One Thursday in July, 1989, beneath the headline, ‘Obsession That Became A Bestseller,’ the Daily Mail featured a photo of a young woman looking like a lottery winner. The Sun’s piece was cheekier: ‘Mum Makes A Million,’ appeared beside the boobs on Page Three. Ann Victoria Roberts hadn’t posed naked and hadn’t won a fortune. She’d written a novel that prompted a bidding war for publishing rights across the world. In the eyes of the press, the fact that Ann was not a career woman, but simply a wife and mother, was newsworthy.
In this memoir, the author reflects on the joys, travels and heartaches of her life as a sea-captain’s wife – and the decade of coincidences and lucky strikes that led to the writing of two big historical novels, ‘Louisa Elliott’ and ‘Liam’s Story’. Amidst the fanfares and famous names, and the journey that took her from York to Australia and back, Ann reveals the work behind the success, and the truth behind her characters. As readers, we browse in bookshops, spot a favourite author or intriguing title, and take it home. Rarely do we consider the path that book must have taken from the author’s pen to a bookshop shelf. And yet the story behind it is often stranger than the fiction it contains.
I love books that open my eyes to incredible and awe-inspiring characters that I haven’t ‘met’ yet. I really enjoyed Housewife Writes Bestseller and it made me realise that there are so many incredible true stories out there that are much much stranger than fiction. It’s also a real feel-good story that reminds us all that we all have the capacity within us to follow our dreams and we should take the chance while we can to work on transforming our ambitions into reality…
It doesn’t really matter if you have already read Ann’s books or not to love this book This is no run of the millwriter’s memoir, but instead asks us to consider big questions about female ambition and what barriers that women have and still do face when they step outwith their expected roles to follow their ambitions and how they can be represented for doing so. ‘Having it all’ is still very much an unattainable dream for most women and being a military wife and mother to boot means that Ann has to battle to be taken seriously in an environment where many people simply dismiss her writing as a ‘little project’ rather than the soaraway bestsellers that they actually became. The late 80s seems in some senses just the other day, so it’s shocking to look back and see the way that Ann was represented and fascinating to go back in time with her and see this story from the inside.
I loved its immersive quality and spent an afternoon travelling back into Ann’s childhood and reading her story from her perspective, rather than from the point of view of the tabloid papers. Ann’s was a wonderfully warm and sincere voice and it’s easy to see why she became a bestseller. It has made me curious to discover her fictional voice and I look forward to hearing her characters’ voices after discovering her real voice. I loved reading about Ann’s journey and really recommend this interesting and though provoking read. I have handed this over to my mum who I know will love reading about these experiences from Ann’s perspective and I know that she will enjoy it as much as I did.
Buy yourself a copy here
Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and I heartily recommend that you read it as soon as possible so that you can enjoy this wonderfully written and thought provoking read for yourself.
Writer On The Shelf
Ann Victoria Roberts trained as an artist, but she was simply a Yorkshire wife and mother when her
success hit national headlines in 1989. Her first historical novels, Louisa Elliott and Liam’s Story, had just sold for what was then a record sum for a first-time author. As the wife of a sea-captain, Ann’s writing was often interrupted by visits to ships and journeys around the world – she even received news of Louisa Elliott’s acceptance while on the bridge of an oil tanker entering port.
Her fifth novel, The Master’s Tale, based on the life of Captain Smith of the Titanic, was inspired by little-known facts behind the disaster, and praised for its authenticity. A keen reader and researcher, Ann enjoys painting pictures with words and regards good historical fiction as a pleasurable way to discover the past. Her seventh book, Housewife Writes Bestseller – a Tale of Life & Luck, is a memoir of crazy days, huge upheavals, and the strange events that led to her success. Ann is now a grandmother, and lives in Southampton UK with her semi-retired Master Mariner husband.
Ann is a member of the Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors – she can be contacted through her website: www.annvictoriaroberts.co.uk and her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnnVictoriaRoberts