NEWPORT is a masterful alchemy of social satire, dark humor, and finely realized characters that vividly brings to life the glitzy era of the Jazz Age. In the spring of 1921, the Great War is over, Prohibition is in full swing, and the Great Depression is still years away. The glittering “summer cottages” of Newport, RI are occupied by the gloriously wealthy families who built them, and all of their fabulously scandalous baggage. Having sheltered in Newport during his misspent youth, attorney Adrian de la Noye is no stranger to the town. Though now he’d prefer to forget the place, he returns to revise the will of a well-heeled client, Bennett Chapman. Chapman’s children have the usual concerns about their father’s much-younger fiancée, the beautiful and much-younger Catharine Walsh, but when they learn of the old widower’s firm belief that his late wife, who “communicates” via séance, has chosen Catherine for him, they’re shocked. And for Adrian, encountering Catharine again after decades apart proves to be a far greater surprise. Still, Adrian’s job is to handle a will, and he fully intends to do so – just as soon as he unearths every last secret, otherworldly or not, about the Chapmans, Catharine Walsh . . . and his own fraught history.
JILL MORROW has enjoyed a broad spectrum of careers, including practicing law and singing with local bands. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Towson University and a JD from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Jill currently lives outside Baltimore, Maryland, but she has a special place in her heart for Maine, Boston, and Chicago, not always in that order.
Loved, loved, loved this book!!! Could not put it down once I got started. I knew after the author revealed pieces of Adrian and Catharine's past that somehow the Chapman's played a role...I just never imaged exactly how big that role was!!!! I need more of Catharine! I desperately need her to find love and happiness in life! If you are a fan of old love stories and how the wealthy lived in the early 1900's this is the book for you! I give Newport 5 stars!
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I was inspired by a real event involving 19th century personalities Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tennessee Claflin. In 1870, Victoria and Tennie opened the first women-run stock brokerage in NYC, bolstered by the financial backing of millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt. They’d met Cornelius at just the right time: he was mourning the loss of his first wife, so the sisters helped ease his sorrow via séances (among other things). Reading this got me wondering about the background stories and vulnerabilities of those who found themselves seated around a séance table. Once the spiritualism piece of the plot was set, other aspects of the novel fell into place, and the characters took off.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
While I like most of the characters in this book, I admit to a soft spot for Constance de la Noye. Like most secondary characters, she never gets all of the limelight she deserves, but she’s smart, wry, and usually underestimated.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
The book came first. I don’t usually do well with titles.
What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
Rather than a scene, I am most proud of Adrian’s growth as a character in the story. But I can’t say much more or I’ll give something away!
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I’ve learned to listen to critiques and other voices. Ultimately, writing is about communication, and a writer needs to decide early on whether she wants to write for herself or share a story with others. You can’t be afraid to edit or to view your manuscript from a different perspective. This doesn’t mean you accept everyone else’s opinion as better than your gut instinct, but it does mean you honestly consider the reasoning behind the criticism and use as much of it as makes sense.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I like everything! I love the beautiful, mysterious 1920s aura the cover evokes. I particularly love that the woman on the cover resembles Amy in the book.
What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?
I’m fortunate enough that the 2015 releases that most excited me have either already come out or are on the verge of it. I’ve gobbled up The Other Side of Midnight (Simone St. James). I’m currently in the middle of Tiny Little Thing (Beatriz Williams). And I’m looking forward to The Other Daughter (Lauren Willig), which will be released this month.
What was your favorite book in 2014?
I am no good at choosing favorites. There are too many wonderful books vying for the title, and different ones appeal to me at different times. My 2014 list looks a little like my 2015 list, but there’s a reason I was anticipating my 2015 reads! In 2014 I particularly enjoyed A Hundred Summers (Beatriz Williams), The Ashford Affair (Lauren Willig – I think this came out in 2013 but for me, it was a 2014 read), and Fallen Beauty (Erika Robuck).
What’s up next for you?
I’m currently working on a book set in early 1930s Hollywood. And, for the first time ever, the title came before the story, but I’m going to hold onto that for a little longer until I’m sure it’s going to stick.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I loved “visiting” 1921 Newport. The elegant mansions and wild ocean provided the perfect backdrop for a story about rich people behaving badly. I hope readers will get caught up in the twists of the plot, and that they’ll get to know the characters well enough to understand why they do the things they do. I had such a great time writing NEWPORT; I hope people enjoy reading it!
“A delicious plunge into the gilded lives and mansions of another era, Newport sends you swimming through an intricate mystery involving money, tragedy, bittersweet love affairs, and voices from beyond, until you arrive at the whirlwind ending. It’s everything you need for literary escape: a ripping good read.” –Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers
“Jill Morrow's Newport is a portrait of a long-lost era, a sophisticated drama, and a gripping mystery all in one. Full of delicious prose and surprising twists, this book is a delight, an engrossing read that goes down like a glass of the finest champagne.” – Simone St. James, author of The Other Side of Midnight
“Newport has it all: intrigue, scandal, and séances to summon a spirit that will not rest. The slow unraveling of tangled secrets will keep you turning pages long into the night.” – Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author