Sirens by Janet Fox: Blog Tour + Giveaway

Posted 05/08/2013 by alicemarvels in Author Guest Post

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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.


Home From World War 1: Returning From the “Great War” by Janet Fox


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.”

departing for the front 1917

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.

in the trenches WW1

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.

lady traffic cop in 1918

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.)



About Sirens:

Sirens by Janet Fox

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?

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Book Trailer:

About Janet Fox:

Janet Fox, author of Sirens

Janet Fox is the author of award-winning books for children and young adults. FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin Young Readers 2010), set in Yellowstone National Park in 1904, is a YALSA Best Fiction for YA nominee and an Amelia Bloomer List pick, 2011. FORGIVEN (Speak 2011), set in 1906 San Francisco during the great earthquake, is a Junior Library Guild selection 2011, and a 2012 WILLA Literary Awards Finalist. Her most recent novel, SIRENS (Speak 2012) is set in 1925 New York. Janet has numerous MG and YA projects underway. She is a former high school English teacher and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults in 2010 (Vermont College of Fine Arts). Janet lives in Bozeman, Montana.

Catch up with Janet on her: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook



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Don’t miss the rest of the Sirens in the Time of Gatsby blog tour—head over here for the full list of stops!




    They were committed to insane asylums for crying and being emotional? That’s appalling. I can’t imagine what our soldiers go through today even with an understanding of the emotional trauma they experience let alone then when they were expected to just buck up. I wonder what people will say in 80 years about the things we don’t understand today. Such a fascinating post, thanks for sharing!


    I think it’s really sad that soldiers would be placed in an asylum because of PTSD, especially given how common it was. This is a fascinating post, and the book sounds really great. Thanks for the chance to win!


    My great-uncle had shell-shock and kept a diary of his struggles — a very sad and interesting read (I’d never met him, since he passed before I was born). SIRENS is set in such a tumultuous time–sounds intriguing!


    This is one of my most favorite eras to read about in history. Some how I missed seeing this one so I am so glad you posted about it today! I am excited to read it. It has been awhile since I have read this genre.


    This was a awesome guest post. thanks for the giveaway 🙂


    This time period has always interested me. I love this cover too!


    I am very interested in stories set in the 1920s. That whole time period seems so intriguing. It’s pretty sad that soldiers with PTSD were not treated properly and just put in asylums. It must have been awful for them to go through a war and have to come home and act like everything was okay.


    But I so wanna wear those clothes anyway 😉


    I’ve always loved this era for the fashion. I know my blog often has a 50s feel to it b/c of the pin ups, but actually this is where it started… 😀 Also a time of great change and upheaval for women. Love reading about this time in books.


    I love reading about this time period! The history is very interesting, but I’m definitely one who enjoys seeing it in a fictional story rather than history class, for example. So I’m always on the look out for books like this. I’m REALLY wanting to read Sirens, it sounds amazing!


    Thank you ALL so much for the interesting and thoughtful comments!! Yes, I agree, we treated our soldiers badly then, and I only hope we can do better now. And, ooh, the clothes! (More on that in future posts on this tour.)

    Thank you so much to Alice Marvels for hosting me on this stop! Hugs to all – Janet Fox


    Very interesting guest post. I was not very educated on WWI but I have read three books already,this year set during this era and the more I read the more fascinating it is. I really enjoyed this guest post. I also want to read this one and learn more about the flappers. Thanks for the giveaway!


    Wow, I absolutely love those old photos. This book sounds really good. For some reason, I’d love to go back to the 1920’s.


    I’m not always a historical fanatic (probably the opposite), but I do really love finding out more about this particular period of time. Thanks for sharing! I’m sure I’ve come across Sirens before, though I don’t think I previously paid it much attention. Will definitely be adding to my TBR now. 🙂


    This period in history fascinates me with all the different movements, and I am curious to read Sirens. This was a wonderful informative post and I loved all the pictures! Thanks so much:)


    Thanks for sharing the guest post! This period is definitely a sad time of our history.


    This sounds great!


    Very enlightening post (the best kind of blog tour post)! The 20s is one of my favourite periods to read about. I’m not sure I’ve ever given it much thought in relation to the after effects of WWI though, so I learned some things here.

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