Category Archives: Castle of Dreams

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get ideas for novels?

This is a copy of the Poe I found in a second hand bookshop. I refer to it in my WIP. The other is a copy of a book with pressed flowers.

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I typically find ideas in different ways: old books I come across, stories from family or friends, places I visit, research I do for stories that lead to other interesting facts I can use in a novel, historical events. The inspiration for my WIP came from a book my daughter found in Elizabeth’s Bookstore in Perth, WA. Someone had pressed flowers between its pages and that led me to create a botanist in my story.

Where do you write?

I write at a desk facing the window. I can happily listen to music while I am writing or have complete silence, it makes no difference to my creativity.

Where do your ideas for characters originate?

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They mainly come from my own imagination. I research whatever it is that defines each character: a talent, a hobby, a job. By a character having something that defines them it makes them come to life in the story. One character in my WIP is botanist another a painter another a housekeeper who runs a tight ship. One makes cheeses, another restores antique books, even a minor character is a good seamstress.

What authors do you like to read?

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My reading tastes are a broad church:

I read popular fiction: romance, historical, crime, and literary novels if they tell a good story. To me the essence of a good book is its story.  My books are character driven but I also try to write an intriguing story; one that will keep my readers turning the pages.

A few of my favourite authors.

Australian: Henry Handel Richardson, Kate Morton, Lucy Treloar, Geraldine Brooks.

British: Daphne du Maurier, A. S. Byatt, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Mary Stewart, Nancy Mitford, Sebastian Faulks, Pat Barker.

American: Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pat Conroy, Anais Ninn.

I come from a family of book lovers and have inherited the reading gene. Nothing beats opening a new book, reading the first line and knowing the book will stay on my bookshelf forever.

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Have a great week, reading, writing, and dreaming.

Cheers Elise

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First Day of Spring

Today is also publication day for Castle of Dreams in the UK. September the first is the first day of spring in Australia and the first day of autumn my favourite season in the UK.

Thanks to those of you who have reviewed Castle of Dreams and have written about it on social media and have enjoyed reading it. Writers are a supportive bunch!

Photos taken by my son of the wildflowers on the acreage around our house up north in Western Australia. The house faces the Indian Ocean and the wildflowers in spring are beautiful. 

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Happy First Day of Spring

Elise

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A Paris Apartment Lost in Time

When I was writing my first novel Castle of Dreams I came across an article about a Paris apartment that had been lost in time. I filed the article away knowing I would use parts of the story and some of the images in a future story.

My work-in-progress is a dual narrative story set in World War One and its aftermath and in contemporary times. The story of the Paris apartment easily transposes to early twentieth century Australia where one narrative is set.

The locked Paris apartment has all the things I love: an abandoned home, images of what was left behind, a romantic story, a mystery.

 

In my files I have an unpublished story I wrote some years ago in which one of the characters is an artist so it wasn’t difficult to reread my original research, and use this in my WIP. I always give my characters a particular profession or hobby that defines them throughout a story and in the past narrative of my WIP one of my characters is an artist. So when I looked again at the photos of the Paris apartment and noticed the abandoned paintings I knew I’d have to include these in my story. Perhaps one of the found paintings will be of a young woman as beautiful as Marthe de Florian.

Marthe de Florian, the apartment owner’s grandmother who was a Belle Epoque socialite, theatre actress, and Boldini’s (the artist who painted this picture) muse.

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The Paris apartment has all the elements of a fairytale including another of my favourite things: love letters from the past. They were found in the apartment, wrapped in different colored ribbons and scrawled in the hand of, among others, Boldini and 72nd Prime Minister George Clemenceau.

In the present day narrative my protagonist is a botanist who seeks the secrets of her family’s past. My mother was a keen gardener and loved to be outdoors and my daughter inherited her grandmother’s love of nature and gardens.  I didn’t.  Yet now I have started to research this subject I’m fascinated. Biblical references to plants and flowers is something I will use in my story: the healing properties of herbs, perfume, and more.  Botany is a wide church.

Jasmine Flowers

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Have a wonderful week, dreaming, writing and reading.

Elise x

 

 

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Dual Narrative Stories

My first novel Castle of Dreams is  a dual narrative story set in two time periods. It has  family secrets, love, and betrayal and I explore how the past impacts on the present.  I love to read stories written in two time periods and I like writing them. Castle of Dreams has a present day story set in 2008 and an historical story set against a backdrop of WW2. It has secrets that unfold throughout the novel like a nest of Russian dolls.

My work-in-progress is a dual narrative story of loss and remembrance set against a backdrop of WW1 and its aftermath and the present. I am interested in how war impacts the people on the homefront as well as those who left their homeland to fight in distant lands. A generation was robbed of family members, lovers and in the case of many women the loss of their own future as wives and mothers. I have often wondered how these men and women ever found peace of mind after the war ended. Did they disappear from the fabric of a society which could never be the same again? Did they seek resolution? Did they mourn a lost generation for the rest of their lives? Or did they come to terms with their destiny?

These are the things I will be writing about in my new story. I am progressing slowly: I wrote an outline on three large sheets of butcher paper (it has changed along the way as I write) and I have a timeline for important happenings in my characters lives and also historical events. I am getting to know my characters and the secrets they keep.

I have always loved closed doors and shut gates as I wonder where they will lead to. Yesterday one of my characters from the present opened a gate that will lead her to many secrets from the past. Of course this will impact on her life and change it forever.

It was the sort of day she loved. The sky was blue and the air was drenched with the familiar scent of eucalypt. She had parked her rental car on the public road close to the iron gate that swung open at her touch.

I found the perfect gate in the image below and used it as the inspiration for the gate in my story. This scene is set in Australia while the gate below is in another country so I had to change what my character sees as she walks along the driveway to reflect the Australian countryside: birds, plants, trees, geography.

Image for the gate I used as inspiration for a scene in my story. 

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Last night I went to a friend’s birthday party in a city hotel. I knew most of the other party goers and they moved me as always with their sense of comaraderie and interest and support in each other’s work.

I fell in love with Steampunk which was the theme for the party. Like Alice in Wonderland I ended up in another place. Alice fell down the rabbit hole and I fell into the 19th century!

I had a spider tattooed on my arm (temporary) at the party.

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Have a wonderful week, dreaming, reading and writing.

Cheers Elise

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Telling the Bees-Mythology & Folklore

In my book Castle of Dreams I have a short scene where Vivien and Robert discuss bee folklore. Bees are prelevant in mythology and folklore and in my WIP I have created an eight acre orchard and my working farm has beehives. While researching bees I have become fascinated with these mythical insect that are  often thought of as having a direct route to heaven.

Honey Bee

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St. Gobnait

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The Irish saint is known for her care of the sick.Her name is the Irish equivalent of the Hebrew name Deborah, which means ‘Honey Bee.’ She used the properties of honey in the treatment of illness and healing of woundss.

Winter Bees

Bees prepare for winter by gathering a winter reserve of honey.

Honeybees head to the hive when temperatures drop. They have one main job in the winter — to take care of the queen bee. This means they must keep her safe and warm. As the weather becomes cool, the honeybees gather in a central area of the hive and form a ‘winter cluster’. The worker bees then flutter their wings and shiver. This constant motion and continuous use of energy is how the bees keep the inside temperature of the hive warm.

Bee lore, grounded equally in modern science and ancient tradition, is a fascinating study.

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The telling of the bees is a traditional European custom, in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper’s lives, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns in the household. If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not “put into mourning” then it was believed a penalty would be paid, such as the bees might leave their hive, stop producing honey, or die.The custom has been most widely noted in England but also recorded in Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and the United States. (Ref. Wikipedia)

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I admire beautiful book covers and I have sometimes bought a book just for its cover.  Here are a few book covers with images of bees.

Bee Book Covers.

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Have a wonderful week, writing, reading and dreaming.

Cheers Elise

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Thoughts on Writing-Elise McCune

I have been asked to speak to a group of writing students in October and while they will be asking me questions about my writing journey I also want to put together some points for them to consider. This is what I have come up with so far.

1. Read

To be a good writer you must read. Read what you love but also read widely in other genres and other types of writing to find out what you consider good and not so good writing. Read the much maligned historical novel which is linked to the romance novel and then read them too. A friend commented that my own novel Castle of Dreams was not a romance novel but a novel about love. Her comment resonated with me. Some years ago I wrote an outline for a tv series with a friend which was both historical and contemporary. I read other scripts and paid attention to the narrative voice.  People from the past read longer more descriptive novels read these too. Read memoirs, debut novels, and online diaries. You will have moments of self-doubt when you reread what you have written (lots of doubts and often). It’s normal for a writer to feel this way. If you wait for the perfect time to write you won’t start.

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2. Research

For my research I read primary sources like diaries, letters and newspaper reports. I read books written about and of the period I am researching. Trove and Ask a Librarian at the National Library of Australia’s online resources are a valuable source of information. I use Google but online information can be inaccurate so be careful and check more than one source. I use my wonderful local library and inter-library loans for books I don’t necessarily want to keep on my bookshelf or cannot find, and also, I always read bibliographies carefully in each book as they are a source of more information on the subject you are researching and this is something I’m sure most writers would do.

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3. Discipline

An important piece of advice I received early in my writing career was to be disciplined. If you want to finish a novel or any other piece of writing it has to be a priority. Put aside time each day to write. If you watch television use the time to write. Limit the time you spend on social media. A page a day is a novel in a year. Have a professional attitude to writing. Set yourself deadlines.

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4. Inspiration

‘There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it,’ says Gustave Flaubert.

‘Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table,’ says Diane Ackerman. ‘Even a tiny fleck of it stops time.’

Writing is not easy so take the time to find inspiration in the common place and in everyday life. There is a poetic layer of life: look at things with a painters eye. Notice the variation of colour on a single tree leaf, the rainbow in a drop of rain when the sun comes out on a cloudy day, jeweled raindrops on spiders webs and the expression on peoples faces.

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5. Notebooks

I always have a notebook with me. My notebooks are many: some tattered with age, some with exquisite covers, some the red and black chinese notebooks from the newsagent. They are different in size and appearance but they all serve the same purpose: to capture an exquiste moment in time. I also have notebooks to write my research notes in. By the time I finished writing Castle of Dreams I  had ten notebooks of scribbled information that I had used in my story. For my WIP I have read a few books on WW1 and its aftermath.  On  three large sheets of butchers paper I wrote a timeline and described and named characters and wrote background information. I found the outline a little restricting so I’ve  made detours but I go back to it for inspiration. And of course I have a new notebook!

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I read somewhere the most important thing about writing is to write from the soul. I couldn’t have said it better.

Have a great week: writing, reading and finding inspiration in the everyday,

Cheers Elise

 

 

 

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Big Country Book Club-Q & A Elise McCune

‘Smart publishing guru, Bernadette Foley, has come up with a great idea – Big Country Book Club. This is an online book club which you join and buy books from a selected choice of titles made by a publisher and editor who understands books and writing. Plus, it’s like being part of a book club even if you never leave home.’

Di Morrissey, The Manning Community News

Q&A with Elise McCune, author of ‘Castle of Dreams’

June 6, 2016
Castle of Dreams was a May Book of the Month at BCBC. Now its author, Elise McCune, tells us about her writing process, her inspiration and the importance of light as a theme in her novel.

Elise is fascinated by photography, as visitors to her Facebook page will see, and she has illustrated this Q&A with some great images that inspired the characters and places in Castle of Dreams.

1. Before talking about words I would like to ask you about images. Photos seem to be important to you as you create your stories. Is that right?

Yes, I search the Internet for photos of people and places that will be the inspiration for my characters and settings in the novel. I post some of these photos on my Castle of Dreams boards on Pinterest. I also put any relevant photographs at the beginning of the chapter I am working on. Sometimes it might be an historical photograph of some unknown person in a magazine ad or a movie star. I use these photos to bring my characters to life in my mind.

This photo inspired me when I was writing the character of Vivien

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This shot inspired me when I was creating Rose.

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2. Following this idea, what inspired you to make Vivien, one of your leading characters, a photographer? How unusual was that profession for women in her time, just after World War Two?

It was not that unusual. Women have had an active role in photography since its inception. While researching I found that in 1900 British and American censuses women made up almost 20 percent of the profession at a time when it was unusual for women to have a profession.

Many Australian women photographers worked before the Great War and more did hand colouring and darkroom work. At that time it was thought that ‘lady operators’ should only photograph women and families. By WW2 women photographers were working in advertising and portraiture and the worlds of fashion and theatre.

I made Vivien a photographer because I wanted to have a motif of light through the story. The American soldier is named Robert Shine and the rainforest is lit with filtered light and the sparkling glitter ball that hangs from the ceiling in the castle’s ballroom showers the dancers with light. There are many references to light in the story.

3. Where did you begin with this novel? With the characters? An idea about secrets, or a sense of place and Castillo de Sueños in particular?

The seed of the idea for Castle of Dreams came to me when I visited the ruins of a castle in the rainforest at Paronella Park with my daughter and the little ones in our family. It’s a beautiful place and while it didn’t come to me straightaway as these things sometimes don’t, I started to imagine what secrets those old ruins might hold and wonder about the people who had once lived there. So it was a sense of place and the ruins at Paronella Park that were the inspiration for my story.

4. How important was it for you to visit the castle in North Queensland to help the writing?

It was very important to have visited the castle ruins and when I discovered that the American servicemen who were stationed in the area during the Pacific War came out to the castle for Saturday night dances and for recreation I had another link to my story.

The falls and pool at Paronella Park. PHOTO: Luke Griffin, Deisel Photography.

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5. The historical accuracy in Castle of Dreams is so important and you have achieved it beautifully. Can you tell us about your approach to research?

Firstly, I had a wonderful friend in Luke Evans. Luke’s parents own Paronella Park and he happily answered my many questions about the history of the castle.

I also read primary sources: diaries, letters and newspaper reports. I read fiction and non-fiction books written about and of the period. I love Trove and Ask a Librarian, an online resource at the National Library of Australia. I use Google but online information can be inaccurate so I always check it carefully from more than one source. I use my wonderful local library and inter-library loans for books I don’t necessarily want to keep on my bookshelf or cannot find, and I always read bibliographies carefully in each book as they are a source of more information. I also talk to experts in any particular area I am researching.

The ruins of Paronella Park, North Queensland. PHOTO used with the permission of Luke Evans.

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6. Your dedication to your writing is inspiring. What was your writing process for Castle of Dreams?

I woke early and checked emails and then tried to be at my desk and writing by 9.00am. I usually wrote for three hours and this produced a thousand words or so. I could then get on with the rest of my day. In the evening I’d do some research or answer emails. This was the first draft; I had to spend more time on future drafts and I checked all my research again. I found that when I was editing Castle of Dreams I had to make it a priority and spent many more hours at the computer. For months I didn’t watch television or socialise often, although I did make time to exercise. I found this routine worked well for me.

7. How has this process evolved for you?

I have three books in the bottom drawer and with each finished manuscript I discovered ways to make the writing process easier. For me the perfect day is one where I write in the morning and later do some form of exercise: walking, swimming or yoga. This leaves me time to live my life by going to the movies or out to dinner with friends. But, of course, life gets in the way and when it does I just throw my routine out the window.

8. Your novel is set in two periods – during and immediately after WW2 and in the present. What are the difficulties and delights of writing a novel structured in this way?

I love to read books that are structured this way so I guess that’s why I enjoy writing them. With Castle of Dreams I should have had a timeline printed out and a floor plan of any dwellings that both my WW2 characters and my present day characters use. I got it right in the end but would have saved time in the writing of the novel to have these to check back on during the writing process and also in the editing stage.

9. This is your first published book; did anything about the publishing process surprise you?

It is such a learning process and so interesting. If I had known about the publishing world as a young woman I would have wanted to be a publisher. Because I didn’t know what to expect nothing surprised me. I consider my publishers are the experts and hopefully I can learn from them and I have asked lots of questions.

10. What advice would you give emerging writers?

Never ever give up. I have three books in the bottom drawer, my apprentice books I call them, and every one of them taught me something. If you don’t have time to write a novel then write short stories, or a blog, or write reviews about other books. Writing should not be at the bottom of a long list of ‘to do’ things, it should be near the top. Treat it like a job, even a part-time job, and not a hobby. Set goals. Those first words are the hardest part. Then rewrite.

Thanks, Bernadette, for having me speak about my writing process on Big Country Book Club.

Thank you for the Q&A and your fabulous novel, Elise

Castle of Dreams by Elise McCune is published by Allen & Unwin

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Castle of Dreams – Reviews

A poignant, luminous novel about two sisters, about a mother and daughter, a loved granddaughter, the past that separates them and the healing that comes with forgiveness.

If you love secrets and how they impact on the present you will love Castle of Dreams and the Blake sisters’ Vivien and Rose, and Captain Robert Shine, an American soldier stationed in Brisbane during the Pacific War. And there is Australian soldier, Dave Bailey, mechanic and all round good guy, Ruby who reads the tarot, William who lost a leg at Fromelles and wears an artificial one and Harry who owns Castillo de Suenos. And in the modern day narrative, Stella a photographer and the daughter of Linda and granddaughter of Rose, and Jack, Stella’s boyfriend, who is a journalist. It is a story that brings alive the war years and how secrets from the past can always be discovered if you care to search for them.

Castle of Dreams has had some great reviews, here are a few of them:

Beneath the stunning tropical themed cover of this beautiful book, lies a wonderful multi layered and complex historical romance, fused with a contemporary narrative. Castle of Dreams is the story of two sisters, Vivien and Rose and their experiences in Australia during the Second World War era. Tied to this wartime story is that of their granddaughter/great niece Stella, who seeks to uncover a shroud of secrets that surround her grandmother. Set in the tranquil and tropical locale of far north Queensland, in the grounds of a Spanish style castle, this is a remarkable spilt style narrative of the lives, loves and family secrets of the two Blake sisters.
I had an immediate feeling when I bought this book that I was absolutely going to love it. I simply cannot resist novels that combine a contemporary narrative with an historical fiction story, particularly if it is set in Australia. Castle of Dreams successfully weaves intrigue, ancestral secrets, love and history perfectly together.
I enjoyed following the journey of each of the characters in this novel, from the two Blake sisters in the wartime – their complications as well as the twists and turns their lives take. McCune has constructed characters that are likeable, relatable and have interesting stories to match.
There are some fantastic themes running through this book that McCune tackles with precision and insight. It was fascinating to learn about the Australia during wartime. It is clear that McCune has drawn from a variety of sources to inform her narrative. McCune sensitively and comprehensively covers such topics as PTSD in returned soldiers, the treatment of American troops in Australia and Australia’s involvement in the war in the Pacific region. She also portrays very accurately the societal expectations of the time. The final result is a novel that is finely in tune with the era in which it is depicting.
The setting in Castle of Dreams is simply magical. There is an ethereal quality about the beautiful Castillo de Suenos, which plays as a major centrepiece in the novel. I looked forward to the scenes that featured this lavish locale and found myself keen on researching more about ‘Paronella Park’, which was the muse for Castillo de Suenos. McCune compliments her descriptions of Castillo de Suenos with prose on the surrounding flora and fauna, which gives the reader a wonderful distinct picture of life in this part of Australia.
Castle of Dreams is a novel that I simply just could not resist putting down. I read it in two days. The latter part of the novel ensured that I was unable to stop turning the pages until the secrets of the Blake sisters were uncovered. When I reached the conclusion I felt a mixture of sadness and happiness in how the characters end up.
Castle of Dreams is a spellbinding and magical novel that illustrates the power of long held family secrets. Castle of Dreams is easily a five star read for me, it is the type of book that I am going to pass on to as many readers as I can as I adored it.
Amanda Barrett-#162 Goodreads reviewer.

Castle of Dreams is immersive and charming and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended!
Cecilia Dart-Thornton – Best Selling Author

Elise McCune is a born storyteller. I admire Elise enormously as she has put in the hard yards as a writer. Castle of Dreams, dances, strides and runs off the page in the most satisfying way. Readers will wish her next book was already published so they could pick it up as soon as they have finished Castle of Dreams.
Berndadette Foley-Big Country Book Club

I adored reading Castle of Dreams by Elise McCune. The pretty cover depicts the story that lies inside; a historical novel partially set during World War 11 in Australia’s tropical north Queensland. A beautiful rainforest castle, provides the perfect, almost magical, setting for this delightful narrative to unfold.

Natalie-ann De Grouchy, Goodreads reviewer

The characters are drawn in such a way as to make me feel I knew them; I cared about them and felt the emotions they were feeling. A totally fascinating and absorbing debut by this author and one I highly recommend.
Brenda Telford-Amazon reviewer.

The many stories that intertwined to bring one big family secret out have you gripping to see what comes next. It was very hard to put down, beautifully written and set in Queensland.
Tianne Shaw-Goodreads Reviewer

I really enjoyed reading this novel and discovering the secrets, lies and loves of the main characters. The authors description of Castillo de Suenos was magical. I was lucky enough to visit Paronella Park, which was the inspiration for the Castillo de Suenos, a few years ago and the authors description took me back to this wonderful place. I was getting a little confused towards the end of the novel and had to reread a couple of passages but in the end it all made sense. If you have been to Paronella Park it’s worth a read and if you haven’t been it’s still worth a read. Great book.
Maria-Goodreads Reviewer

I have just finished reading Elise McCune’s Castle of Dreams novel which I recently won a copy of thanks to Allen and Unwin and Goodreads. It was a captivating novel spanning decades. The picturesque images and characters portrayed by this author (which amazingly is her first published) set in far north Queensland’s rainforest region and begins about the time of the Second World War held many secrets dramas and loves lost and reclaimed and showed the importance of family. I loved it my favourite book this year. I can’t wait for her next book. Thanks again for picking me as a winner.
Janet Ryan-Allen and Unwin Facebook page

To be honest, it took me a while to get into this book – I’m not a fan of overly long descriptions. However, once the secrets started unravelling, I could not put it down.
As a Queenslander, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes set during WWII. I must admit I didn’t know Australian men were so hostile to the American soldiers and am a little ashamed to be honest. I also plan to put Paronella Park, located near Cairns–which is the real life inspiration for the castle referred to in the book–on my long list of places I want to visit.
Castle of Dreams is an impressive debut. Enjoy!
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5). A copy of “Castle of Dreams” was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
Reviewer: JP Combe

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

I am so pleased that readers are enjoying Castle of Dreams.

The Blake sisters’ Vivien and Rose, Captain Robert Shine, an American soldier stationed in Brisbane during the Pacific War, Dave Bailey, mechanic and all round good guy, Ruby who reads the tarot, William who lost a leg at Fromelles and wears an artificial one and Harry who owns the castle.  And in the modern day narrative, Stella  a photographer and the daughter of Linda and granddaughter of Rose, and Jack, Stella’s boyfriend  who is a journalist; if they stepped through the front door this evening I’d know them.

I love montage photos so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you.

Elvis-and-Marilyn-Double-Exposure

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Have a lovely evening,

Elise

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What Elise Wrote-Review Castle of Dreams

Amanda Barrett wrote a wonderful review of Castle of Dreams on Goodreads. Amanda is a top reviewer on Goodreads so her review was very special to me. Thanks Amanda!

Amanda Barrett ’s review:

Beneath the stunning tropical themed cover of this beautiful book, lies a wonderful multi layered and complex historical romance, fused with a contemporary narrative. Castle of Dreams is the story of two sisters, Vivien and Rose and their experiences in Australia during the Second World War era. Tied to this wartime story is that of their granddaughter/great niece Stella, who seeks to uncover a shroud of secrets that surround her grandmother. Set in the tranquil and tropical locale of far north Queensland, in the grounds of a Spanish style castle, this is a remarkable spilt style narrative of the lives, loves and family secrets of the two Blake sisters.
I had an immediate feeling when I bought this book that I was absolutely going to love it. I simply cannot resist novels that combine a contemporary narrative with a historical fiction story particularly if it is set in Australia. Castle of Dreams successfully weaves intrigue, ancestral secrets, love and history perfectly together.
I enjoyed following the journey of each of the characters in this novel, from the two Blake sisters in the wartime – their complications as well as the twists and turns their lives take. McCune has constructed characters that are likeable, relatable and have interesting stories to match.
There are some fantastic themes running through this book that McCune tackles with precision and insight. It was fascinating to learn about the Australia during wartime. It is clear that McCune has drawn from a variety of sources to inform her narrative. McCune sensitively and comprehensively covers such topics as PTSD in returned soldiers, the treatment of American troops in Australia and Australia’s involvement in the war in the Pacific region. She also portrays very accurately the societal expectations of the time. The final result is a novel that is finely in tune with the era in which it is depicting.
The setting in Castle of Dreams is simply magical. There is an ethereal quality about the beautiful Castillo de Suenos, which plays as a major centrepiece in the novel. I looked forward to the scenes that featured this lavish locale and found myself keen on researching more about ‘Paronella Park’, which was the muse for Castillo de Suenos. McCune compliments her descriptions of Castillo de Suenos with prose on the surrounding flora and fauna, which gives the reader a wonderful distinct picture of life in this part of Australia.
Castle of Dreams is a novel that I simply just could not resist putting down. I read it in two days. The latter part of the novel ensured that I was unable to stop turning the pages until the secrets of the Blake sisters were uncovered. When I reached the conclusion I felt a mixture of sadness and happiness in how the characters end up.
Castle of Dreams is a spellbinding and magical novel that illustrates the power of long held family secrets. Castle of Dreams is easily a five star read for me, it is the type of book that I am going to pass on to as many readers as I can as I adored it.

What a wonderful tribute to Castle of Dreams!

Elise

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