Interview with Rachel Beanland- THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE

Interview with Rachel Beanland- THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE

In this interview, Rachel and I discuss The House Is On Fire, the Richmond Fire of 1811, her stunning cover, how she chose who would tell the story, her research, and much more.

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In this interview, Rachel and I discuss The House Is On Fire, the Richmond Fire of 1811, her stunning cover, how she chose who would tell the story, her research, and much more.

Rachel's recommended reads are:

  1. The Glass House by Emily St. John Mandel
  2. Less by Andrew Sean Greer
  3. Everything's Fine by Cecilia Rabess
  4. The Complicities by Stacey D'Erasmo

My Read-Alike Request Recommendations for The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck:

  1. The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little
  2. Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl by Renee Rosen
  3. The Cottingley Secret and When We Were Young & Brave by Hazel Gaynor


Support the podcast by becoming a Page Turner on Patreon.  Other ways to support the podcast can be found here.    

The House Is On Fire can be purchased at my Bookshop storefront.     

If you enjoyed this episode and want to listen to more episodes, try Kate Manning, Lynn Cullen, Sadeqa Johnson, Shelley Read, and Jennifer Rosner.

Ask Me Anything question for me for April's episode? Submit it here.

Want to submit a Read-Alike Request for the podcast? Submit it here.

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[00:11] Cindy:Welcome to the award-winning Thoughts from a Page podcast, a member of the Evergreen Podcasts Network hosted by me, Cindy Burnett, a voracious reader and book columnist who provides you with casual author conversations and book recommendation episodes, as well as insider information on all of the newest releases that I personally endorse and on the publishing industry in my Behind the Scenes series. With so many books coming out weekly, it can be hard to decide what to read, so I find the best ones and share them with you. For more book recommendations or to find my backlist of interviews, visit my website at


Have you read a book recently that really resonated with you and makes you want to read a book more like it? If so, submit a Read Alike Request to me through my Google Form located in today's Show Notes and tell me why you loved it, and I will suggest some similar reads on a future Tuesday episode.


If you are interested in reading some great books before they publish, I hope you will consider joining my Patreon group to access additional content, including early reads and pre-pub author chats and bonus episodes. For April, my selection is The Comeback Summer by writing duo Ali Brady. I just added Banyan Moon by Thao Thai for May, and The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman for June. The link to join is in the Show Notes.


Today I am chatting with Rachel Beanland about The House is on Fire. Rachel is the author of the novel Florence Adler Swims Forever. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives with her husband and three children in Richmond, Virginia. I hope you enjoy our conversation.


And now for my Read Alike request segment. While every book is unique and stands alone, certain elements of books we love really stick with us. While lots of websites use algorithms to try and recommend similar books, I rarely find that these recommendations make sense because they do not focus on what it is I liked about a particular book. That is what I want to tap into the aspects of the book that appealed to the requester and to focus on finding those elements in other books. Today's request is from Carol and she selected The Invisible Woman by Erica Robuck, a book that I absolutely love and recommend to people all the time. In The Invisible Woman, Robuck brings World War II heroine Virginia Hall to life, highlighting her immense bravery as an Allied spy in German occupied France during the war. Carol enjoyed the book because she loved learning about a real person with whom she was unfamiliar, but learning about them through fiction. She enjoys biographical fiction and wants to find some more tales about lesser known women or lesser known events. This is the perfect read alike request for me, and I could go on and on about wonderful recommendations, but I finally settled on three. My first recommendation is The Chanel Sisters by Judithee Little. In The Chanel Sisters, Judithe chronicles the lives of Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel from their early years at the convent orphanage in France. Their time at the orphanage left a lasting impression on both girls and forged a determination in Coco to create a better life for herself. I think this is a great read alike for The Invisible Woman because little is known about the early years of Antoinette and Coco Chanel's lives, and Little beautifully depicts how their early lives influence the iconic business that Coco ultimately creates. Virginia Hall is such a strong and purposeful woman, and Coco Chanel was very much the same. My next recommendation is Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl by Renee Rosen, which comes out in late April. This was a Patreon early read for my group and was a huge hit. This book tells the story of Estee Lauder and how she went from selling face cream out of a New York City beauty parlor to revolutionizing the cosmetics industry. It's phenomenal, and it is another story about a strong and relevant woman, making it a great read alike for the Invisible Woman. Much like the Chanel sisters, Virginia Hall also shared a lot of characteristics with Estee Lauder. They were both tough and driven women. The last recommendations for a Read Alike Request for The Invisible Woman are The Cottingley Secret and When We Were Young and Brave by Hazel Gaynor. The Cottingley Secret tells the story of the young girls who fooled the world, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, about their alleged discovery of fairies. And When We Were Young and Brave tells the story of Girl Guide leaders who led their troop through incarceration in Japanese internment camps in China during World War II. Hazel Gaynor is one of my favorite historical fiction writers, and she almost always highlights true events or true individuals or both. That makes her books great read alikes. For The Invisible Woman The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray is obviously a great read alike as well, but I feel like many people have already read it, so I'm just giving it a brief mention. They have a new book coming out in June about the friendship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Mcleod Bethune, which should make another great read alike. I could go on and on about this topic, so if you need more recommendations for historical fiction books about real women and real events, please feel free to reach out to me through my website. Thanks, Carol, for submitting a read alike request and I hope you enjoy these recommendations. And now onto my conversation with Rachel Beanland.


Welcome, Rachel. How are you today?

[05:16] Rachel:I'm good. Thank you for having me.

[05:18] Cindy:I'm so glad you're here. I just loved The House Is on Fire, and I can't wait to talk about it.

[05:24] Rachel:Oh, thanks.

[05:25] Cindy:Well, why don't we start out with you giving me a quick synopsis of the book for those that won't have read it yet.

[05:30] Rachel:Yeah. The House Is on Fire is based on the true story of the Richmond Theater fire, which happened in 1811 in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The fire happened the night after Christmas. The theater was packed with people. 600 people at least were in the building. And when a backdrop caught fire backstage, it resulted in just complete and utter chaos. By the end of the night, 72 people were dead, including Virginia's governor, a former senator, the president of the Bank of Virginia, all of these kind of people in power, but also a lot of women. The majority of the people who died were women. And so this is a story that I've always known ever since I moved to Richmond. But it's a story that I don't think the rest of the United States knows, despite the fact that at the time that the fire happened, it was the largest kind of single day calamity that the United States had ever experienced.

[06:35] Cindy:Well, my next question was going to be, how did you learn about it? But it sounds like it's one of those things you've just known since you lived in Richmond.

[06:41] Rachel:You know, it's funny, because I got really lucky in that I learned the story of the Richmond Theater fire the very first day I moved to Richmond.

[06:52] Cindy:Oh, wow.

[06:53] Rachel:I hadn't even moved here yet. A realtor was driving me around in a car and kind of pointing out neighborhoods, and we were driving down Broad Street on our way to Church Hill, and he pointed out the window and said, hey. He pointed at monumental Church, which was built as a monument to the victims of the theater fire. And he said, there used to be a theater on that spot, and a lot of people died in this fire. And at the time, I kind of assumed, oh, this is a story that all of Richmond knows. And now I have been welcomed into the fold of people who know this story. But what I've learned after 15 years of living in Richmond is that a lot of people don't know the story. I would say less than 50% of Richmonders know the story of the Richmond Theater fire because it happened a long, long time ago. So I think there will be a lot of aspects of this book that are new, even to people who are local.

[07:50] Cindy:Well, how did you decide to write about it?

[07:53] Rachel:I had always been interested in the fire, and I had always kind of paid attention when nonfiction pieces would appear about the fire. But it really wasn't until the pandemic hit. My first novel, Florence Adler Swims Forever, came out right in the middle of the Pandemic, like July of 2020. So that summer was completely chaotic. My family was in our house. I was launching a book on zoom. Kept running up and down the stairs to my office. My children who went to public school. The public schools in Richmond closed for over a year. And so we were just all in the house all the time. And I had been in the middle starting the beginning kind of, I would say, of another novel that was going to be set further afield and was going to require a lot of travel, boohoo, poor me. And then when the pandemic hit, though, I realized that I was not going to be getting on an airplane anytime soon. I didn't know when the next time I was going to get on an airplane was. And it started to make me really nervous that I was going to have kind of a novel that was half cooked and not be able to finish it. So I started thinking about projects that I could work on that would be set a little closer to home, that would be a little more conducive to my pandemic lifestyle. And as I started to think about stories that I might set in Richmond, the fire kept coming back. I kept thinking about the Richmond Theater fire. And one of the challenges, but it's also one of the kind of wonderful aspects of the story is that it was very well documented and there were so many people affected, that part of the challenge became figuring out which of the true stories, who of the real players I might kind of incorporate into my fictional narrative. But really, yeah, it was the pandemic that did it.

[10:12] Cindy:I love that you keep leading me into my next question, because my very next question was going to be it was a huge fire with a lot of people impacted. So how did you decide to tell the story generally? Like, the approach you were going to take to telling the story and then who would tell it?

[10:27] Rachel:Yeah. So I had written my first novel was a multiple point of view novel. And I followed seven characters, actually in that book. But they were all members of the same family or kind of connected to the same family. And so they were always in and out of each other's scenes. And I just had a lot of fun writing that novel. This novel presented different challenges. The fire. One of the things that was so interesting about the fire and really the south in this time period, we're in 1811, we're not close to the civil war yet. Is that in 1811, in an urban environment in the south like Richmond, the life that a lot of enslaved people were living. Was one that had I hesitate to use the word more freedom, because, of course, there was not freedom, but they had the ability a lot of enslaved people had the ability to move around the city. And had a little more agency over their day to day kind of comings and goings. In later years, there would be rules that went into effect that if you were enslaved and you had bought your freedom, you had to leave the commonwealth, but at this time, you could stay. So this is all to say that there was a cross section of people in the theater that really did, in many ways, represent the population. In Richmond. You had people, white people with a lot of money who were up in the boxes, which were the highest ticket prices. There was a pit, which was the first floor, and then there was a colored gallery, what they called a colored gallery. So I knew that the fire had affected a lot of people and a lot of people from different races and classes. And it became very important to me to tell the story of the fire from these different perspectives. I wanted to make sure that I kind of captured the full experience. And so as I started to build out my characters, I follow four people. We start the night of the fire, and then we follow them for about three days until the funeral, which occurs about three days into the book. But I was really looking for characters that represented these different points of view, that represented these different ways of experiencing this tragedy. And so I chose a young boy who was working backstage as a stage hand and who was kind of partially responsible for the blaze. I chose a white, kind of middle class, upper middle class, more elite woman who was sitting in the boxes, sally Henry Campbell. And she's actually the daughter of Patrick Henry. And so his daughter was believed to have been at the theater that night. I follow an enslaved man, gilbert hunt, who was based on a real man named gilbert Hunt, who was an enslaved blacksmith and was not at the theater that night, but is documented as having saved about a dozen white women from the blaze, and then he later bought his own freedom. And then I follow an enslaved woman named Cecily Patterson, who kind of looks around that night she's in the theater, looks around that night and thinks to herself, this might be a good time to slip away without anyone being the wiser. And historians believe that that may have happened in a few cases. So those ended up being the four people I chose to focus on, who are all, of course, fictional, but some of them are based on real people. I really wanted to focus on characters who would not have had voices in 1811, would not have been the loudest person in the room. And even in the case of Sally Henry Campbell, who had more access to power than many of the characters, she was still a woman living in 1811, and so her power was limited.

[14:49] Cindy:So it had to be interesting to start with real characters and then bring them to the page, have to fill in the gaps, maybe go whichever direction you want with them. Who was the hardest to write and who was the easiest?

[15:01] Rachel:Great question. I actually had the hardest time with Jack, the boy who is the stage hand, who's backstage with all these theater types, and he desperately wants to be accepted by them and to be invited into the theater company. But he also has a conscience, and he knows that what they did was very wrong. And for people who are listening, I don't want to give too much away, but the theater company makes the decision. They do not come clean with their role in the fire. They look around for the nearest scapegoat, and things get worse from there. Jack figuring out kind of his motivations, and I didn't have much to go on with him in terms of the historical record. The historical record. We know a young stage hand was at least partially responsible for the fire, but his identity was kind of intentionally obscured in the inquest and a lot of the documents that were generated as a result of the investigation.

[16:10] Cindy:So you really had to fill in for him because his name wasn't even included in the investigation. Correct.

[16:16] Rachel:Yeah, he got a fictional name. I went back and forth on whether to give these characters fictional names if I was basing them on someone real. And at the end of the day, I always feel like giving them that name is a way to kind of pay tribute to real person who walked.

[16:40] Cindy:This path well and to honor those people that were there.

[16:43] Rachel:Yeah, exactly. So particularly with gilbert Hunt, his story is one that everyone in not just Richmond, but everyone in the United States should know. It's a really incredible story. I mean, not only did he save these dozen or so women from the fire, but he then later saved a couple of hundred people when the Virginia State penitentiary burned. He's just a really remarkable human being, and it's only kind of in recent years that we've started to pay a little more attention to him.

[17:21] Cindy:Yes, he's a fabulous character, and he did do a lot of heroic things. I thought it was so interesting in your author's note, and then you mentioned it a minute ago, that Virginia didn't allow people who purchased their freedom to stay in the Commonwealth. I was not aware of that.

[17:37] Rachel:Yeah, I mean, it got really complicated, right, because it creates more unrest. It created more opportunity for enslaved people to try to go because it was easier to kind of hide in plain sight. And so, in general, a lot of the legislation around slavery got much tighter as we move through the 19th century until by the time we get to the Civil War, things have tightened considerably and are much more miserable than they might have been 50 years prior. Another piece of legislation that is referenced in the book is this idea gilbert Hunt was taught to read. And around the time he was taught to read, that was still okay. Right. If you were the person who had taught him, you might not be punished, but in subsequent years, that would have been completely unacceptable.

[18:40] Cindy:It's just so crazy to think about in not a good way.

[18:44] Rachel:Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. When I set out to write this book, I thought, oh, okay, I'm going to write a book about the Richmond Theater fire, and I'm so interested in this, and won't this be great? But, of course, you really can't write a book set in 1811 in Richmond, Virginia, without it at some level being a book about slavery. I think that's true for writing about many parts of the south in this era. It permeated everything. So, of course, it permeated the arts. It permeated tragedies, like the fire, the ways that communities responded to tragedies. And so you see that throughout the.

[19:27] Cindy:Story of the theater fire, I think that's exactly right. During that time period anywhere in the south, it is a way of life, sadly, but it is something where you need to make sure you've represented it in your story. Right. One of the things I loved about the book was how vivid the fire was in terms of how well you brought it to life. Like, I felt like I was there, and when the women are trying to escape and they're being dropped down out the window and all of that, was it really hard to bring all of that to the page, or was that just part of your writing?

[19:59] Rachel:I will admit that I have a writer friend who used to serve in a fire department during the pandemic. I was writing the early pages of this book. His name is Matt Cricio, and this was back when no one was vaccinated. And so I had two writer friends and I would get together on my patio. We had a little heat lamp, and we would sit 6ft apart from one another kind of triangulated, and we would read these early pages, and I was reading their work, and we were kind of doing a mini workshop, and he was basically the only human I was seeing outside of my family. And I can remember sitting out on my patio and us looking at my I live in a row home in Richmond and looking at the distance between floors and him saying, okay, this is the way it would have worked. Because we knew in the historical record, gilbert had caught these women, that someone was passing them to him, that Dr. McCaw was passing women to him from an upstairs window. In the record, it doesn't differentiate whether it's the third floor or the second floor. But Matt was great about saying, no, it would have been the second. It would have been done like this. You couldn't have thrown them this way, or else this would have happened. So we did have some fun kind of hammering down the nuts and bolts there. But I was also, like, watching YouTube videos and all those things that novelists do to try to get something right. So I'm glad it feels right.

[21:32] Cindy:And the stairs collapsing and the claustrophobic feeling of everybody rushing and people falling and getting trampled, I just was like, I feel like I am right here.

[21:42] Rachel:Yeah. And I mean, the other thing that is exceptionally lucky for me writing this book was that there is such a good historical record from which to draw from. So the fire I really kind of can't emphasize this enough that, yes, it happened in Richmond, but remember, the United States was much smaller at that time, and Virginia was much more kind of a central part of the United States. Not to say that we're not a very central part now, but you know what I mean. So when the fire happened, it was covered widely, even for that time. You think, okay, we didn't have telephones. We didn't have fax machines, we didn't have cell phones. Like, how did word spread? It spread quickly via letters. There were so many people who were affected. So it was covered in newspapers in Boston, New York, London, Philadelphia. All the major cities up and down the Eastern seaboard were covering the fire. And there were also a lot of memorial services held even in other cities, in other towns in Virginia to help the families that lived locally grieve whoever it was that they had lost in the fire. And those memorial services were often they were written down, and you could kind of walk away with, like, a souvenir. And then printers started to print all of the investigative findings, the newspaper articles, the sermons in these books that people bought to have these commemorative items they could keep about the fire. So that's all to say that there actually is a great deal of documentation about this fire, despite the fact that now, if you just asked ten people in New York City, have you ever heard of the Richmond Theater fire? All ten of them would say no, right?

[23:47] Cindy:Has it surprised your neighbors or people you know in Richmond when you talk about it? Do most of them know it, or is it, as you mentioned earlier, about 50 50?

[23:55] Rachel:Yeah, honestly, it's been fun, because I'll say, I'm working on something new, or oh, yeah, the book is coming out in April, and people say, oh, yeah, what's it about again? And I'll say, oh, the Richmond Theater of fire. But I always have to kind of give them a minute to say, oh, actually, I don't know about that. So it's actually led to some really fun conversations. And the cool thing is that there's an organization, a nonprofit in Richmond, historic Richmond, that owns and operates monumental Church, which is the church that was built on the site of the theater as a monument to those who had died. So we're also able to kind of bring attention to this historic landmark, which was designed by Robert Mills, who's the same architect who designed the Washington Monument. So there are just all these fun connections that are being made and, yeah, a lot of attention on this kind of forgotten piece of American history.

[24:54] Cindy:Are you going to have a book event there?

[24:56] Rachel:Yes, we're doing the launch party there, which is going to be a lot of fun.

[25:00] Cindy:That makes perfect sense.

[25:02] Rachel:Yeah. The church is deconsecrated now, so it's legit. You can have a party there.

[25:10] Cindy:You're like it's?

[25:11] Rachel:Okay.

[25:11] Cindy:I promise. Right. What surprised you the most when writing The House is on Fire?

[25:16] Rachel:The thing that surprised me the most was the number of women who died and the fact that in the aftermath, there was so much kind of debate and covering up of the fact that so many women had died. There was a lot of I keep thinking about the phrase you doth protest too much. Right after the fire, as the list of the dead became public and more names were added to it, it was clear that of the 72 people who had died, the vast majority of them were women. The numbers were in the course. At this time, you don't actually hear the testimonies of any women in the papers or any of the kind of public record is all written by white men. So the white men in Richmond, of course, as they're writing for the enquirer and giving their testimonials, they are not addressing the fact that this many women have died. And then when you get to other cities like Baltimore and they're reporting the fire, they start to throw a little shade on Richmond and say, well, why have so many women died? Why so many women? And then you get this scurrying in Richmond of all of these white men saying, well, it was their dresses, or it was actually that we were so virtuous. We had given up our seats in the boxes to our women, and we had gone down to the pit, which, of course, turned out to be easier to escape. And so they were just kind of protesting very loudly this idea that they hadn't been as chivalrous as they maybe could have been. And so one of the challenges for me, and it was really kind of great fun, was to imagine what the real reason was. And, of course, the most logical reason, if you start peeling back the onion and really thinking about mass hysteria and pandemonium and all of the things you would expect in a fire of this magnitude is that the men trampled their wives and daughters and these women that they were so close with. And then that was, for me, just an interesting there's so much in this time period made of chivalry Southern gentility, these kind of markers of the Southern gentlemen that we have held in esteem, but that are actually just propaganda. Right. And so I enjoyed the juxtaposition of seeing these guys in the public record kind of talking out of one side of their mouth and then reading between the lines and imagining what had actually happened.

[28:21] Cindy:I think that's the part where you write so much about the trampling and everybody rushing out that makes all of that so effective too, because you've got two layers to it. Just the general pandemonium, but also the fact that a lot of these men were like, I'm worried about myself more than I'm worried about my wife or my family or whoever was attending with them. Right.

[28:40] Rachel:And it's a very human instinct, I think, in that situation, to save yourself. Right. It's not that they can necessarily be blamed. It's just that then they are, of course, bigger than the women around them. It makes a certain amount of sense that they would get out a little more successfully, right. If everyone is kind of out for themselves. But then once they kind of once the dust had settled and they had their mouthpiece again, right. They're back in control of the narrative and they're publishing the newspapers and publishing their testimonials, they were very quick to kind of fall back in line with the more prescribed narrative of, like, oh, no, we were gentlemen till the end. And that's where the story was. There were a couple of times like that where I thought, okay, as a novelist, your novelist antenna go up and you say, okay, this is where the story is.

[29:45] Cindy:And I do agree with that. But I think if I were put in that situation, I would certainly turn around for my husband, I would hope. I don't know. I don't think I could live with myself if I just made myself run out and didn't worry about anybody that was with me, friend or family. I don't know.

[30:01] Rachel:I think that's one of the benefits of writing disaster narratives in general and aftermath stories. And we like these stories. I mean, partly we feel a little ghoulish liking them. Right. But we like them because they force us to ask ourselves, what would we do in this situation? Would I have done any better? And we all like to think, yes, I would have. Right.

[30:33] Cindy:Right. It's hard to think about.

[30:35] Rachel:I know.

[30:36] Cindy:Well, what about the title and the COVID I just love the COVID And I was so curious how it came about and then how you landed on The Houses on Fire for the title.

[30:45] Rachel:The title was the second title I came up with. I had one that everyone was very kind to me about, my agent, my editor. And every time I would use it, they'd be like, well, title TBD.

[30:58] Cindy:You're like, okay, that means it's not staying.

[31:00] Rachel:But I had to save the Word document as something, so I kept saving it as that. And then one day, I was actually at a writing residency. In Maine and I had had two ideas, but one of them was the house is on fire. Which of course, as you know, if you've read the book, is the line that the actors use when they announce to the crowd that the theater is in fact on fire and that everyone needs to flee. So that line is kind of a famous line in the historical record. And I use it in the novel as soon as I emailed my editor and said, what about this? She wrote back 3 seconds later and I think it had like a bunch of expletives because my editor is great and uses expletives, but she's like, I won't say it here, but this is so effing good. Whatever. It was like, okay, this is the title. So that was how we came upon that. And then the COVID I got to say, Simon and Schuster knocked it out of the park with this one. And this is not the first cover. We had a couple of other ones and every time they would send me one, I would love it and I would say, okay, great, this is a great cover. And then they'd write me a few weeks later and say, actually, we came up with a better one. And I'd say, oh, great, and I love this one too. And this was the third cover that they sent me where they said, we have a new one. And I like it too. I think I really wanted a cover that conveyed that there was a theater involved because of course the phrase the house is on fire could be a theater house, but it could also be a residential house or something else. So I like the fact that the COVID conveys that we are talking about a theater.

[32:47] Cindy:I like the color so much too, because I think it really distinguishes your book. I'm all about covers that are unique and different and you're not going to look at it and think, okay, which book is that again? Or It looks just like ten other books, but I think it's so different and it's beautiful. And I'm sure after the third cover you were thinking, I'm not going to get attached until I know we have a final cover.

[33:06] Rachel:Yeah, I know. You do reach a point where this one also I was writing this book under contract, which is different, of course, than when you write your debut novel where you're just writing quietly by yourself for years on end and no one is giving you feedback on anything but this one. As they were working on covers, I was still very much under the gun trying to finish the text. And so sometimes when they would send me a cover, I was like, okay, great. Because I just couldn't even look up from what I you know, I was so terrified that I wasn't going to finish in time that that the covers all felt like that's the gravy that you get to deal with after you've written a great book.

[33:49] Cindy:You're like, don't remind me that I have not finished this book yet.

[33:52] Rachel:Yeah, or like, don't remind me that this is going to be a real book.

[33:57] Cindy:Well, I think the COVID turned out outstanding.

[34:00] Rachel:Thank you.

[34:01] Cindy:Well, what about what you've read recently that you really liked?

[34:06] Rachel:I was on a train yesterday for a couple of hours, and I finished The Glass Hotel, which I had never read, so I feel bad to not recommend something more current, but that is something that I absolutely adored by Emily St. John Mandel. I also along the same vein of reading things that I should have read several years ago. I just finished less because I wanted to read less, is lost and needed to start at the beginning. So I finished that. One book that I'm really recommending right now is Cecilia Rabess’s Everything's Fine, which is a book coming out in June or July. So you've got a couple more months. But it is a really smart kind of testimony to just race relations and politics in our time, but set up in this kind of way that I don't know. I loved the novel, so I think everyone will enjoy that when it comes out. I'm in the middle of the complicities by Stacey Durasmo.

[35:17] Cindy:I'm not even familiar with that last one. The other three I'm aware of, but I'm not even familiar with the fourth one.

[35:23] Rachel:It's a woman who is recovering kind of after her husband her husband is caught in a financial, like, a Ponzi scheme, kind of a little Bernie Madoff-ish. And so she is building her life, rebuilding her life in the wake of that and kind of trying to figure out what she knew and didn't know and how much was she kind of intentionally hiding from the truth of what her husband was doing. And there's a whale and just yeah, I'm enjoying it.

[35:59] Cindy:That sounds interesting. Again, another book that probably makes you think about what would you do in that situation, right?

[36:04] Rachel:Yeah, exactly. I love those books.

[36:06] Cindy:Well, Rachel, this has been delightful. Thank you so much for coming on the Thoughts From a Page podcast, and I can't wait for everybody to read The Houses on Fire.

[36:14] Rachel:Thank you for having me.

[36:17] Cindy:Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. If you like this episode, and I hope you did, please follow me on Instagram at @thoughtsfromapage, consider joining my Patreon group to access bonus content and support the podcast, tell all of your friends about the show, and rate it or subscribe to it wherever you listen to your podcasts, I would really appreciate it. The book discussed in this episode can be purchased at my storefront, and the link is in the show notes. I hope you'll tune in next time.

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Rachel Beanland


Rachel Beanland is the author of the novel Florence Adler Swims Forever. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and earned her MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives with her husband and three children in Richmond, Virginia.