How is it possible that the genius author of such 19th century classics as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest died destitute in Paris at the age of 46? In John Vanderslice’s vivid and heartbreaking novel, we meet Oscar Wilde after a two year incarceration in an English prison for gross indecency. Once free, his reputation and finances in ruins, he leaves England for Paris where, frequently inebriated, he stays in shabby hotel rooms paid for by his few, remaining friends.
In Vanderslice’s deftly-imagined portrayal, Wilde’s idiosyncratic and affecting greatness is revealed. Through his thoughts and interactions, we experience the heart and mind of a literary giant brought down by the “morals” of his time. For a while, Wilde manages to maintain his legendary sense of humor and joie de vivre, a superstitious religiosity, and the dogged pursuit of beautiful young men. Sadly, the formerly prolific author and raconteur no longer has the desire to write. Instead, he distantly observes the world and is ultimately felled by serious illness. It is at his funeral that his artistic reputation begins its slow rehabilitation as friends and a small devoted public flock to the church to honor the artist, who spoke openly about homosexuality, the hypocrisy of Victorian values, and the importance of art for art’s sake.
Almost immediately, you’re drawn into Oscar Wilde’s life. It only takes a page or two, and his personality is so vivid that I began to feel as if I might know him. I don’t know much about Wilde historically, so I can’t speak as to the accuracy (or not) of this fictional story to the real history, but to me it was very good at painting a vibrant picture of not only his life, but of Paris at the time.
I really felt for Wilde, and I knew that his decline was coming as I read, but the last part portrayed it well, in fits and starts as I’d imagine his last days would seem, sober and then not, in pain and then not. The book gives me a greater appreciation of Wilde, and I will have to seek out more of his work (I’ve only read Dorian Grey).
I’m also impressed with the writing of the author, John Vanderslice. I may also be looking up some of his other works, too!
I was provided this book by the author for an honest review.
“With elegant prose and a glittering wit of which Wilde himself would approve, John Vanderslice brings to life this agent provocateur’s final act. Masterfully merges insight and imagination with the historical and literary record to provide a portrait that is rich and nuanced and utterly compelling.” – Rachel Hall, author of Heirlooms.
“John Vanderslice lays bare the consequences of Wilde’s betrayal by those whom he loved and trusted. The Last Days of Oscar Wilde is a grim reminder of the destructive power of senseless persecution.” —Jennifer Steil, author of The Woman Who Fell From the Sky.
“A quiet, tender portrait of a literary giant.” Kirkus Reviews
John Vanderslice is the author of Island Fog (Lavender Ink), a collection of ten stories and two novellas set on Nantucket Island, named by Library Journal as one of the Top 15 Indie Fiction titles of 2014. A native of the Washington DC area, John has an MFA from George Mason University and a PhD from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL). After graduating from ULL in 1997, he began teaching at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), where he is a much loved professor of writing. His fiction has been published in many leading journals, as well as several anthologies, including Chick for a Day and The Best of The First Line.
I hope everyone has had a lovely holiday season, and that your 2018 will be all you wish it to be!
2017 was a year full of ups and downs for me, personally and professionally. In late 2016, I found out that Midnight at the Orpheus had won a Rainbow Award for best bisexual fiction. I was delighted, especially as that book had been one that I’d been told was too complicated and should be either a lesbian romance or a mystery. So to have it win, and in its original form, was satisfying.
In February, I presented with M Jane Colette at Owl’s Nest Books, with “More Than a Guilty Pleasure: Reading and Writing Romance and Erotica in the Age of Plentiful Cyber Porn.” I was sick with a horrible cold, but the evening was fabulous, with a good turnout and great participation from the audience. (We even included our parents! And they didn’t seem to mind too much!)
I also contributed to the collection SCREW CHOCOLATE, adding a new Alex and Vee story to the lexicon. I highly recommend it, and if you want more Alex and Vee, my favourite May-December lesbian romance, check out my free reads and Vee: Volume One.
Most of my year was a quiet one in terms of my writing. I spent time with my Calgary Romance Writers of America chapter, attending two workshops, one with Eve Silver in the spring, and one with Marie Force and Joanna Mackenzie in the fall. Both were interesting and gave me ideas for new works.
In August, I attended When Words Collide conference in Calgary, and M Jane Colette and I adapted our presentation for More Than a Guilty Pleasure. It was fantastic, and again, great participation from the audience. I am always nervous with panels and presentations, but having such a great and amazingly inspiring friend like M Jane gets me out of my comfort zone. We might do a panel or presentation next year too, and though my stomach roils at the thought of being in front of so many people, I know we’ll have a good time, and hopefully educate and engage at the same time.
And then, oh my goodness. Thanks to the awesome Naked Girls Reading, who in November, read scenes from Midnight at the Orpheus during their performances at the Taboo! Sex Show. Nothing quite like a brand new audience, and to hear my words being read aloud, performed, by amazing naked women. Many thanks to Keely Kamikaze (and M Jane for introducing us!)
To round off my writing, I have a short piece in the YYC Queer Writers collection entitled Queer Christmas in Cowtown. The book was curated by M Jane, and though I missed the launch at Owl’s Nest (darn illness), I was delighted to hear that the book had sold out at launch, and made it into Calgary’s top-selling non-fiction book list! If you haven’t picked it up yet, please do, because all royalties go towards Camp Fyrefly.
In my personal life, I was definitely busy. Tony and I moved to our new place at the end of March and rented out my condo in Calgary. In the last ten years or so, I’ve moved probably five times (or maybe more) and it’s hectic and busy and nutty every time. And somehow I always end up with more books, clothes, and other things that I don’t know what to do with. But with Tony’s help, I managed to reduce my book collection, donate a bunch of stuff, and get everything ready to go. It was worth it though, as we’re happily settled in our new home and I’ve never felt so content.
2017 was also a year of some losses, some incredibly difficult ones. My cats, Pandora and Zowie, who I’d had since they were six weeks old in 1998, both passed away due to kidney disease. They had been with me for 18 (and in Zowie’s case, almost 19) years, and thus more than half my life. To have to say goodbye was tough, and it’s still painful, though getting better. I’m glad that I had support through the tough decisions.
But, in other happier news, Tony and I adopted a Scottish deerhound puppy from Fernhill Deerhounds in Ontario. He was born in February and is now almost 11 months old. Byron joined us in mid-May, at 12 weeks old, and has grown like a weed. He joined our 10 year old greyhound, Arch, who was not too certain he wanted to have to teach a puppy his manners. And after Zowie passed away in October, we adopted a 5-year-old cat from the Cochrane Humane Society, named Norton. So if you’re keeping track, that’s a household of two people, two dogs (Arch & Byron), and three cats (Percy, Bismarck, and Norton) as we go into the new year.
Coming up next year are a few exciting things, including a secret project which you will learn about in a few months… I can’t say any more yet! 🙂
And last but not least, I want to thank a number of people, without whom this year wouldn’t have been what it was. To my parents and family for all their support; to my friend and crit partner Cathy Pegau, who is amazing and thoughtful and a great writer too; to my CaRWA friends and chapter buddies, who are a great support and inspiration; to M Jane Colette for pushing me to do more stuff; and most of all to Tony, who makes every day better.
The tour is bringing romance readers and listeners the opportunity to listen to all 48 full, unabridged chapters of Consequences well in advance of the audiobook’s Christmas release.
Plus, there are fabulous prizes at every stop, and 48 chances throughout the tour to enter to win a COMPLETE set of M. Jane Colette’s paperbacks!
WHAT’S THIS BOOK ABOUT? An affair. Heartbreak. Consequences. Absolution, redemption, and love… in the most unexpected places–a steamy second chance romance unlike any you’ve ever experienced.
Elizabeth did not plan to break up his marriage when she had an affair with her law school professor. But she did. Fifteen years later, she’s still coming to terms with the consequences of her youthful infatuation: a stepdaughter who hates her, an ex-wife who will never forgive the betrayal, a sister-in-law who’s determined to make Elizabeth her confidante. Compelled to reveal the “tragedy of her life” to a nameless lover, Elizabeth finds herself forced to reconsider her definition of love, commitment, and responsibility—a process that finally releases her from the shackles of her past mistakes and shows her the way to her own happily-ever-after.
A NOTE ABOUT STRUCTURE: The story unfolds over the course of one night, as the narrator Elizabeth relates the “tragedy of her life” to her current lover as they, to quote a reviewer “do lover things.” The story Elizabeth tells spans 15 years. The scenes between Elizabeth and her lover are pure dialogue, and interrupt the “story proper.” There is no “he said/I said” in the dialogue between Elizabeth and her lover… a challenge the narrator solved masterfully, but which may give the first-time listener pause. To increase your enjoyment of the story, an opportunity to read, as well as listen to, the chapter, is provided.
Today, we bring you Chapter 5: THE WOMAN IN RED.
“Help! I can’t listen–I don’t have headphones handy, I’m at work, and when I get home, my children will be underfoot! Plus, I’m more of a reader than a listener, you know?”
PREFER TO READ? We’re on it. Here is a passworded-protected link to the written version of this chapter for tour participants’ eyes only. Your password is erotictragedy5, and your gateway is here: CHAPTER 5: THE WOMAN IN RED.
FIRST STOP: If this blog is your first stop on the tour, you might want to head back to stop number one, hosted by Tome Tender Blog: The Photograph, or to the Tour Home Page, and start from the beginning. There are chances to win prizes at every stop!
TODAY’S PRIZE: For a chance to win your very own copy of Consequences (of defensive adultery) by M. Jane Colette, enter here:
GRAND PRIZE TREASURE HUNT ENTRY, PART 5: For a chance to win one of two COMPLETE HARD COPY SETS of M. Jane Colette’s novels, send an email to TellMe@mjanecolette.com, and:
put #ConAudioTour Day 5 in the subject heading,
ask to be added to her Rough Draft Confessions newsletter (or tell Jane you’re already on her mailing list, and it’s awesome, when’s the next love letter coming?) and,
answer the question: “Who is the woman in red?”
Hint: The answer’s contained in today’s chapter.
(The small print: Each tour stop offers you one opportunity to enter the GRAND PRIZE TREASURE HUNT DRAW, for a total of 48 entries if you complete the tour. The books that comprise the GRAND PRIZE are the novels Tell Me, Cherry Pie Cure, and Consequences, and the non-fiction collection of essays Rough Draft Confessions, including its controversially titled, available-only-in-Canada, beta reader / limited edition predecessor.)
writes tragedy for people who like to laugh, comedy for the melancholy, and erotica for women and men who like their fantasies real. She believes rules and hearts were made to be broken; ditto the constraints of genres.