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'Misfortune': A Songwriter's Novel Debut

Cover detail from Misfortune, by Wesley Stace
Cover detail from Misfortune, by Wesley Stace

Wesley Stace's first novel, Misfortune, first took shape as a song. Not surprising, since the author is known first and foremost as singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding.

Set in early-nineteenth-century Britain, Misfortune tells the tale of a baby boy orphan rescued by a rich lord and raised as his female heir. Bookseller Steve Bercu, who recently recommended the title on Talk of the Nation, called it a "Dickensian romp [that] has it all: eccentric characters, scheming relatives, triumphs, tragedies, and through it all, a protagonist you won't soon forget."

Assembling a group called The Love Hall Tryst, Stace has recorded a set of songs featured in and inspired by the book. Scott Simon talks to Stace about his book and the forthcoming companion CD, Songs of Misfortune.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.