose books with an element of romance to them. A Tale of Two Cities is one of my personal favourites, partly for the romance but also because it is set in France, which brings me neatly to my university years. I took my degree in French and my particular course involved reading a lot of classic French literature, which allowed me to explore romantic stories I might otherwise not have come across. Madame Bovary at one end of the spectrum, is a book that has stayed with me ever since, just as much as Le Mort le Roi Artu (The Death of King Arthur) which is much more of a romantic tale.
Along the way, I began discovering that romantic fiction didn’t always have a happy ending and what’s more, that some of those books would turn out to be among my favourites. To this day, my favourite Shakespeare play is still Romeo and Juliet, despite the tragic ending. Every time I see the play, or watch a different version of it – West Side Story for example – I still hope the ending will be different, even though I know it won’t. So this would seem to prove that although I don’t mind crying my eyes out for a story that I love, I still want the characters to have a happy ending, or at least a happy ending of sorts. And then there’s the books like Jane Eyre, which hover on the brink of tragedy for so long and then in the final pages, give you back a little hint of hope for the future. That’s another one of my favourites. This all led me to conclude that I like a bit of hope with my tragedy.
When I look back and consider all the romance books I have read since those early days, I think that one of the main reasons I have continued to read and enjoy them is because there’s something so satisfying about seeing the characters you have come to love get to walk off together into the sunset. You can heave a sigh of happiness and know that they’ll be all right on their own now. These are the books that bear re-reading time and time again as well. Pride and Prejudice fills me with happiness every time I read it, and I have read it a fair few times!
So when I finally sat down to write my first novel, From Here to Nashville, I knew it would be a romance. I also knew that I would write books with a very determined happy ending rather than any sense of tragedy because however much I might enjoy a book that makes me cry with sadness from time to time (The Time Traveler’s Wife anyone?), I still love a story with a happy ending. When I wrote my first book, I’d actually been going through a bit of a hard time, and writing the book became my escape from reality, a place where I could make everything work out and where I could whisk my readers away to a different environment as well. And I think this is one of the main reasons that romance readers love the genre too.
I write and read romance because it makes me happy to see the characters find their happy ending. I don’t mind the occasional romantic tragedy if it sets me up to expect a sad ending. I loved Me Before You because for me, it was the perfect example of it being ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’, and their love was so selfless. I feel the same about The Fault in our Stars. Sometimes, it’s cathartic to cry over a lost love and it’s that reality that makes those books so effective. Falling in love is part of the human condition and the majority of us will have been in love at some point in our lives, and maybe lost in love as well. So after the tears have been shed, what better pick-me-up than to read a romance with a happy ever after ending?
(Oh, Julie, I agree with every word and I share a love of so many of the same books. I can’t wait to read The Vineyard in Alsace which is firmly on my TBR!)
About Julie Stock
Julie Stock is an author of contemporary romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She indie published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and has just published her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace. A follow-up novella to From Here to Nashville is also in progress, as well as the next novel.
Julie is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Society of Authors and The Alliance of Independent Authors.
When she is not writing, Julie works part-time for a charity as a communications officer, and freelance as a proofreader, web designer and supply teacher. She is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.