Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the United States, and his wife Lady Westmacott hosted a book signing for Frances Osborne’s new novel, Park Lane on Monday evening. Around 50 guests gathered in the ballroom of the British Ambassador’s Residence to enjoy cocktails, British-themed appetizers, and the company of acclaimed author Frances Osborne.
Ms. Osborne is currently on tour to promote her third book, and first novel, Park Lane. A native of London, Osborne published her first nonfiction book, Lilla’s Feast, a biographical account of her great-grandmother’s life. Osborne’s second book, The Bolter, is also a work of nonfiction and chronicles the escapades of Idina Sackville, an infamous British socialite Osborne descends from.
Osborne’s latest work is a fictional account of two women living in the “Downton Abbey” period of WWI England, an era of history that has captivated millions of viewers through the PBS series. While the current fascination with Edwardian Britain may seem like a recent occurrence, Osborne was ahead of the curve, planning her novel over six years ago-long before “Downton Abbey” hit the airwaves. Published by Vintage, a division of Random House, Park Lane tells the story of Grace, a young woman in 1914 London who finds a job as a housemaid at a mansion. Grace strikes up a friendship with one of the house’s wealthy inhabitants, Beatrice, a member of the radical suffragette movement. Ultimately, the two young women’s lives become connected amidst the changing social landscape of London in World War I.
I had the opportunity to speak to Ms. Osborne at Monday night’s reception where she was signing books for the guests. I was curious as to why Osborne decided to write a novel about this tumultuous time in history instead of another biography. She described the pleasure of creating a character’s internal dialogue and their interaction with other characters as opposed to simply writing facts of historical accounts. However, intensive primary research was done for the novel. Ms. Osborne admits to spending countless hours pouring over diaries of young women and suffragettes while preparing for the project. During her remarks to guests on Monday night, Ms. Osborne promised plenty of romance, intrigue, and scandal in the pages of Park Lane. I am looking forward to reading my signed copy!