Welcome Guest Blogger Author Camille Di Maio! She will be one of the featured authors at our 19th Anniversary Pulpwood Queen Book Club Convention that we call Girlfriend Weekend! She is the author of many books including:
I think that a book called The Way of Beauty pairs well with a group as amazing as the Pulpwood Queens.
The name of a book sometimes goes through as many edits as the book itself. My working title for this one was Farewell Kisses at Penn Station. Before I had a story, I had an image in mind – a soldier kissing his girlfriend goodbye as he boarded a train and headed to war. I picked Penn Station at random. Just one of those things you look back on and recognize as an unexpected blessing. Because I could have picked any city, any station. It was merely my starting point.
I searched for images of Penn and was astonished by what I saw – grand, glorious photographs of a cathedral-like structure. Glass ceilings, iron lacework, marbled halls. My first thought – I must have never gone upstairs because I only remember the concrete darkness of Penn Station.
Then I realized the tragic truth: that the images depicted a masterpiece torn down decades ago to make way for Madison Square Garden. And all that was left in its place were the underground concourses that have been likened by architectural historians to rat tunnels.
I knew I had my story. Like a woman hidden beneath wrinkles and gray hair, there was much beauty to be uncovered and history to be revealed.
The building, heyday, and ultimate destruction of Penn Station is an epic story in and of itself. Definitely the prefect setting for The Way of Beauty. But a story is about people. Though all of my characters are fictional, they were inspired by real women whose struggles amid a changing New York and war-torn world inspired me as my fingers flew with excitement. Their journeys would mirror that of the station that was an important part of their lives.
Pearl – the ardent socialite-turned-suffragette who is torn between raising her son and giving her life for the causes she believes in. Marching from New York to Washington, DC in wintertime to arrive at the inauguration, she is the passionate woman we all ache to be.
Vera – an immigrant who has lost her mother to workhouse exhaustion and cares for a father whose health was taken after laboring in the tunnels underneath the Hudson River during the building of the station. Vera is challenged to better her circumstances even as the man she loves becomes engaged to someone else. And her desire to make the right choice has made her a beloved favorite of readers.
Alice – daughter of Vera, a college student who is beginning to enjoy the freedoms won for her by the women of the previous generation. But with freedom comes responsibility and as WWII casts its shadow over New York, Alice must choose between the fire of romantic love and the steadfast promise of family traditions.
Spanning decades, The Way of Beauty culminates in the women discussing this truth: that, like Penn Station, we all have our beginning, our heyday, our decline. But unlike the rubble of buildings, women are capable of rising from the ashes and reinventing themselves, no matter their age or circumstance. Together, beauty in all its forms will triumph.
I hope, as we near Election Day, you’ll read this story that captured my imagination the minute it came to me. And that you’ll remember always that you are exquisitely beautiful just as you were created.
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