Friday, September 29, 2017

Blog Tour Guest Post: Pleasing Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

Please join me in welcoming Deborah Swift back to Let Them Read Books! Deborah is touring the blogosphere with her newest historical fiction release, Pleasing Mr. Pepys, and I'm excited to have her here today with a guest post about the intriguing maid who formed the inspiration for this novel of spies and rebels in 17th century London. Read on and enter to win your own copy of Pleasing Mr. Pepys!

London 1667.

Set in a London rising from the ruins of the Great Fire, Pleasing Mr Pepys is a vivid re-imagining of the events in Samuel Pepys’s Diary.

Desperate to escape her domineering aunt, Deb Willet thinks the post of companion to well-respected Elisabeth Pepys is the answer to her prayers. But Samuel Pepys’s house is not as safe as it seems. An intelligent girl in Deb’s position has access to his government papers, and soon she becomes a target of flamboyant actress Abigail Williams, a spy for England’s enemies, the Dutch.

Abigail is getting old and needs a younger accomplice. She blackmails Deb into stealing Pepys’s documents. Soon, the respectable life Deb longs for slides out of her grasp. Mr Pepys’s obsessive lust for his new maid increases precisely as Abigail and her sinister Dutch spymaster become more demanding. When Deb falls for handsome Jem Wells, a curate-in-training, she thinks things cannot possibly get worse.

Until – not content with a few stolen papers – the Dutch want Mr Pepys’s Diary.

A Maid with a Mission
By Deborah Swift

Pepys’s Diary is the best resource we have on life in England in the 17th century. It provides us with a fly-on-the-wall view of life in London just following the Restoration of Charles II.

Pepys’s view of the women in his life was what you would expect – they were very much supporting characters in his story. Like all diarists, he is essentially egotistical in his presentation of events. But in Pleasing Mr. Pepys, I wanted to give the women centre stage, and Pepys provides plenty of inspiration and documentation for me to do so. One of the notorious highlights in the diary is Pepys’s passion for his maid, Deb Willet, and I wondered how she felt about the situation, and so began to unpick Pepys’s Diary for clues.

The inspiration for the novel came from one description. When talking of Deb, the diary says that Pepys felt ‘she might be a little too good for my family.’ Further research revealed she was very well-educated, having been schooled at a girls’ school in Bow--an education that was unusual for a girl of that era. Perhaps she might not be the archetypal downtrodden maid and have an agenda of her own? So the idea for a novel about Deb Willet was born.

Samuel Pepys’s wife, Elisabeth, had little education so I could well imagine tensions arising between the two women. At the time too, England was at war with the Dutch, so I wondered if the intelligent Deb could somehow be involved in espionage for the enemy. After all, she was in an ideal position to do it. I had heard of Aphra Behn, the actress and playwright, who played a similar role in the same period. Samuel Pepys had access to vital information about the English Fleet, and in his diary, he had been frank about the antics of the libertine King Charles II and his court.

Research introduced me to a fascinating Restoration world of spies and rebels, whores and priests, and I tried to populate the spaces between the lines of the diary with this plausible but entertaining history. But at the heart of the novel is the innocent maid, who is not quite as innocent as she seems.

About the Author:

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Pleasing Mr. Pepys is on a blog tour!


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of Pleasing Mr. Pepys to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Pleasing Mr. Pepys

1 comment:

  1. This sounds great -- I hadn't realized Pepys' maid was so interesting!


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