Sirens by Janet Fox: Blog Tour + Giveaway
Posted 05/08/2013 by alicemarvels in Author Guest Post
We’re so thrilled have Janet Fox stopping by today to share a guest post on her Sirens in the Time of Gatsby blog tour, hosted by Mod Podge Blog Tours. Janet gives us some insight into life after the Great War, as experienced by the characters in Sirens.
In SIRENS, Jo Winter’s most pressing internal problem is the whereabouts of her missing older brother, Teddy. He returned from his stint in World War 1 damaged by “shell-shock.” Here’s a bit about what that means:
The end of the First World War in 1918 was a time of great social and economic transition that led directly to what made the 1920’s “The Roaring Twenties.”
Soldiers who fought in the First World War, then called “The Great War,” and survived came home with devastating injuries to both body and mind. Over four million Americans served in the First World War, and served under ghastly conditions, facing for the first time in battle heavy artillery, machine guns, and poisonous gases.
And while these physical traumas were terrible, the internal traumas may have been far worse. PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – isn’t a new thing. Called “shell-shock” at the time of the Great War, the damage inflicted psychologically on soldiers serving in the war was unanticipated. Men in the 1900s were expected to be “masculine” and repress their emotions. Crying and breaking down were behaviors thought unacceptable, and were often cited as reasons for placement in insane asylums. Doctors, and the public, had no way to understand the experiences of these soldiers, and they were treated indifferently at best and punished for their behavior at worst.
The end of the war for these returning soldiers could not mean a return to “business as usual”, even if that had been the hope. Technological advancements, urbanization, and immigration led directly to the social upheavals of the 1920s. With so many men serving, killed in action, or returning disabled in body and mind, women had been needed in the work force, and they were reluctant to return to domestic situations, which served to strengthen the cause of women’s suffrage and independence. This independence was evidenced by the adoption of less restrictive clothing and shorter skirts and the fad for shorter hair that was easier to manage.
Movements like pacifism, isolationism, and spiritualism grew following the end of the war as people sought to retreat from the horror. And the need for relief from the emotional traumas of the war may have contributed to the “anything goes” atmosphere that prevailed in the 1920s. Advertising, commercial manufacturing, the rise of the cinema, and the automobile promoted “new” and “more liberal” ideas that conflicted with the traditional thinking American soldiers left behind when then went off to fight.
Any war impacts the generation that lives it and the decade that follows it, but the changes in society following World War 1 were rapid and extreme. It would have been a tough homecoming for those soldiers.
(Check out the fashions in the Downton Abbey image. The designers of that show have it right. Austere, severe, and probably uncomfortable.)
When Jo Winter’s parents send her off to live with her rich cousin on the glittering island of Manhattan, it’s to find a husband and forget about her brother Teddy’s death. But all that glitters is not gold..
Caught up in the swirl of her cousin’s bobbed-hair set—and the men that court them— Jo soon realizes that the talk of marriage never stops, and behind the seemingly boundless gains are illicit business endeavors, gangsters, and their molls. Jo would much rather spend time the handsome but quiet Charles, a waiter at the Algonquin Hotel, than drape herself over a bootlegger. But when she befriends a moll to one of the most powerful men in town, Jo begins to uncover secrets—secrets that threaten an empire and could secure Jo’s freedom from her family.
Can her newfound power buy her love? Or will it to ruin Jo, and everyone around her?