Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Blogger. Leonora Pruner

Today I’d like to welcome author Leonora Pruner as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her virtual blog tour.

Leonora’s latest release is CLOSE TO HIS HEART. She stops by to talk about “Roaming in the 18th Century.”
Having read that the twentieth century had much in common with the 18th, I felt intrigued. That incorporated my teenage fascination with the Scarlet Pimpernel (I even named my bike Sir Percy). It led to a vicarious 19th century “romp” and three published novels. 

Certainly, that century’s grace, elegance, and romance attracted me. “The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” on The Wonderful World of Disney captured my imagination.

What if the Scarecrow (Dr. Syn) was a different sort of parson? What would he be like? What of his wife? As they took life, I sought out Thorndyke’s novels to ascertain that my characters were unique.

With my imagination engaged, research became a delightful adventure spiked with surprises. Driven to write about these characters, I faced questions – what was he/she wearing? What fabric and style? What did they see? On and on. 

I explored libraries locally and elsewhere – San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, and L.A.

The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (1990), defines the Enlightenment as “An intellectual movement of 18th century Europe questioning traditional beliefs and prejudices, especially in religion, emphasizing the primacy of reason and strict scientific method.” Many modern “western” ideals, born then, are now global.

Neil Postman wrote, “In the eighteenth century we developed our ideas about inductive science, about religious and political freedom, about popular education, about rational commerce, and about the nation-state. In the eighteenth century, we also invented the idea of progress, and, you may be surprised to know, our modern idea of happiness. It was in the eighteenth century that reason began its triumph over superstition.” #1][1] Then as now, people expected technology and science to transform life. Time’s glamorous veil blurred the edges of the less attractive elements portrayed in Hogarth’s work.

I found this dynamic period fertile soil for fiction. Delightfully different, comfortably understandable, it offers vicarious experiences of living long ago among people similar to us. 

Watching them deal with problems, I realized their ideas might help a reader face his or her difficulties. Exploring another era emotionally, may grant insight into our own.

Imagine my amazement after typing “THE END” to discover the latest in women’s footwear fashions featured medium heels located under the arch (as in the 18th century) and men wearing sport coats of bright plaids or floral patterns (so 18th century). There are common links between then and now. The biggest link is human.

Leonora, thank you so much for guest blogging here today. This reminds me of the old saying that goes something like what is old is new again. There are still some links between then and now.

Here's a brief synopsis: In this eighteenth-century romance, a young and naive Grace Carstares plans a midnight elopement with a handsome stableman with suspicious motives. Their plans are thwarted, however, when Grace discovers a mysterious stranger lying guard at her bedroom threshold. All is explained the next morning when, to her dismay, Grace learns her nighttime guardian is young Lord Buryhill, a suitor approved by her father who caught rumor of her misguided romance and decided to protect her from ruining her life.

Determined to marry this particular young woman, Lord Henry Buryhill comes to deeply love Grace and hopes to win her love in return. Yet buried beneath this determination is his own abandoned hope that he would meet a woman who might share his commitment to God. 

Henry wins Grace’s heart as well as her hand in marriage. But Henry cannot overcome his nagging fears that Grace clings to her affection for the stableman. His distrust darkly clouds their wedding night and shatters their hopes for a joy-filled union. Unaware of the reasons driving her husband’s suspicions and jealousy, a devastated Grace withdraws from Henry, busying herself in gardening and taking solace in God’s love.

An ensuing pony-cart accident, through which Grace loses all memory of former things, presents both Grace and Henry the opportunity to either abandon their shattered marriage or begin anew. A guilt-ridden Henry is determined to win Grace’s heart once again, but Grace must decide whether to accept the courtship of a complete stranger or continue her life in the small community among the people who found her and nursed her back from a head injury. Will Henry’s determination, forgiveness, and tender care be sufficient to rebuild a foundation for their marriage?  

Now for a little background on Leonora. She was born in Dubuque, Iowa, but has lived most of her life in California. Writing has been an important activity since junior high. She graduated from Westmont College in 1953 and earned an MBA from Pepperdine University in 1981.

Fascination with a possible eighteenth-century English character led to five years of extensive research, which resulted in the 1981 and 1987 publication of two period novels. That time remains of great interest to the author, and she continues to use eighteenth-century England as a setting for her work.

Leonora married in 1953, and her family has expanded from two children to thirteen grandchildren and five great-grand-children. She lived in the Republic of Maldives from 1987 to 1997, where she collected folklore and taught economics and computer science. While there she wrote the first drafts of this book. Other books by Leonora include LOVE'S SECRET STORM and LOVE'S SILENT GIFT. The title of her next novel is THE AERIE OF THE WOLF. For more information on Leonora, please visit

(Sorry I don't have a photo of Leonora. Blogger wouldn't let me use the one I had.)

# 1][1] Postman, Neil, Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 20 
00, pp 17-18


  1. I'm such a sucker for the 19th century! I think maybe I was born into the wrong century. Anyhow, if that wasn't enough to pique my interest, she's from IOWA! Dubuque is only about an hour from me so we're practically neighbors, even if she does live in California.

  2. I admire anyone who takes on a 'period piece' book. So much research!

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Leonora.

    Leonora - I admire all of the work and research you've done to make your book authentic. I really like historical fiction, especially if the author has "done homework." Thanks for sharing your process and your thoughts with us.

  4. Leonora, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. Your book sounds intriguing and I wish you much success.

    Vicki, Alex and Margot, thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great day.

    I'll be away from the computer much of the day (another crazy day at work), but want to thank everyone who stops by.

  5. I know it was a lot of research, but for such a fascinating period! And it paid off so nicely.

  6. Great interview. Five years of research? Wow, your knowledge must be extensive. I love the cover, by the way.


  7. It's so much fun to read how other writers' imaginations got sparked! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. This was so inspirational to me. I am writing my first fiction piece and it takes place in pre-history. It will not be historical fiction but I have to know something about the time period to make it realistic. Thank you.

  9. Historical fiction takes a lot of research in order for the reader to feel the are in the period with the characters. Best wishes for your success with CLOSE TO HIS HEART.

    Stephen Tremp

  10. Thanks for hosting Leonora today. Many of the bloggers who reviewed this book have enjoyed it. I hope your readers will give it a shot.

    Thanks again.


  11. I do like learning about other centuries. Love that comment that the connection between now and then is the human one.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.