I have finished reading Cut from the Earth by Stephanie Renee Dos Santos (The Tile Maker series Book 1). Last week I mentioned that Ms. Dos Santos is from South America but it turns out I am wrong on that score. She’s a “native of the United States” but has lived in other countries, gaining first-hand experience with various cultures. That makes two authors I have mistaken as from other countries than mine. But the stories have been good, so I’ll share this one with you as well.
The story is written from multiple points of view (POVs), giving both male and female perspectives on events in the 1750s in Lisbon. In particular, the story focuses on the aftermath of a massive earthquake in November 1755. So much so that I found myself thinking of the story as a disaster movie/book. The author spent many chapters on how the characters dealt with struggling back to some kind of normalcy after devastating loss and destruction.
While the main thread of the story is about how a tile making shop owners use their income to free slaves by purchasing them from their masters, I found myself more intrigued by a separate, more subtle theme.
Throughout the story, the main characters—there are three of them: Padre Peros; Rafa; and Phaulina—all reflect on the source of their inspiration to create designs for the tiles. Through their eyes, I could see how they used their unique view of the world around them, the details others may not notice, to combine into a design, a picture, a texture. I found myself recalling the number of times I’ve been asked as a writer of fiction where I get my ideas. My best answer is from the world around me. Newspaper articles, news articles on the TV, history books, even other books and the movies I enjoy. All provide tidbits of ideas that I then piece together, like using bits of glass to create a mosaic, fashioning a new story to share with my readers. In Cut from the Earth, Dos Santos has done the same thing through her characters. Illuminated the process of inspiration and how it leads to creation.
The story was well written, and definitely researched into the finer details of tile making in the 18th century. I could quibble with some of the typos and editorial errors I spotted here and there, but the story taught me a lot about Lisbon in the 1750s. (Seeing surface errors like that is an editor’s skill and bane all at once! Skill when editing someone else’s work; bane when simply trying to read for enjoyment.) I don’t believe I’ve read any other stories set in Portugal, come to think of it.
When I embarked on my literary journey around the world, at least as far as location if not author origin, I hadn’t anticipated how much I’d learn. I’ll have to compile a list of everything I’ve learned through this endeavor as a wrap up post when I finish my tour. That and a list of all of the blog posts in order in case you missed any of them.
So, what’s up next you may be asking… I’ve selected a title I’ve heard about but haven’t read yet. And I’ve verified that the author is not from the USA, too. <grin> I’m going to start The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch, who was born in Hobart, Australia. It’s an award-winning book, so I’m curious to find out what I learn from reading it…
Be sure to check out the first book in my American Revolution historical romance series, which is discounted this month. I did a lot of research before writing that series, including a couple of trips to Charleston, South Carolina, to do some in-person exploring. More info is below.
P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!
Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.
On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!
As the American Revolution drags on, Charles Town, South Carolina, remains under siege by the British, and one woman’s father is determined to marry her off to a suspected traitor. Emily Sullivan is beset from all sides but vows to fight her own war for independence.
Frank Thomson walks a fine line between spying for the Americans and being a perceived loyalist traitor. Posing as a simple printer of broadsheets and pamphlets, he sends crucial encrypted intelligence to the general camped outside of town. But when Frank learns Emily has been imprisoned by the enemy, he risks his own life, freedom, and heart for hers.