Decorum: A Novel
by Kaaren Christopherson
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Foramts: eBook, Paperback, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Kaaren Christopherson’s brilliantly observed novel captures the glamour and grit of one of the world’s most dazzling cities during one of its most tumultuous eras–as seen through the eyes of a singularly captivating heroine…
In 1890s New York, beautiful, wealthy Francesca Lund is an intriguing prospect for worthy suitors and fortune hunters alike. Recently orphaned, she copes by working with the poor in the city’s settlement movement. But a young woman of means can’t shun society for long, and Francesca’s long-standing acquaintance with dashing Edmund Tracey eventually leads to engagement. Yet her sheltered upbringing doesn’t blind her to the indiscretions of the well-to-do…
Among the fashionable circle that gathers around her there are mistresses, scandals, and gentlemen of ruthless ambition. And there is Connor O’Casey–an entirely new kind of New Yorker. A self-made millionaire of Irish stock, Connor wants more than riches. He wants to create a legacy in the form of a luxury Madison Avenue hotel–and he wants Francesca by his side as he does it. In a quest that will take her from impeccable Manhattan salons to the wild Canadian Rockies, Francesca must choose not only between two vastly different men, but between convention and her own emerging self-reliance.
Rules Of Decorum
A gentleman should not be presented to a lady without her permission being previously asked and granted. This formality is not necessary between men alone; but, still, you should not present any one, even at his own request, to another, unless you are quite well assured that the acquaintance will be agreeable to the latter.
If you wish to avoid the company of any one that has been properly introduced, satisfy your own mind that your reasons are correct; and then let no inducement cause you to shrink from treating him with respect, at the same time shunning his company. No gentleman will thus be able either to blame or mistake you.
The mode in which the avowal of love should be made, must of course, depend upon circumstances. It would be impossible to indicate the style in which the matter should be told… Let it, however, be taken as a rule that an interview is best; but let it be remembered that all rules have exceptions…
Sidekicks, Wise Women, and BFFs: Characters in supporting roles
By Kaaren Christopherson, author of Decorum
As much as authors might agonize over the fortunes and misfortunes of their lead characters, it’s often the secondary characters—the characters in supporting roles—who catalyze action and provide impetus for decisions the lead characters make. Rather than steal the show, a well-developed wise woman or BFF can help make the heroine’s interactions believable. Conversely, if the hero leans heavily on a wooden, underdeveloped sidekick, the hero—not to mention the sidekick—may fall flat. In my first novel, Decorum, a tale of deception, love, bigamy, and murder in Gilded Age New York, giving the secondary characters wide berth to become fully themselves offered opportunities for the lead characters to shine and gave the story depth.
BFF Vinnie Lawrence could be credited with saving heiress–heroine Francesca Lund’s sanity. In the opening pages of Decorum, Vinnie pulls up in a hansom cab early one gray morning to engineer Francesca’s escape from two years in the care of Maggie and Jerry Jerome in their rambling New York mansion. Francesca had lost her family in a boating accident, which sent her into a tailspin of grief and near addiction to laudanum, her only relief from the Jeromes’ constant bickering. It was Vinnie who had the chutzpah to say, Enough!, and set Francesca on a course to healing and wholeness that comprises one of Decorum’s main plotlines. Moreover, throughout the novel Vinnie helps the reader see events from a perspective different from Francesca’s well-intentioned but sometimes erroneous view.
Ida West is an unlikely wise woman when she enters Francesca’s world, yet her perspective and advice help Francesca reach the tipping point in a decision that will change her life. Unflappable and amiable, middle-aged Ida has traversed a long and sometimes painful road to wealth alongside her husband Walter, who was lead character Connor O’Casey’s partner in the Five Star Mine. Similarly, Francesca’s wealthy and shrewd “Aunt” Esther Gray is able to question the motives and actions of the younger generation—and tell them so, even if they don’t like to hear it. Ida and Aunt Esther share a moral compass that’s true and remind the lead characters (and readers) of the boundaries of decorum, yet experience has given them a charitable view of human beings and their foibles.
When Ida West introduces us to adventurer Sándor Király, Connor O’Casey finds a friend whose wide world view could match his own, despite their very different backgrounds. The mountain-climbing Hungarian aristocrat is the unwitting catalyst for a wager that takes the pressure of a promise off the social-climbing Irishman from the Belfast streets. The outcome seals their friendship and forms the happy conclusion of another of the novel’s plotlines. Rather than steal the spotlight from Connor, Sándor is able to shine his own light on Decorum’s characters and situations and gives the reader a fuller view of them all.
As with Decorum’s supporting cast of characters, authors will likely find that letting their secondary characters live full lives can give their stories depth and perspective and can be a boon to storytelling.
To see more backstories and biosketches of Decorum’s characters, go to http://www.kaarenchristopherson.com/the-ocasey-chronicle
“A story of discovery, entitlement and love.” – Northern Virginia Magazine
“Remarkable in its similarities to the work of Edith Wharton. The reader feels drawn into a world of glamour, glitz, and supreme hypocrisy. Everything is permissible as long as one does not get caught. It is a drama of manners and the stakes are high—one misstep could mean social oblivion…[Decorum] will appeal to a wide range of readers, particularly those who enjoy period novels such as Age of Innocence and The Portrait of a Lady.” – The Historical Novel Society
“Beautiful heiress Francesca Lund must figure out how to assert her ideas within the confines of 1890’s New York high society.” – Library Journal
“Reminiscent of Washington Square but with a more modern heroine, Decorum illuminates the dark world beneath New York society. Christopherson incorporates a clever mystery and populates the novel with a large cast of characters.” – RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
About the Author
Kaaren Christopherson is the author of Decorum—a novel about Gilded Age New York—that began taking form in 1999 during a course on writing historical fiction. From that moment, Connor O’Casey (who had been rattling around in her brain for months) finally appeared one night and said, “All right, woman. Here I am. What are you going to do about my story?” So she began to put his words on paper, and he hasn’t kept quiet since. Soon Francesca, Blanche, Tracey, Vinnie, and the rest of the characters began arguing, gossiping, loving, and forming themselves into Kaaren’s first novel.
Kaaren has had a professional career writing and editing for over 30 years and is a senior editor for an international development nonprofit organization in Washington, DC.
She has written fiction since her school days, story poems, children’s books, historical fiction, and time travel, and continues to be active in writer’s groups and writing workshops. In addition to her career as a writer, Kaaren was the owner of a decorative painting business. She loves to travel and prowl through historical sites, galleries, and museums. She is active in several churches in DC and in her local Northern Virginia community, where she shares her home with feline brothers, Archie and Sammy.
A Michigan native, Kaaren received her BA in history and art and her MA in educational administration from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
For more information visit Kaaren Christopherson’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, January 11
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, January 12
Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Wednesday, January 13
Interview at Back Porchervations
Thursday, January 14
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Guest Post at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Friday, January 15
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Monday, January 18
Interview at The Absurd Book Nerd
Tuesday, January 19
Guest Post at Brooke Blogs
Wednesday, January 20
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, January 21
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Friday, January 22
Guest Post at The Reading Queen
To win a Paperback or AudioBook of Decorum please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.
– Giveaway starts at 12:01am EST on January 11th and ends at 11:59pm EST on January 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Decorum Blog Tour