Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Janet Skeslien Charles played her CARDS right...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I am thrilled to have Janet Skeslien Charles back at CLC today. We first connected in 2010, when she published Moonlight in Odessa. I really enjoyed that novel and was waiting a long time (11 years!) for her to publish another one. She finally delivered a few years ago with The Paris Library, which was also a winner for me. Thankfully, I only had to wait about three years this time, to get a chance to read her latest historical fiction novel, Miss Morgan's Book Brigade. I gave that five stars, as well! Check out my review. Janet is always kind and lovely to chat with, and I hope you will enjoy our interview. Thanks to Janet, we have one copy of Miss Morgan's Book Brigade for a lucky reader!

Janet Skeslien Charles is a New York Times and international bestselling author whose work has been translated into 37 languages. Her shorter work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Montana Noir. Originally from Montana, she lives in Paris, where she is working on the final installment of her library trilogy.

Visit Janet online:

1918: As the Great War rages, Jessie Carson takes a leave of absence from the New York Public Library to work for the American Committee for Devastated France. Founded by millionaire Anne Morgan, this group of international women help rebuild destroyed French communities just miles from the front. Upon arrival, Jessie strives to establish something that the French have never seen—children’s libraries. She turns ambulances into bookmobiles and trains the first French female librarians. Then she disappears.

1987: When NYPL librarian and aspiring writer Wendy Peterson stumbles across a passing reference to Jessie Carson in the archives, she becomes consumed with learning her fate. In her obsessive research, she discovers that she and the elusive librarian have more in common than their work at New York’s famed library, but she has no idea their paths will converge in surprising ways across time.

Based on the extraordinary little-known history of the women who received the Croix de Guerre medal for courage under fire, Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, the power of literature, and ultimately the courage it takes to make a change. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

Praise for Janet's previous novel:
“As a Parisian, an ardent bookworm, and a longtime fan of the American Library in Paris, I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp. It is charming and moving, with a perfect balance between history and fiction.” 
—Tatiana de Rosnay, New York Times bestselling author of Sarah's Key

“A fresh take on WWII France that will appeal to bibliophiles everywhere…an irresistible, compelling read.” 
—Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

“Well-researched, stirring, and rich with detail, The Paris Library is an ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both.” 
—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names

What is one thing you would tell the debut novelist version of yourself?
I’m lucky that I had the best possible experience for my debut. I was able to celebrate with friends and family as well as do lots of readings, book club visits, and other events. I received many letters and emails from fans and loved meeting people through our shared love of books.

Back then, in early social media times, I didn’t know much about the business of publishing, so I didn’t feel the pressures that debut authors feel today. I would tell any debut author to enjoy the moment and to celebrate the accomplishment of having their work out in the world.

Who are you more similar to from your novel, Jessie or Wendy?

Here in France, one of the hardships that Jessie faced was that she did not have the same social network as her colleagues, who came from wealthy families. These women often received visits from friends and family and were able to travel back home. Jessie came from more humble beginnings, and I really feel for her. She was very alone, and when she travelled to France, she did not see family for a long time. I can understand how she felt, because during Covid, I was unable to travel to see loved ones, and it was very painful.

If Miss Morgan's Book Brigade were made into a movie, what are some songs that would be on the soundtrack?
Such a good question. I would love to hear some Zaz. Here she is singing an Edith Piaf classic with a little more optimism than the original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydtryV65UGk

What is your favorite children's book?
I discovered Anne of Green Gables as an adult, and I absolutely love it. In researching Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade, I read or re-read children’s books from that era. It was surprising to see how tragic they were. So many characters had lost parents.

If we were to visit you right now, what places would you take us to see?

We would definitely visit the Franco-American museum in Blérancourt. During World War I, the grounds of the crumbling chateau were the headquarters of the American Committee for Devastated France, known as CARD. After the war, Anne Morgan bought it and created the museum. Over the years, it has been renovated and celebrates Franco-American friendship as well as the work of the volunteers of CARD.

Then we would have a fabulous lunch at the Hostellerie le Griffon.

If your life was a TV series, which celebrity would you want to narrate it?
The first person who popped into my mind was Candice Bergen! But I think I would want to narrate it myself. I had a great time recording the Author’s Note for The Paris Library, and I definitely want to do more audio work. 

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

Thanks to Janet for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

Giveaway ends May 5th at midnight EST.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.

Listen to this book on Speechify!


holdenj said...

I liked Anne of Green Gables and my mom grew up reading Betsy Tacy, so I did too!

Padmini Rao said...

I loved Charlotte’s Web

Rita Wray said...

I loved the book Heidi.

traveler said...

My favorite book when I was young was Anne of Green Gables. I read the entire series in hardcover borrowed from the public library.

Carla S. said...

I loved Little Women.

Carla S. said...

I loved Little Women.

Toni Laliberte said...

My favorite children's book is The Secret Garden

Lindsey said...

My favorite children's books because I cannot choose just one are the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.

Mary C said...

Pippi Longstocking

Michael Law said...

My favorite book was Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

Darla Kidder said...

My favorite was Green Eggs and Ham

Lisa D said...

I love the Mog the Cat series of books by Judith Kerr.

Suburban prep said...

I was big into the Little House on the Prairie books.

Elle said...

My favorite was Wednesday is Spaghetti Day.

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite was Alice in Wonderland.

Mary Preston said...


Nancy P said...

Moved a lot & wasn't allowed to have many, so the first thing I did was find the library when we stayed somewhere a while. I devoured everything. Charlotte's Web, Little House on the Prairie, more.

diannekc said...

Little Women

Susan A Roberts said...

Little Women

bn100 said...

cat in the hat

Xia Lee said...

Green Eggs and Ham