I love being in at the start of a brand new book, especially when it is by an author I should have featured here more frequently than I have, so it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome back Fiona Cane to the blog today to tell us all about her new book. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour. In addition, you can be part of the book’s journey as there’s a very special UK giveaway too. Read on for more details!
Last time Fiona was here she was writing about the impact of Haiti for her book The Other Side of the Mountain, in a post you will find here.
Staying in with Fiona Crane
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Fiona. It’s lovely to have you here.
Hello Linda, and thank you very much for inviting me. I’ve been looking forward to this evening hugely.
Which of your books have you brought along this evening and why have you brought it?
I have brought along my latest book A Song Unsung because, today, I am celebrating its publication day.
Oo. Happy publication day Fiona! So what can we expect from an evening in with A Song Unsung?
A Song Unsung is a coming-of-age story about an impressionable teenage girl who falls under the spell of a beautiful singer with a mysterious past. It is set against the bohemian backdrop of Soho’s jazz basements and coffee shops of the late fifties, and a Sussex village during the long hot summer of 1976, so we can expect a wonderfully nostalgic evening.
I remember that summer so well. Tell me more…
1959 was a wonderful year to be young. The streets of Soho buzzed with the sound of jazz and Rock and Roll played in late-night sweaty basements, where beatniks danced with bare foot girls until the early hours. By day, teenagers with money to spare hung out in coffee shops, sitting at sticky Formica tables, drinking cappuccinos as the latest hits blared out of the jukeboxes. And in the French, and the Coach and Horses, painters, boxers and actors, mixed with writers, musicians and prostitutes. There were delis, charcuteries, Algerian coffee stores, Italian, Greek, Indian, Chinese, German and French restaurants. The air was thick with the fug of cigarette smoke, and the notorious gangs, which controlled the gambling and protection rackets, prowled the streets.
That sounds wonderfully evocative.
1976, on the other hand, will be forever remembered for its seemingly endless summer. It was swelteringly hot, the mercury hitting ninety day after day. Lawns cracked, tarmac melted on the roads, plants withered in the parched fields and flowerbeds and, with fewer aphids to feed on, there was a plague of ladybirds, who feasted on human sweat to stay alive. With no rain for forty-five days, the country was running out of water. The government’s advice was to bathe with a friend, put a brick in the cistern, let wilting flowers die, and cars go dirty. People queued at standpipes. The land was parched and, with the rivers and reservoirs drying up, water had become a precious commodity, more valuable than gold.
It certainly was! What else have you brought along and why have you brought it.
It’ll come as no surprise to you that I drove here on my Vespa, wearing, as you can see, my tank top, flares and platform shoes (and probably a little too much blue eyeshadow), armed with a bag of goodies.
It was quite a vision actually Fiona!
But before I tell you what they are, I’ll just pop on the extremely mellow A Song Unsung Soundtrack – Spotify to get us in the mood.
Martha Palmer, one of the central characters, is a waitress at a coffee shop owned by Giovanni Fiori, an exuberant Italian who sees life through a prism of Italian proverbs. It would have been remiss of me, therefore, not to have brought along a cappuccino – although I doubt mine reaches his exacting standards – and a Negroni, Giovanni’s favourite cocktail. I have also brought Bo Rivers’ trumpet, because it is such a beautiful object and, when played by a skilled jazz musician, the most exhilarating instrument to listen to. I toyed with the idea of bringing a Space Hopper (too big), and a Starsky and Hutch dvd (bit anti-social), but in the ended I opted for The Best of Jackie, hilariously sub-titled, The best thing for girls – next to boys. It’s Song’s central character Natasha James’ bible, and a gloriously nostalgic shrine to my teenage years. Linda, you can expect a really good laugh when we flick through it.
I think I might remember that edition from my youth Fiona… I certainly remember my Space Hopper! It’s been wonderful staying in with you this evening to hear about A Song Unsung and to relive my teenage years of 1976. Thanks so much for staying in with me.
Thank you for a fabulous evening and, as Giovanni might say, eat well, laugh often, love much.
A Song Unsung
Set against the bohemian backdrop of Soho’s jazz basements and coffee shops of the late fifties, and a Sussex village during the long hot summer of 1976, A Song Unsung is a coming-of-age story about an impressionable teenage girl who falls under the spell of a beautiful singer with a mysterious past.
‘Powerful, evocative with such a big heart. Once I started I couldn’t put it down.’ Dreda Say Mitchell.
Soho 1958. Martha Palmer, an aspiring singer working in a coffee shop, is desperately short of cash. She’s been scouted by a photographer. The money’s good. But there’s a catch …
Sussex 1976. Nothing much happens in teenager Natasha James’ life. Her mother has taken to her bed and her father, the local doctor, is preoccupied with his patients. But when the magnetic Martha Palmer moves into her village, Natasha is drawn into a glittery world of extravagant parties, steeped in the embroidered rhythms of jazz.
But who is the mysterious Martha Palmer? And why is she the keeper of so many secrets? Desperate to fill in the gaps of Martha’s past, Natasha uncovers a heart-breaking love story, the truth of which threatens to destroy all that she holds dear.
A Song Unsung is published today, 27th May 2021, and is available for purchase here.
A Song Unsung UK Paperback Giveaway
Lovely Fiona has offered a paperback copy of A Song Unsung for a lucky Linda’s Book Bag reader. The giveaway is open to UK postcodes and I’ll need the winner’s address for Fiona to send the book, but details won’t be retained beyond that! For your chance to win, click here. Giveaway ends at UK midnight on Thursday 3rd June.
About Fiona Cane
Independent author, Fiona Cane, graduated from Exeter University with a degree in Philosophy. She worked in London in film PR, before moving back to Sussex where, as a married mother of two, she divided her time between coaching tennis and writing books.
To date, she has published two mysteries, Killing Fame, and The Gate – the psychological thriller, When the Dove Cried – and the critically acclaimed literary thriller, The Other Side of the Mountain.
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