Friday, 24 May 2019

Another kind review

What a beautifully written and clever way of documenting family history through an easy-read fiction story. The author imagines what her grandmother’s life was like and includes pictures that I assume are old family photos throughout the book. The entire book is compiled of letters that Violet writes to her family and friends. When I first started reading, I wondered if the letters would be tedious after awhile but they are so well-written that they capture your interest through the entire book. It was such a unique and interesting way to share Violet’s story. I found her life relatable even across generations because she traveled to a different country to study at the age of 16 which is something that I also did. This book inspired me to want to write about my experiences and my family’s history too. There are sequels to this story go into Violet’s later years after marriage and I hope to read those as well. Very fascinating reading. Well done Mary Hughes!
Brooke Bent, author of “If You Wake with the Stars”

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Beta Readers Wanted

I'm working on fine-tuning Part Two of The Violet Trilogy -  called Imagining Violet Married and I would sincerely appreciate some beta reading of some of it, or lots of it. I need input regarding continuity - as there are likely references in Part Two that need explanation; that might be meaningless to someone who has not read the first book. And I think Imagining Violet Married needs to stand on its own.

Any other observations, criticisms and comments will be welcome.

If you would be willing to help out by reading 25 pages or more, please contact me at or my usual email address if you have it.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Imagining Violet now an E-Book

Hello friends,

I am pleased to announce the publication of my novel Imagining Violet as an E-book.

It's available at for $3.99 or $2.99 US at

One reviewer, Pauline Sugar of wrote: This was amazing and fantastic and I really enjoyed it! This is a work of historical fiction which draws a lot of inspiration from actual events. … Although the story is set in the 19th century, it feels natural. Another great thing about this book is that unlike other “letter novels”, you actually understand the plot. Even though you only get to read one side of the story, namely Violet’s, it is still incredibly easy to imagine what all the other characters are feeling and their distinct personalities.

Written as a series of letters to friends and family, the book is also available as a paperback for $20 plus $5 postage from Amazon, or with the Order Form on this website.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Another Interview - this one with Wayne Turmel

A Young Girl and Her Violin

with Mary Hughes

(Interview with Wayne Turmel, Author of Acre's Bastards and Acre's Orphans – posted 16 April 2019)

Historical fiction often deals with big themes: war, politics, violence and upheaval. But no matter the time period, there were also individuals living fascinating lives out of the view of most. These little stories can be as interesting, involving and intriguing as anything else. Mary Hughes took the story of a young woman with a dream to learn music in pre-WW1 Germany and turned it into “Imagining Violet.”

Mary, what’s your story and how did you come to be a writer?
I live on a beautiful small island off the west coast of Canada. Salt Spring Island, population around 10,000, is an amazing place to grow live, with its healthy moderate climate, a strong culture of volunteerism and an extraordinary enthusiasm for the arts. There are 117 writers here and just as many potters and painters.

Saltspring is a truly amazing place, and not for nothing it’s the home of my friend Howard Busgang’s deli, Buzzy’s Luncheonette so if you’re jonesing for Montreal smoked meat…. but I digress. What’s Imagining Violet about?

Imagining Violet is the story of a 16 year old Anglo-Irish girl who goes, on her own, to study violin in Germany in 1891. The 1890s were a period of tremendous change, with new technologies (typewriters, bicycles, sewing machines) affecting what women could do with their lives. My MC, Violet, is based on my grandmother’s life; I wanted to explore what her student life in Germany might have been like.
To give the book intimacy, I chose to craft it as a book of letters, an old-fashioned epistolary novel. I knew I could do it when I found a Guide Book for Northern Germany for 1892  on-line, complete with railway schedules. One of my favourite scenes is in one of the early letters; young Violet’s journey by train from Edinburgh to Germany.

You really got into the research for this, didn’t you?
My research was extensive. At one point I decided to take violin lessons in order to be able to write plausibly on that subject. Then Violet’s actual violin came my way – truly – and today I play it in a local amateur string ensemble.

Where can we learn more?
Imagining Violet is available through Amazon or through my website: I am a Goodreads Author and I am on Facebook.

Wayne Turmel's latest, Acre’s Orphans is out in the world! You can order Paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. The e-book is Kindle only Please help me launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book like Imagining Violet (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

A nice review for Imagining Violet

Review by Goodreads Author, Cathleen Townsend

Imagining Violet is an epistolary tale, which is something I have a cordial dislike for. Telling a story through a series of letters is very different from telling it as a straight narrative. It has a much different rhythm. People include things in letters, everyday details that wouldn’t make it into a typical three-act tale. I seem to have worn a three-act groove into my soul at an early age, so that’s a disadvantage for this book with me as a reader.

However, as an epistolary story it was exceptionally well done. The world may have had a great deal of non-narrative related detail, but it was all vivid and felt incredibly real and authentic. Judging it as the type of story it is, I would say it’s very successful. The line editing is flawless. The main character feels three-dimensional and her personality leaps off the page.

Violet is a young woman in 1892. She describes herself as born in Ireland, living in Scotland, but really an Englishwoman. She takes up studying music along with other liberal arts in Germany, a very demanding course of study that has her relying on tutors for months to get up to speed.

We see pre-Weimar Germany through Violet’s eyes, and it’s a fascinating glimpse, with the education of a young violinist, social experiences of upper-class young women, ice skating on the canals, celebrating holidays—all filled with youthful exuberance, and eventually disappointments. Should appeal to historical fiction fans who enjoy the Victorian period. Or possibly Jane Austen fans who like epistolary formats. For these groups, I would highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Review by Pauline of

March 26, 2019

This was amazing and fantastic and I really enjoyed it! More at 8

When Violet is 16, she travels to Leipzig to study music there. She will spend the next four years there and return home eventually. But even then, she still corresponds with the friends she met in Leipzig.

This is a work of historical fiction which draws a lot of inspiration from actual events. We follow Violet on her adventures in Leipzig, her return to England and end the book with Violet getting married. Her story is told through letters Violet writes to her friends and family.

Although the story is set in the 19th century, it feels natural, in a sense. Fortunately, this was very easy to read as well as really enjoyable. I have found it to be quite difficult to read books set in the past if the author just overdoes it with the writing, but this book walked the very fine line between being unrealistic and just plain overdone.

Another great thing about this book is that unlike with other “letter novels”, you actually understand the plot. Even though you only get to read one side of the story, namely Violet’s, it is still incredibly easy to imagine what all the other characters are feeling and their distinct personalities.

On that note, allow me to freak out for a short while.


The year of Violet and Frank writing letters to each other while Violet was unsure of his feelings for her???? Absolutely killed me.

Now, back to being a #professional lmao.

Minor spoiler alert: I found it very refreshing to read about someone figuring out that maybe they don’t really have an exceptional talent and that’s okay! Violet starts out wanting to be a performer but comes to realize that, compared with others’ , her talent just isn’t that extraordinary. She tries her hand at a couple of other things and comes to the conclusion that even though she does not have a grand undiscovered talent, she may still have a life she enjoys.

This is one of the many themes that are as relevant back then as they are now. Going to live in a new city (and a new country!), making a life for yourself and just finding yourself are things pretty much everyone has to deal with today and I find it reassuring that even people 130 years ago had the same struggles.

Overall, this is definitely a book worth reading in any case and I would recommend it to everyone, even if they don’t particularly enjoy historical fiction as this book really is one of a kind! (less)


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Florence Dewey

Florence Dewey 1955 

Violet was not the only violinist in my family.  On my mother's side, the "Dewey" side, my aunt Florence, born in 1888, also played the violin. And she managed to make a career out of her music.

I've been dividing my time lately between promoting "Imagining Violet" - trying to expand my market beyond family and Salt Spring Island - and digging around finding out what I can about Florence.

Turns out, there's quite a lot of neat information to be excavated.  She did spend four seasons on Chautauqua tours, as my mother had always intimated. She did do an MA at Columbia University in 1942 when she was 54 years old. She did have a diploma from Juilliard. 

And she never married.