James Tipton has taught writing and literature at various schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, including University of California at Davis. His love of French culture stems from his year of teaching English at the University of Bourdeaux. He was born in raised in Berkeley, CA and now lives in Marin County, CA with his family. He has published a collection of poetry and is an avid musician. This is his first novel.
This debut novel by a literature teacher relates the romance between English poet William Wordsworth and Annette Vallon, his French mistress, about whom little is actually known. Tipton attempts to fill in the blanks, exploring Annette's early life and first meeting with Wordsworth and following their relationship through the French Revolution and beyond. An exciting enough premise, but the key to strong historical fiction is rich characterization and stirring description; Tipton's effort, unfortunately, falls flat. The war is largely relegated to the background, presented with surprisingly little fanfare or drama; its existence is used only as a convenient means of separating the lovers. Further, while the romance between Vallon and Wordsworth is meant to be the main focus here, it is too often eclipsed by a love for Wordsworth's poetry and Anglo-French linguistics, presumably the author's own passion. While fans of Wordsworth's poetry will find much to love here, few others will find anything to hold their interest. Recommended only where literary fiction is popular.-Leigh Wright, New Brunswick, NJ Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Inspired by English poet William Wordsworth's continental romance on the eve of the French Revolution, Tipton's debut novel depicts the poet's lover, Annette Vallon (1766-1841), as a Loire Valley Scarlet Pimpernel. History records Wordsworth met Vallon while in France, departed for England when the revolution darkened, but came back to see her and their daughter, Caroline (born in 1792), even after he proposed marriage to an Englishwoman. Tipton begins this fictional account with 16-year-old Annette listening to her father and Thomas Jefferson discuss wine. Six years later, her virtue lost to a dance tutor and her father killed in a grain riot, Annette falls in love with the then unknown English poet. Their idyllic interlude inspires his best work, but soon his political associations place him in danger, forcing him to flee with Annette's help. Pregnant and on her own, Annette recalls early training in hunting and horsemanship to survive the Reign of Terror and beyond, with Caroline in tow. Tipton's descriptions, a la Tracy Chevalier, of how masterpieces are created alternate with the spirited heroine's adventures, making for an uneasy balance, but Annette-and those who help her along the way-are believable in their struggles through the best and the worst of times. (Nov.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"A romance novel, an adventure novel and a concise history of the French Revolution all in one."--Chicago Tribune