Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Respectable Actress - Dorothy Love

Title: A Respectable Actress
Author: Dorothy Love
Paperback: 363 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published date: October 2015
FTC: Received from publisher to review

Back of the book:

When the illustrious India Hartley is accused of murder, she has to uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

India Hartley, the famous and beautiful actress, is now alone in the world after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.

A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best—and handsomest—lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.

Because India can’t go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia low country and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip’s dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her.

My thoughts:

I enjoy receiving books to review like this because I wouldn't have normally picked this one up on my own. It was a historical fiction crime mystery with dashes of romance that was perfect for me. I was reading it when I was eight months pregnant and it was the exact book I needed to read at night when I couldn't sleep.

I love the Southern setting. In the Author's Note at the end of the book, she points out that while Indigo Point is fictional, she based it on a real plantation called King's Retreat on the southern tip of St. Simons Island. I loved her descriptions of the island and just the beautiful southern flora. I want to visit somewhere like this.
Retreat on St Simon's Island

I also loved that she based her character, India Hartley, on a real historical actress named Frances "Fanny" Anne Kemble.  The real Fanny Kemble's story is actually quite fascinating. I'd love to read a book or watch a movie of her life!  Slavery is an issue covered in this novel and it was something that concerned the real Fanny Kemble as well. I also think it's so interesting that while today actors/actresses are quite huge celebrities, back in the day it wasn't quite respectable to be an actress.  You must check out Dorothy Love's Pinterest board for A Respectable Actress.  The clothes!!
Fanny Kemble

I really enjoyed A Respectable Actress and love the author's attention to historical detail and research. I will definitely check out more of her novels in the future.  In particular, The Bracelet looks so interesting.

Ooo and on Dorothy Love's website, her newest one looks interesting! The relationship between Robert E. Lee's wife and her slave.