Mirta Ines Trupp is a member of the Austen Authors group I admin, along with Sharon Lathan. Her Austen tales come from a totally different perspective from the majority of that group, for Ms. Trupp adds her Jewish roots to each tale, so we see the Regency society from those outside the landed gentry. Please welcome Mirta Ines Trupp.
First, tell us a bit about yourself. From where do you come? Past jobs, awards, the usual bio stuff.
Thank you, Regina, for hosting this interview. I am excited and flattered to share a little bit about myself with your audience. Where do you come from is a loaded question for me! I was born in Buenos Aires although my roots are from Imperial Russia. My grandparents immigrated as children, along with their parents and siblings, escaping persecution and the pogroms so common in the Pale of Settlement. In the early 1960s, my father decided it was time to leave Argentina due to political and economic reasons, and we were fortunate enough to immigrate to the United States of America. For the most part, I was raised in California—although I traveled back and forth to my native country constantly due to my father’s employment with Pan American Airlines. My husband and I were blessed with three children; and for the better part of their youth, I was a stay-at-home-mom. I began writing late in life as an empty-nester, although I have always had a penchant for the craft. There is never enough time for all my little projects, what with a full-time job and being a wife and mother; but my books have been well received, having earned positive reviews and ratings and several “indie-author” awards along the way. I look forward to retiring soon and being able to read and write to my heart’s desire!
What’s the craziest, bravest, or stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
A few years back, I wrote a novel entitled Destiny by Design ~ Leah’s Journey. The story follows an aristocratic family from Imperial Russia to Argentina. Yes, you’ve guessed it. The narrative is loosely based on my own family’s experiences; however, my ancestors were not aristocrats and the story was thoroughly inspired by Jane Austen’s work. One day, I received a message via my Goodreads account. A lovely lady wrote to congratulate me on my new book. She explained that she was the chairwoman of a charitable organization that was planning a guided tour of Buenos Aires, focusing in particular on the Jewish immigrant experience. We continued corresponding via email, while she explained what she was trying to accomplish. Her group was going to visit national sites, important synagogues and meet with the Israeli ambassador in Buenos Aires. She also wanted to organize a Meet and Greet with an Argentine-Jewish author. She asked me if I knew of anyone who would be interested. I indicated that I would ask my family if they knew anyone. She wrote back in bold letters: NO SILLY, I MEAN YOU! Do you want to go to Argentina? So, I guess the craziest thing I have ever done was accepting a plane ticket from a complete stranger. And I’m so glad I did! It was a freeing and fulfilling experience.
What do you write? You’re welcome to include your latest title (shameless plug).
My first book was a Creative non-fiction. I had fifty years of material and had had much experience explaining my unique childhood, my ethnicity, my heritage and my whirl-wind, intercontinental romance. I was inspired by old films and books like I Remember Mama and Little Women (that part when Professor Bhaer advices Jo to write about her life and her surroundings) and that’s when I was bitten by the writing bug! I have always been a great reader of historical fiction, but I was most attracted to the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian eras. There was just one problem. Whether I was reading a classic work or light romance, there was no mention of the Jewish community. And if, by chance, the author did include a Jewish character, I found the portrayal to be a demeaning caricature. I took matters into my own hands and decided to write Jewish historical fiction with an emphasis on clean, light material. I have written two novels which are based on my family’s immigration experiences. These are set in the Victorian/Edwardian eras—one actually has a time-traveling element to the story. The next book to follow was set in the Regency era and is a Pride and Prejudice continuation. I introduced a rabbi and his family into the storyline, as well as some espionage and historical data relating to Wellington’s victory in his Peninsular campaign. My newest project is also a Jewish historical fiction set in the Regency era and is entitled, Celestial Persuasion. Although it is a stand-alone novel, it may be considered a prequel to Austen’s Persuasion.
What difficulties does writing this genre present?
If you do an Internet search for Jewish historical fiction, you will find a plethora of titles. These, for the most part, will deal with the Holocaust or possibly the Spanish Inquisition. In addition to these, you’ll come across biblical narratives. Possibly the one novel that stands out is Daniel Deronda by George Eliot, but otherwise a reader is left wanting in a sea of dark, heavy or academic themes. I wanted to marry my two passions: Period Dramas and Judaica. I wanted to present light, entertaining stories that highlighted the Jewish community in my target eras. There were Jewish aristocrats! The Rothschilds, the Montefiores, the Mocattas, the Brodskys, the Gunzburgs…well, you understand my point. These prominent families intermingled with their Anglican counterparts. They attended soirées, routs, and balls. They formed part of an elite society. Of course, there were still others that lived in different economic spheres: the middle class and those who lived in relative poverty.
I feel strongly about writing stories that showcase a different sort of Jew, someone other than the stereotypical character Dickens or Heyer have provided us. The difficulties in writing such stories are many, but they are not insurmountable. I don’t want to come across “preachy” or write of things that are so foreign that the reader cannot engage with the character. I also don’t want to alienate the Orthodox Jew by writing characters that do not practice the religion with their same fervor. On the other side of the coin, I don’t want to alienate the modern or Reform Jew by writing characters that do not represent their experience! In the end, I have to write to please myself and hope that the story can hold its own.
Tell us about your new release.
While I fashioned the storyline to be a prequel to Austen’s Persuasion, there is so much more to this book! Celestial Persuasion is set against the backdrop of Argentina’s struggle for independence. As fans of the Regency era, we are well versed in the Napoleonic Wars. We understand that the whole of Europe was impacted by these conflicts. But there were other battles being fought around the world. My story will take the reader from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere, where the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata was living in its own Regency era. In preparing to write the story, I discovered the history of Lord Duff, the Fourth Earl of Fife and his patronage of José de San Martín, Argentina’s famed liberator. I discovered socialite Mariquita Sanchez de Thompson, a woman whose path to the marital state was so complex and filled with angst, it reminded me of Anne Elliot’s tribulations. Celestial Persuasion introduces Miss Abigail Isaacs—a young lady long considered past her last prayers—to these real-life national heroes.
Abigail is the daughter of a country doctor. A rational creature, she dreams of following in the footsteps of her heroine, Caroline Herschel, and submitting her discoveries to the Royal Astronomical Society. Her brother, Jonathan, is a physician and has been at sea with Captain Wentworth for many years. When tragedy strikes, Abigail is contacted by the good captain and is instructed to meet with Lord Fife in London. Unbeknownst to her, Jonathan Isaacs had been secretly involved with the Spanish Americans in their fight for freedom. It is Lord Fife that presents Abigail with a new trajectory that will lead her away from Exeter—and from all of her aspirations—to the shores of Buenos Aires.
Share a quirky fact from your research.
Mariquita Sanchez was part of the Spanish colonial elite of Buenos Aires. At the age of fifteen, her parents demanded she marry well-to-do Diego del Arco, but Mariquita had fallen in love with a distant cousin— Martín Thompson, a poor naval officer. Now, I don’t want to give anything away. Her true story is stranger—and more romantic—than fiction! In the end, Mariquita weds and becomes a leading patriot in the Viceroyalty. She became famous for her salonnières, hosting the leading authors, artisans, and celebrities of her time. In my research, I discovered a painting of one of her salons. Seeing the ladies in their Regency gowns along with the handsome naval officers, provided me with the inspiration for my book! According to history, the Argentine National Anthem was sung for the first time in Mariquita’s home on May 14, 1813.
What other books (either fiction or nonfiction) could you recommend?
This is a wonderful question, Regina. In keeping with the theme of Argentina, I would recommend two very different novels. The first is Barbara Cartland’s The Tears of Love. The author sets an alluring stage, elaborating on the beauty and glamour of Buenos Aires—the Paris of South America—and expands upon the European influence on architecture and industrial advancements. I enjoyed the storyline, the independent, strong heroine and absolutely LOVED the explanation of the title, but I won’t ruin it for you with spoilers! You’ll have to read it for yourself. The romance, music, and cuisine; the customs and costumes; the gauchos and the politics of the day…it was all perfectly satisfying.
The second novel is the complete opposite of light, clean, easy reading. The Reason for Wings, by Joyce Reiser Kornblatt is a must read. The author spans across generations and continents through the lives of mothers and daughters: Reba and Sonia, Sonia and Rachael, Rachael and Miriam and finally, Miriam and Marcella. With resplendent imagery and a brilliant use of history, the author leads us through their tragic and bittersweet lives. Leaving not one emotion untouched, Kornblatt allowed me to live fully and absolutely with these women, to grieve, to rejoice, to struggle, to exalt and to decry—so completely did I identify with them. This is a painful story, but it is not without hope and therein lies the beauty of the narrative- for whenever a people have been beaten and nearly destroyed, it has been their will to protect their children, their struggle for freedom, their resiliency… their faith that has given wings to their hope. (“You, yourselves, have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle wings and brought you to Me.” [Exodus 19:4]) I can’t recommend this book enough.
I want to thank you once again for this opportunity, Regina. I hope to have enticed your audience to join me on this journey to new lands, new adventures, and a new romance. Celestial Persuasion will be available on Amazon in both digital and print formats. Arriving soon on June 30, 2021!
PreOrder Celestial Persuasion HERE:
Abigail Isaacs fears ever again falling under the power of love and dedicates her life to studying the heavens. However, upon her father’s demise she finds herself in reduced circumstances and must write to her brother, who has long been away at sea. When instead Captain Wentworth of the HMS Laconia sends a tragic reply, Abigail is asked to set aside her own ambitions and fulfill her brother’s dreams in the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata.
In his relentless pursuit for justice, Lieutenant Raphael Gabay lends his sword to the Spanish American cause. But as he prepares to set sail with the others, he is entrusted with the care of a young woman. She is quite unlike anyone he has ever known, and Raphael wonders whether the brilliant astronomer will see beyond his frivolous façade and recognize his true nature.
Their destinies have been plotted beyond the celestial veil; their charts foretell of adventure. Can these two troubled souls be persuaded to heed the stars and find love—and their purpose—in this fledgling nation?
Captain Wentworth returned to his ship, and nary a crewman offered more than a silent salute as the ship’s commander stormed to his quarters. Every man, from first lieutenant to cabin boy and everyone in between, had seen that look on their captain’s face before. They knew better than to engage him when he was clearly consumed with a task that required his full attention.
He crossed the upper deck and descended the companionway before briefly saluting the marine sentry posted at his door. Cursing, he threw his hat across the room and roughly removed his coat. Normally controlled and reserved, the captain allowed himself a moment to release his frustration Truth be told, he was more than frustrated. He was angry. Angry with Captain Lawrence for his flagrant abuse of power. Angry with the Admiralty for turning a blind eye to rogue and lawless officers. Angry with the helpless situations in which young women found themselves when their menfolk’s choices went awry. He could not help himself and thought of Anne. Would the pain ever subside? Would he be able to set aside the rejection and rally again?
Throwing himself into his chair, uncharacteristically without ceremony or care, Captain Wentworth grimaced at the task before him. He must write to Isaacs’s sister. He—of all men—would have to lay out a new trajectory for her and pray she would comply with the plans he proposed. The captain reached for a nearby bottle of spirits and poured the amber liquid into a crystal glass. He swilled the contents down in one gulp, feeling only the burning sensation as it glided down his throat. The feeling was welcome. Considering what was required of him now left a worse taste in his mouth than the fiery rum. Captain Wentworth could not deny that he was now in the position of having to persuade a young lady to alter the course of her life. Of all things, he despised the thought of manipulating someone by playing on their respect for his rank and command. And again he thought of Anne. She too had been young and naïve in the ways of the world and had allowed someone she trusted to guide her. To guide her in such a way as to lead her away from him.
He took another swallow of courage and thought now of Miss Abigail Isaacs. Throughout their friendship and time at sea, Jonathan had spoken of her often and had provided some of the essentials—she seemed quite unlike other young ladies. But then again, were not all young ladies easily persuaded?
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