Thank you so much for joining me today, Alex. Can you tell me a little about A Postcard From Italy and what inspired it?
Thanks for inviting me. A Postcard From Italy is my eighth full length novel and it’s a love story that spans nearly ninety years. Connie is harbouring a secret at the onset of the Second World War and then we fast forward to today where Grace opens a storage unit containing a lifetime of treasured belongings.
She then sets out to unravel the secret in a quest to right the wrongs meted out to Connie all those years ago and maybe find love for herself when she travels to the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera.
What’s your writing process like (from idea to final draft) and how has it evolved since your first novel?
I’m not much of planner so I usually have an idea which I brainstorm with my editor before writing a synopsis which I then use as a rough guide to get me started. I write Monday to Friday and aim for at least a thousand words unless my deadline is looming and then I’ll write every day and into the night too for a week or two until the book is finished.
I start the day by editing the previous day’s words before writing on. My writing process hasn’t changed much since my first novel, although I procrastinate a lot less these days, I don’t have the time, and I always end the day by writing the outline for the following day … I like to know what’s happening next.
Which elements do you think are important for a successful novel?
There are so many variations but if you have a good story with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter, so your reader feels compelled to read on, then you’re off to a good start. If you have wit and a sprinkle of wisdom too then even better.
Which fictional character would you like to meet?
Georgie Hart from my Carrington’s department store series. I love her so much and think we’d be the best of friends. It might sound daft but after writing four books she really does feel real to me and I miss her sometimes.
What other advice would you give to new writers like me?
Write from the heart. Write what you want to and don’t try to emulate other authors because that just turns it into a slog of insecurity and comparisons and it sucks the joy out of the whole process. Being creative means being yourself and going for it because what you have to say is unique and wonderful and after all … only you can write like you.
Alex Brown is the No.1 bestselling author of books including the hugely popular Carrington’s series, The Great Christmas Knit Off, The Great Village Show, The Secret of Orchard Cottage and The Wish. Her uplifting books are published worldwide and have been translated into seven languages.
In 2006, Alex won a competition to write the City Girl column for The London Paper, with a circulation of 500,000 weekly copies. She went on to write the column until her first novel, Cupcakes At Carrington’s was published in 2013. Alex has written short stories and articles for numerous magazines including Prima, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, People’s Friend and Femail.
Cupcakes At Carrington’s and The Secret of Orchard Cottage both went to No.1 in the UK Kindle chart. Cupcakes At Carrington’s, The Great Christmas Knit Off, The Great Village Show and The Secret of Orchard Cottage were all UK Top 50 Paperback Bestsellers and voted Kobo Best Books of 2014 and 2016.
Alex lives by the sea in Kent with her husband, daughter and a very glossy black Labrador. When she isn’t writing Alex enjoys knitting, watching Strictly Come Dancing with her daughter and going to Northern Soul nights, and is passionate about supporting charities working with care leavers, adoption and vulnerable young people.
Say hi to Alex on Twitter: https://twitter.com/alexbrownbooks
A Postcard From Italy was released by HarperCollins on 11th July 2019. Click to view A Postcard From Italy on Amazon UK.
My review for A Postcard From Italy.
Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930’s.
Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.
Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?
Grace likes working at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company. She loves finding treasures in the abandoned units. When she is asked to catalogue the contents of unit 28, she discovers the mystery of Connie Levine, a woman who followed her heart to Italy at the end of the second world war.
I fell in love with Grace straight away. I could relate to her. She is stuck in the cycle of a very set routine. Anxiety stops her from moving out of the comfort zone she has set for herself. Also, I would seriously love her job mostly due to the fact that I am so nosy.
When she starts to get to know Connie, she begins to open up her life to possibilities. Also meeting Ellis, the nephew of her employer helps, especially when her search takes her to Italy.
Grace goes on quite a journey. I loved the parallels between Grace and Connie. I felt so attached to each woman. I’d love to know even more about Connie’s story. After Connie and Grace, my favourite was Ellis. He makes a wonderful supporting character.
Other characters I loved, others not so much (some I wanted to properly scream at,) but they were all well-developed and each added something to the story.
I liked the romantic plot strand but I adored the mystery at the heart of this book – which is Connie and her life.
With the beautiful settings, it was easy to feel engrossed and present with this novel as the descriptions of places were so vivid and enchanting.
There are truly some bittersweet moments in this book. I really rooted for the characters and wanted it to work out well.
This was my introduction to Alex’s novels but it won’t be the last one I read.
A Postcard From Italy is a beautiful, warm, captivating read that I couldn’t put down.