Author Allison Montclair has written one of the best books of the year The Right Sort Of Man. It is in stores on Tuesday, June 4th from Minotaur Book. It has three of best new characters that have come along in a long time. The story is refreshing and fun. Two strong female characters and a great comic-relief character in Sally (who is a man). I got to send Allison some questions via e-mail that you can read below as well as the synopsis of the book. I highly recommend it. A great summer read!
1. What was your basis for the story? Keith Kahla, my editor at St. Martin’s Minotaur, recommended a non-fiction book about an actual marriage bureau begun by two women in London in 1939, because he thought I might find it to be a good milieu for a mystery. By the time I came home from the conversation, Iris and Gwen were alive and talking to each other inside my head. I decided to change the setting to post-war London because I found the transitional period to be fascinating, and I didn’t want to write a wartime setting.
2. The characters of Iris and Gwen are awesome! They are strong women during a time when women are not suppose to be. Both have their baggage and secrets but together they are a force to be reckoned with. Did you set out with this in mind about the two of them? Yes. I was interested in how the women who lived through the war were affected, even traumatized. It seemed to me that there hadn’t been many books that addressed that. And the idea of a business enterprise conceived of and run by women, butting up against the resistances of the time, whether social, financial, or what have you, was intriguing as well. The economic side of fictional worlds has always interested me when it’s incorporated well.
3. The character of Sally is some great comic-relief. Was that the plan? To the extent that I had a “plan.” I knew Sally’s character and his first two scenes, but he was so much fun to write that he insisted on finding his way into more and more of the story, so I accommodated him. In my head, he sounds like Stephen Fry.
4. What was your research like for that time period? Was there such a thing as a Marriage Bureau? I read general histories, and specific histories of topics I required [rationing; fashion; the London spivs; etc.]. I also read all of the London Times for the period in which it took place, including the adverts which provide many juicy tidbits about daily life.
5. Will there be more stories with these characters? There needs to be!!! They are too good. Yes, yes and thank you! The second book is done and turned in, and I have begun writing the third. I hope to be listening to these ladies’ tell me about their lives for many years to come!
In a London slowly recovering from World War II, two very different women join forces to launch a business venture in the heart of Mayfair―The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Iris Sparks, quick-witted and impulsive, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, practical and widowed with a young son, are determined to achieve some independence and do some good in a rapidly changing world.
But the promising start to their marriage bureau is threatened when their newest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered and the man arrested for the crime is the prospective husband they matched her with. While the police are convinced they have their man, Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are not. To clear his name―and to rescue their fledging operation’s reputation―Sparks and Bainbridge decide to investigate on their own, using the skills and contacts they’ve each acquired through life and their individual adventures during the recent war.
Little do they know that this will put their very lives at risk.
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