Girl in Oxford: The Inspiration for Girl in Red Velvet by Margaret James

Last week saw the paperback publication day for Girl in Red Velvet by Margaret James – a wonderful saga set in 1960’s Britain, specifically Oxford. Today Margaret tells us a little more about the inspiration for her new book and describes the Oxford of the past …

Hello readers! Thank you so much for dropping by – it’s lovely to have you here.

Girl in Red Velvet was inspired by the time I lived in Oxford during the late 1960s onwards. My boyfriend, who was soon to be my husband, was an undergraduate there. So I got to know his friends and in those days anyone could wander in and out of the various colleges, at least during the daytime.

Oxford was a lovely city in the sixties. It’s still lovely, but some hideous modern buildings have replaced a few of the older ones. The pub in which Lily gets drunk for the first and most humiliating time is now a pizza palace, and the once grand department store of Elliston and Cavell is now part of a nationwide chain.

At that stage in my life, I didn’t have any definite ambition to become a novelist, but I must have been soaking everything up because, when I came to write Lily Denham’s story, Oxford seemed the obvious place to set it, and the story unfolded more or less before my eyes.

Lily is a clever girl – much cleverer than me – but she still makes lots of mistakes. On her first day she meets Harry and Max, best friends who decide she’s one of the lads and invite her to go with them on their madcap adventures, stealing punts, almost drowning themselves, and climbing over towering walls into deer parks. Lily isn’t supposed to fall in love with either, let alone both of them. But she does.

It looks as if there can’t be a happy outcome to this situation, and for a while everything looks pretty grim for Lily, and for Harry and Max, too. But time has a way of sorting things out, and at the end of the story all three of them find themselves in the places they never expected …

Girl in Red Velvet is available as an eBook on all platforms and can be ordered as a paperback from all good book retailers. Click on the cover image above for purchasing options. 

For more on Margaret
Follow her on Twitter @Majanovelist
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Check out her website and blog www.margaretjamesblog.blogspot.com

A Tribute to Wuthering Heights: Girl in Red Velvet by Margaret James

9781781893357

This week has seen the release of Margaret James’s long-awaited new novel – Girl in Red Velvet. The book is set in the sixties and miles away from the Yorkshire moors, but today on the Choc Lit blog, Margaret is talking about its similarities to one of her favourite works of fiction – Wuthering Heights!

This month, I’m delighted to have a new novel published by Choc Lit and to be able to tell you how I came to write it.

I’ve always loved Wuthering Heights, which was one of my favourite books when I was a teenager, and which remained a favourite throughout my twenties, thirties, forties and beyond.

As I have grown older, I have come to admire the novel and its creator even more than I did when I was young, impressionable and often drawn to attractive bad boys like the dangerous and terrifying but (to a starry-eyed teenager, anyway) irresistible Heathcliff.

How did a motherless girl living in a remote village in 19th century Yorkshire come to understand the power of such a horrible man? Who did she meet that inspired the wayward but charismatic Catherine Earnshaw? Did Emily Brontë know a real Edgar Linton, a man who was fatally drawn to the volatile Catherine while knowing all along that she was completely wrong for him? It’s taken me nearly fifty years, but at last I’ve got round to writing my own take on this difficult situation in my fan fiction tribute to one of my favourite classic novelists.

The three main characters in Girl in Red Velvet are just as flawed as those in Wuthering Heights. But nobody lives on the Yorkshire moors. Nobody is as wicked as Heathcliff, as difficult to love as Catherine or as saintly as Edgar Linton. I have given the stories of all three of my central characters – Lily Denham, Harry Gale and Max Farley – what I hope is a resolution that’s satisfying for the reader and also for them.

But, at the same time, I’ve tried to keep it real. I’m not Lily, but she says and does things I and many other women have said and done. She makes mistakes, she takes wrong turnings and she chooses unwisely. When things go wrong for Lily, it’s often because she consciously made a bad decision and then found she had to live with it. But she also tries to do the right thing, even though this is often hard.

As for Max and Harry – unlike Heathcliff and Edgar Linton, who are implacable enemies, Max and Harry are best friends. Then Lily comes between them. It soon looks as if it’s going to be impossible for any of them to find their personal happy-ever-afters. But I’ve tried to suggest a few possibilities. I hope I leave everyone in the places they want and deserve to be – and the reader with a smile on her face!

C-VCiZFXoAIKeB1Girl in Red Velvet is now available to purchase on all eBook platforms. Click the banner above for purchasing options.

For more information on Margaret James:
Follow her on Twitter: @majanovelist
Like her on Facebook: Margaret James Novelist
Check out her blog: www.margaretjamesblog.blogspot.co.uk