Right now I’m just beyond the halfway point of my 13-stop “blog tour” celebrating the publication in paperback of The Conditions of Love (it began May 5 and ends June 6) and I’m thinking this is as good a time as any to pause to catch my breath and reflect on what’s transpired.
I somehow thought that a “blog tour” would actually involve me showing up at different blogs, much as I have over the past year at various bookstores, for readings and discussions of the book. What “showing up” at a blog meant I wasn’t quite sure but I was extremely pleased that thirteen bloggers—from Hawaii to Texas to Florida–signed up for my tour. Imagine how exhausting if I actually had to travel to visit each one!
As it turns out, what a blog tour means is that a blogger agrees to read TCOL and to post her (yes, all hers, as far as I can tell) review on her blog on a designated date. That has certainly meant less wear and tear on me, even virtually. And it has also meant that I’ve been on the receiving end of such a steady and surprisingly moving stream of reactions, that my head sometimes starts to swim. Let me share a few.
Brenda at Daily Mayo kicked things off by finding a “sort of hidden current underneath the events in the story” and feeling that TCOL was “sort of dream-like” but still realistic. I loved that! Don’t we all feel that sometimes? Our heads keep us in the here-and-now but our hearts lead us to a timeless place. Eunice would no doubt agree.
On Bibliophiliac Lisa wrote a long and loving review, describing TCOL as being written in a “lush style, driven by character and voice” and “the farthest thing from a formula romance novel,” a comment I treasure. I have to say that all the books I value are “character-driven,” meaning that you feel you are experiencing the decisions the characters are making as you read. Lisa made me realize that that’s the only kind of book I would know how or want to write—engaging in the process of discovering the characters is what makes the writing satisfying. Lisa also picked up on the mythic aspects of the book, something I hope we’ll be pursuing at greater length in a follow-up interview [watch this space].
Heather, the Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World (in South Florida), was most affected by the intense mother-daughter dynamics in TCOL. She shared that she “was raised by a divorced mother in borderline poverty, my mother sacrificed for us kids and did everything she could for us.” Eunice and Mern reminded her of other kids she knew growing up, kids who weren’t so lucky: “Kids who never had enough—enough food, enough attention, enough schooling, enough guidance, enough love, enough of anything except perhaps more than enough hits and barbed words thrown their way—and kids who grew up way too fast.”
What I’ve discovered in reading these blog reviews is how deeply personal their reactions are, how much they reveal about themselves as they write. Few reviewers in mainstream media share as much. Heather found TCOL “heartbreaking and uplifting.” I’d say the same about her review.
I’m not going to march you through every review but I want to share some of my favorites. At the Kahakai Kitchen blog, Deb in Hawaii doesn’t just review a book [she called TCOL “gorgeously written”]. She pores through the book looking for details which will inspire a related dish. She found four instances of ice cream (I forgot there were so many) and so came up with “Mint Chocolate Chip ‘Nice’ Cream.” “Wanting to bring a bit of Rose (Eunice’s earth-mother rescuer and nurturer) into the mix, I chose to add fresh mint as well as a touch of (local island) honey to round out all of the flavors and represent Rose with her herbs and bees.” It will be hard for me to eat ice cream from now on without thinking of Deb’s flavorful review.
So many of the bloggers have been so dear. Anita of Anita Loves Books in Florida tore me up when she wrote “When I finally began to love this book, about 40 pages in, I couldn’t stop reading it. I was praying for Eunice’s happiness and safely, so much of her life she appeared to be in great peril.” And Mandy of Knowing the Difference in Georgia totally charmed me with her comment: “The writing flows so effortlessly, the words so vivid and smart, I was whisked away with the words and the story line.” But it was Marisa of Missris in Pittsburgh who truly stole my heart by highlighting one of my favorite relationships: “The way [Eunice] talks to the turtle, who is sometimes her only companion, and then makes the turtle (who is also named Eunice, also by her mother) respond to her, again almost breaks my heart.”
Who knew there was so much close, loving reading going on in these blogs? I suppose that’s as much the point of the blog tours as promoting each new book. I would love it if this post helps bring some attention and appreciation to them. That would only be giving them back in kind what they so generously gave to me. The complete list of the blogs on my blog tour is below, with links. Do check some out.
Monday, May 5th: Daily Mayo
Wednesday, May 7th: Bibliophiliac
Friday, May 9th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Tuesday, May 13th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, May 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, May 15th: Anita Loves Books
Monday, May 19th: Knowing the Difference
Wednesday, May 21st: Missris
Thursday, May 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, May 23rd: Sweet Southern Home
Tuesday, May 27th: Love at First Book
Monday, June 2nd: The Relentless Reader
Friday, June 6th: Books a la Mode