Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Kiesler, Austrian actress of Jewish heritage, scandalizes Europe with her nudity in the art film Ecstasy. Her hasty marriage to a wealthy munitions merchant disintegrates as he grows increasingly controling and possessive. Even worse—her discovery that he supplies deadly weapons to Hitler’s regime.
She flees husband and homeland for Hollywood, where Louis B. Mayer transforms her into Hedy Lamarr, an icon of exotic glamour. Professional success clashes with her personal life as marriage and motherhood compete with the demands of studio and stardom.
Roused to action by the atrocities of World War II, Hedy secretly invents a new technology intended for her adopted country’s defense—and unexpectedly changes the world.
"Beautiful Invention deftly weaves Hedwig Kiesler’s life as an intelligent, daring woman with the seductive, exotic Hedy Lamarr MGM invented and displayed to a fascinated public. It’s fast, fun, fascinating, enjoyable, intriguing, and recommended." ~ Historical Novels Review
“The golden age of the silver screen is brought to vivid life…Margaret Porter paints an indelible portrait of the reluctant starlet—as immigrant, inventor, and fierce patriot.” ~ Leslie Carroll, author of Notorious Royal Marriages
"Set against the backdrop of World War II, including a heady mix of Hollywood stars, this book
provides an insight into the life of one of the film greats. Her rise
from lowly script girl to big screen fame is charted in detail,
providing us with clues to the real woman behind the glamorous
persona . . . Hedy Lamarr, once touted as one of the most beautiful women in
films, is vividly brought to life in Beautiful Invention. Those interested the early days of Hollywood glamour will love this book." ~ Reader's Favorite
A Pledge of Better Times
The story of ambition, treachery, and passion incorporating
17th century historical figures, royalty, and events.
For generations Lady Diana de Vere’s family loyally served England’s crown. But after King Charles II’s untimely death, her father firmly opposes James II’s tyranny. Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans—the late king’s bastard son by actress Nell Gwyn—also rebels against his newly crowned uncle’s manipulation. Political and religious turmoil bring revolution and yet another coronation before Charles returns to from war to claim his promised bride. As companion to Queen Mary Stuart, Diana has followed her de Vere forbears into royal service. She expects Charles to abandon his military career after marriage, but he proves unwilling to join the ranks of the courtiers he despises and mistrusts.
In palace corridors and within their own household the young duke and duchess
confront betrayals, scandals, and tragedies that threaten to divide them. And neither
the privileges of birth nor proximity to the throne can ensure their security, their
advancement—or their happiness.
(Includes Book Group Discussion Guide.)
Tracing my characters' paths through history was a fascinating journey! To see the places where they lived, loved, quarreled, see the slide show at the bottom of this page.
A Pledge of Better Times has been well-received by readers and reviewers:
“Porter’s ambitious novel of 17th-century England is brimming with vivid historical figures and events . . . rigorously researched and faithfully portrayed.” ~ ~ Publishers Weekly
Seeing the places my characters knew is a pleasure and a privilege. Though the centuries or decades have altered so many of the locations they frequented, I appreciate walking corridors they walked, gazing at their portraits, and exploring terrain familiar to them.
“A true delight for fans of monarchy. . . Porter does a sensational job portraying the time period and showing how time passed and England was ever changing. . . the relationship between Charles and Diana in A Pledge of Better Times is complex and interesting.” ~~ The Examiner
“The remarkable figure of Lady Diana de Vere stands at the center of Margaret Porter’s sumptuous, wonderful new novel . . . Porter winningly captures both the dramatic societal upheavals and the sparkling wit and court life of the time, especially in the character of Lady Diana, a wonderful fictional creation. It is a very rewarding reading experience – I highly recommend it.” ~~ Historical Novels Review
“A richly evocative peek into a world long gone and yet very familiar to modern readers, with political and ideological maneuvering and romantic entanglements not so different than today's . . . Porter explores friendship, marriage, parenthood, and loyalty as she tells the story of people who were celebrities in their time, and she illuminates the soft power aristocratic women had, if they were allowed to wield it.” ~~ New Hampshire Sunday News
“Marvelously detailed . . . a rich and unique perspective on the times. A must-read for any Stuart-era fan." ~~ Rebecca Henderson Palmer
“Meticulously researched . . . an impressive cast of real-life characters brought to vibrant life. Margaret Porter crafts her story with exquisite detail, transporting the reader into a world full of intrigue, scandal, and breathtaking danger . . . a masterful writer.” ~~ Award-winning author M. Reed McCall
“With elegant prose and vivid detail, A Pledge of Better Times sweeps you into late Stuart England." ~~ Marci Jefferson, author of Enchantress of Paris and Girl on the Golden Coin
“A portrait of Diana de Vere as rich as the portraits that grace British museums and palaces.” ~~ Christy K Robinson, author of Mary Dyer Illuminated
"The sparkling, dangerous, enticing post-Restoration period comes to vivid life! I couldn't stop reading!" ~~ Amanda Carmack, of Murder in the Queen's Garden: An Elizabethan Mystery
The comprehensive slideshow embedded here catalogues the sites in England and Holland that I visited--some more than once--while researching and writing A Pledge of Better Times.
My previously published novels take place chiefly in England or Ireland during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They feature dukes and duchesses, lords and ladies as well as people associated with the theatre--opera singer, actress, dancer. I've written about miners and maids and musicians. The main characters are fictional, but many lesser or walk-on characters are real people (the Prince of Wales, Jane Austen, Joseph Grimaldi.) These stories are set in London or Bristol or Bath, the countryside, or more obscure regions (the Isle of Man.) They were published in hardcover, in paperback, and in various foreign languages. Many are now becoming available digitally, as Ebooks. Complete information here.