Shakespeare And Me – Guest post by @KileyDunbar and #BookReview of #newrelease, One Winter’s Night

Last year I was introduced to the debut novel of someone who I have come to view as one of those authors whose books I will put others aside, to read as soon as I can.

Kiley Dunbar’s first book, One Summer’s Night, is a wonderful story, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and heavily influenced by that famous bard, William Shakespeare. As I read her fourth book, One Winter’s Night, (yes, she’s got that many under her belt since last year’s release!) I realised it was also Shakey-heavy, too, so I decided to be nosy and ask all about her fascination with Shakespeare, and how much he’s influenced her writing, and life, too!

Over to you, Kiley!

I fell in love with Shakespeare’s poetry when I was fourteen and I talked my mum into buying me A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based solely on my lovestruck reaction to its gorgeous cover. I still have that book! (pictured).

That was the summer my parents dug out a small pond in the back garden of their terrace in the coal board village where I grew up. I spent hours that summer sitting by the pond trying to get to grips with the strange language and magical characters. I only understood half of what I read and it took me the whole summer to finish the play.

I was always a dreamy kid but something about the summer moon reflecting in the water and this 400-year-dead beardy English bloke had me reeling. I was a goner.

Cut to Mrs Marr’s English class a few years later and I’m head over heels for Hamlet, outraged by Othello and totalled on Twelfth Night. Thank you Mrs Marr!

In May 1999 I was writing a long letter to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford upon Avon explaining my obsession and asking if they have any summer job vacancies – and they did!

Within weeks I was living in Stratford, working as a tour-guide and seeing every single play at the RST and the Swan. I was in heaven!

And I didn’t want to leave.

So I applied to study at the Shakespeare Institute and, to my amazement, got a place – after a nerve wracking interview. I made Shakespeare-obsessed friends for life there.

A few years, and a lot of studying, later I have been fortunate enough to be able to teach my own Shakespeare courses at a uni in the North of England. Seeing the moment where it finally all made sense for my students was utterly magical!

It felt as though all my teenage summer dreams had come true. Except for one. I wanted to write love stories and comedies of my own.

In March 2019 my debut novel, a rom com, called ‘One Summer’s Night’ came out with Hera Books, inspired by my love of Shaky and (v. v. loosely) based on my first summer in Stratford all these years ago where I met my husband and we got engaged after FOUR days! I know, I’m not exactly risk averse. Now I’m looking forward to sharing the sequel to that novel. It’s called One Winter’s Night and is out on 17th September 2020 and follows the same characters and some new ones through a very romantic, dramatic winter in Shakespeare’s hometown. One of the storylines is a gender-reversed version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.

I hope you love it, Kiley, x

You can download your copy of One Summer’s Night here:

Apple https://apple.co/2sM8y2p
Kobo http://bit.ly/2HtpPYg
Kindle https://amzn.to/2MAxFOV
Google http://bit.ly/2FUCNvK

And One Winter’s Night can be bought here:

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3haiHwO

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2B94BMV

Apple: https://apple.co/3haaEA8

Here’s the blurb:

A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where magic happens…

It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely.

When best friend Mirren Imrie moves down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness?

And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent?

A romantic, funny and feelgood read that will make you smile from ear to ear. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will fall in love with this cosy winter read!

Thank you, so much, Kiley, for sharing your love affair with Shakespeare with us all!

And four days! Wowzer! Well, they do say, when you know, you know. 😉

As I mentioned, I was honoured to be able to read an ARC of One Winter’s Night, and it was fabulous! Here’s my review.

One Winter’s Night by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I happened upon Kiley Dunbar and her debut last year, and after devouring the first one, I have awaited any other releases with great anticipation, and she’s never failed to satisfy.
Hearing that the characters from One Summer Night, Dunbar’s debut were getting another outing in One Winter’s Night, made my summer.
I love Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon is a place we visited plenty when I was growing up, And though I’ve never been, Scotland and its. beauty has always enticed me.
One day I will visit.
And romance? Well, I love a bit of romance, so, having all these components in a book should be a guaranteed good read, for me, at least.
And it surely was!
Catching up with Kelsey Anderson, as the Scottish lass comes to grips with settling far south of her home town, in Shakespeare’s land, attempting to set up a business fuelled by her passion for photography, with no good friends or family close by, and the love of her life off acting across the Atlantic was a joy.
And I loved the parallel story of Kelsey’s best friend Mirren, the newly single, Scottish journalist who’s finally had enough of the sexist world of broadsheet journalism, and finds herself swearing off men, jacking in her job, and jumping on a train to join her best friend, for a little while, as she straightens her life out.
There were a whole host of new characters introduced, including the old soak, propping up the local bar, who ended up being a rather famous actor in his prime, with a hidden secret, and Blythe.
Oh, I loved Blythe! Everyone needs a Blythe in their lives.
An eccentric elderly woman who was a force to be reckoned with in her prime, on stage, until life threw her some huge curveballs. Blythe may be a bit of a recluse, but she has amassed a veritable smorgasbord of memorabilia and hard-learned wisdom over the years, along with the talent of distilling her own extremely strong flavoured gins.
Kelsey’s unusual, initial meeting with Blythe cements a multi-generational friendship that adds another layer to an already wonderful story.
So there’s love, heartbreaks, more romance, Shakespeare, family angst, and GIN! What more could a reader want?
Absolutely a recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Now, I 100% recommend you get reading all of Kiley’s books, they are wonderful little nuggets of escapism!

Happy Reading!

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