Book Jacket


rank 32
word count 14080
date submitted 24.02.2009
date updated 20.04.2014
genres: Romance, Historical Fiction, Comedy...
classification: universal

Fame and Infamy

Iva Polansky

Stranded in Paris and facing danger, an American must rebuild her life under a false name.


DO’s and DON’Ts for an American stranded in Paris:

*Don’t allow policemen to buy you a mourning dress. They have no fashion sense.
*Don’t follow a handsome stranger. You’ll have to mend your broken heart.
*Do beware of ex-mistresses. They can turn art objects into missiles.
*Don’t pretend you are respectable. You’ll be found out.
*Don’t think too highly of matrimony. Experience will prove you wrong.
*Don’t attract the attention of celebrities and high-ranking politicians. You’ll get into serious difficulties.
*Do keep a revolver close at hand. You’ll need it.
*Most of all, do avoid becoming famous if you can’t handle fame.

Fame and Infamy is a blend of comedy, mystery, romance and hard facts. Sarah Bernhardt and Victor Hugo are among the celebrities who share the scene with gritty characters emerging from the bohemian Latin Quarter. Paris, mopping up after the twin calamities of war and revolution, provides a background for this hearty clash of French and American cultures.

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19th century, comedy, crime, france, friendship, historical, humor, love, love triangle, mystery, romance, social issues

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Dawn Wessel wrote 96 days ago

One of the few books that I simply must read to the end...even though set in another era, its lessons still speak to women of today. How I wish I would have read this when I was young instead of devouring romantic novels that do not educate the reader one iota except to fill one's head with nonsense. I was especially interested in the historic accounts of France as my ancestors hailed from there. I deeply felt Nelly's prison, though the bars were invisible; the depraved status of women (only money could guarantee freedom) still rings true for many women today, except thankfully those in developed countries have a few more alternatives. You would think we would have learned a lesson or two but even today women are still enslaving themselves to Victorian religious ideas. This is a book for young girls (to make them think) and old girls (to remind them of their duty to encourage the young girls of today to think).

Best regards,


Rosa Goedicke wrote 96 days ago

I read the first five chapters and all I can say is imagination and storytelling backed by splendid writing. The descriptions of both scenery and characters are organic, crafting a clear picture of the that era. There were no edits that I noticed, although once in the story, I didn't even look for them anymore.

Backed! Good luck!

siggy wrote 16 days ago

Hello Iva,
A agree with a lot of Joe's comments. Also, the young woman had absolurely no thoughts of her own. How did she feel about what was happening to her? Her inner thoughts might bring her alive. I've read only the first chapter, will continue tomorrow.

Michelle Richardson wrote 23 days ago

Fame and Infamy - The writing is polished and crisp. The characters well-drawn and delivered. There was nothing I could dislike about this book. I especially liked Widow Koenig, who seems harsh and cruel, yet I suspect has a lot more going for her than what we see on the surface.

An easy offering of high stars and backed with pleasure. Excellent.

Michelle 43 Primrose Avenue

Joel Denno wrote 26 days ago

Hi Iva,
I’ve got around to your book now and I really enjoyed what I read. I’ve just managed to read the first chapter and I’ve made a few notes. I will carry on reading if my suggestions are useful to you, but I’m happy to back it on what I’ve read so far.
Widow Koenig is a great character. You’ve built her up beautifully and the humorous moments work really well. From the opening paragraph about her, with its pragmatic closing sentence I knew that I was going to like her. I like the setting, although I wonder whether there is going to be a bit more historical colour later on in the book. You are, after all, dealing with a fascinating period. I think the way you set out the mystery element in the opening was good. You give away enough detail to pique my interest, but not so much that I feel I already know where you’re going.
Anyhow, let me know whether you want further notes or not. I’ve made one or two below. Thanks again for backing my book. I’m happy to reciprocate.

Paragraph 1: ‘shoe polishing rag to dozens…’ This final part of the sentence doesn’t quite work. Could you put ‘used by’ instead of ‘to’?

Paragraph 2: ‘he had the opportunity’ I think this is in the past perfect and should be ‘had had’

Paragraph 3: the tenses in the first sentence are a little confused. I think it should be: ‘they did not have enough proof’

Paragraph 17: I think the word ‘deep’ is unnecessary. ‘mourning attire’ is clearer.

Paragraph 32: I love the line at the end of this paragraph: ‘Widow Koenig was a firm believer in the power of glass.’

Paragraph 33: ‘better feelings’ I think ‘better’ is a bit vague. What about ‘more sentimental’?
‘her heart still harboured’ I’m not sure that ‘harboured’ ‘reserved’ work together in the same sentence. Could you say ‘The only affection left in her heart was for her brother Fernand’?

Paragraph 34: I’m not averse to using clichés, but you have two in the same paragraph here and it may be a little crowded. ‘palm of his hand’ and ‘stone’s throw away’

Paragraph 35: ‘The third one’ seems like a bit of a weak introduction for the character. Could you just drop it and begin the sentence with his name?
I think ‘alternatively’ should be ‘alternately’ and you don’t need the word ‘both’ if you’ve already said ‘alternately’

Paragraph 36: I’m really enjoying Widow Koenig. Your descriptions of her writing style and the final sentence are bringing the character to life.

Paragraph 49: ‘Trust men to choose a female garment!’ I understand what this sentence means, but I don’t think it is clear enough. ‘female garment’ is not specific enough. Could you add a word, like ‘inappropriate’ or ‘immodest’?

Paragraph 59: ‘right earlobe was missing’ I think this should be in the past perfect, so ‘right earlobe had been missing’

Paragraph 62: I love the ‘concert of the cutlery chatter’

Paragraph 67: I think ‘addressed the remaining members of her audience’ would flow better. I also think that as the opening sentence introduces the speech you don’t need ‘she announced’ after it. Perhaps it is to remind the reader of her loud voice, but I think you have adequately established that already. To break up the two sections of her speech, you could then change around the order of the second half of the paragraph, so: ‘She turned to address the woman, pulling at the black gauze … “You can remove…”’

Paragraph 72: ‘pair of patched bed sheets’ I’m not sure that ‘pair’ of bedsheets is correct.

Paragraph 104: ‘resonated with loud knocks’ I don’t think that ‘knocks’ is a strong enough word. I might ‘knock’ quite politely at the door, but if I were impatient I would ‘hammer’ or ‘bang’.

Paragraph 111: ‘passed through the corridor’ Again, I’m not sure this is strong enough. Could it ‘brave’ the corridor?

Paragraph 112: I’m being pedantic, but I wasn’t sure about the use of ‘bleach’ in Paris in 1871. I looked it up on Wikipedia and whilst chlorine or eau de Javel would have been used ‘to bleach’ things, I’m still not sure about using that word as a noun.

Paragraph 116: ‘short of words’ implies that she had very little to say, but I think you mean that she had nothing to say.

Paragraphs 117&118: The characterisation in these is brilliant. I think I’m falling a little in love with Widow Koenig.

Paragraph 120: We’re in Widow Koenig’s head here and I think you could say ‘It wouldn’t do to have an invalid on her hands.’ One’s is too impersonal here when she is clearly thinking about herself.
‘There was none in the attic’ This is plural, so it should be ‘were’ not ‘was’

Paragraph 121: ‘she took it with her’ This would be better in the past perfect: ‘she had taken it with her’
‘she had her husband’ Again, should be past perfect so ‘had had’

Morven James wrote 33 days ago

Iva Polansky, Fame and Infamy:
Chapter 2:
I really like the dry humour of father irresponsibly exiting this world without making provision
And you really capture the foreigner abroad – reading is easy – but other [whichever the country] speak too quickly and gesticulations do help.
“anguish strangles my chest” an excellent description.
The back story is well told, believable – how many young girls have been taken in romantic tales. And the chapter, culminating in the nightmares is very well written. She had no guilt, but nightmares chase the guilty and the guiltless in equal measure.
Chapter 3:
“…she could not find an excuse for dirty ears.” Another good touch of dry humour.
The reality of Paris, she finds and is here well described, is very different from the tales of wealth and splendour, which she believed existed.
And now we find out about the fraud, but at least she is cleared of the murder, but how will she return home without funds? Will the inspector actually be as good as his word? Judging by the author’s “long pitch” it seems unlikely that Nelly will return home as soon as she would like.
The writing continues to be of a high standard and very enjoyable.
Already given five stars, but I feel the author is deserving on the extra one.
Very best wishes
The Buck Stops Here

Morven James wrote 36 days ago

Iva Polansky, Fame and Infamy:
Your writing is very confident and you certainly give a feeling of 19th century Paris. As to the historical aspect, couldn't possibly comment, my knowledge of the Franco-Prussian War and its aftermath is, at best, vague.
The descriptions are good, the characters well drawn, and you have some excellent phraseology.
I did feel the chapter was a little long, and we were introduced rather a lot of named characters, but this is of minor importance.
This first chapter was very well written and has raised many issued to be later resolved.
High stars and my very best wishes,
Morven James
The Buck Stops Here

Mellish wrote 36 days ago


Very good writing - and interesting characters - a sort of mixture of Gaston Leroux and Balzac...

Since it is the year of the Paris Commune, I think you should put in the month. I assume it's before the commune, and of course the armistice has been signed with Bismark. I read a book on the Commune a while back, but didn't realise 'reparations' were 13 billion!

So - I assume scenes from the commune will feature in later chapters - this should be excellent. However, it probably wouldn't hurt to mention the month as when it occurs in this particular year is so very important.

I wondered about the tough American girl sobbing at the end - would this really happen? Well, maybe. (Sobbing females isn't my thing, I have to admit.)

The only other suggestions I have concern the opening and I've listed them below.


The writing is a little ambiguous about the ladies maid at the beginning - it could be that she is dead - then suddenly she starts talking. I would suggest letting the reader know she is alive and well right at the outset. e.g. 'a bundle off sorrow watching him from her bedside'. Or some such.

had shrunk it -> hmm wrong word... 'had diminished it' or 'had improved her temper'....

Wisteria Blossom wrote 38 days ago

I have never been to Paris, but I was able to picture your setting as if I frequented it often. Your characters are well developed and interesting. When I read the lines about the sharpshooting girl, I immediately thought of Annie Oakley--beautiful young sharpshooter from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show--close to the same time frame. I expect they would have liked each other!

Beautifully written and keeps you turning the pages.

Wisteria Blossom

Sue Hart wrote 40 days ago

Pitch: as I said before, the pitch was funny. It was surprising to find Nellie experiencing one tragedy after another. You did an excellent job portraying the hardships, and circumstances that the characters were in. These characters were so well thought out they had definite personalities. Octave Gaillard is just beginning in chapter four and I found him to be quite driven, proud, and I like the way he is not quite ready to settle down with Amelie. Of course the voice of Nellie is strong. Her life is so unsettled as she's been thrown from one calamity to another. At first I thought the loud voice and harshness of Widow Koenig was going to be another strike against Nellie, but she has put a roof over her head.

The plot is definitely moving along at this point. You're still building characters and circumstances. But it's a smooth read with clean editing. I couldn't find any spelling or punctuation errors, though sometimes I get so caught up in the story I'll read over them. It only slows me down if the read staggers and that never happened.

I"ll say your descriptions of settings are really good. You don't over describe the place, you give enough for us to envision it and not bury us. Thanks for that. I tend to read past those long drawn out details.

Your show verses telling? It was beautifully done. When you were telling something, it was done with an action that didn't drone on. Excellent work. The Dialog mixed with this was also smooth.

I would not dream of suggesting anything. I found it a very professional read. Now if you'll only post more?

Sue Hart wrote 41 days ago

Your pitch is so very clever. The questions you pose open up a world of maybe's and perhaps. I'm looking forward to reading this. Historical Romance with a heavy side of comedy has got to be my favorite genre. Well done.

AliyaM.books wrote 53 days ago

You are a strong writer, no doubt, but I was having a little trouble keeping up with the story and dialogue at parts. I think you could specify who is speaking a little more (Or maybe I'm just slow). The quality of the writing here is really special and your story is unique! Good job! :D

Heidi Whatcott wrote 61 days ago

I read all the chapters you've posted and greatly enjoyed the story. Your characters are well drawn and distinct. I like the careful attention given to even small peripheral characters. You give enough detail to make them seem very real without slowing down the narrative. I like your MC. It's a nice touch to bring a young, sharpshooting girl from Montana and throw her into the Parisian mix.

The historical details seem very accurate and your descriptions are vivid. I never had a problem picturing the scenes. You know the period and place well. I checked out your website Victorian Paris, and I was impressed. It was much more elaborate than I expected. I'm sure this book will do well. I'm giving you six stars for the way your writing, plot, and setting all combine to create a unique, compelling novel. The best of luck.

Heidi Whatcott--Crayton House

stray comet wrote 66 days ago

I've read the first chapter and found there's everything here to entertain the reader. For one, the pace is both quick and allows for convincing and rich setting of the scene. The characters feel alive, each being peculiar in some way, and the environment instantly stands out as late 19th century Paris - it's believable.

Nice touch with how the preceding events are recapitulated in the conversation between the inspector and Cornelia.

We're thrown into the story's midst, sort of, and there's promise of further revelations both backwards and as the events progress. The reader is piqued in two opposite directions. What led to Cornelia's 'falling-out' with the law and how will she now cope? And then, what other curious fellows will stray in her path? Great hooks right there.

Your writing supports all that, there are many fine turns of phrase here and there. I particularly liked how the appearance of Fernand is shown through a mention of his silhouette against the glass door pane. Same goes for the opening paragraphs, where there's just enough eloquence to catch the reader's attention on the spot.

Well done!

robert j harrison wrote 71 days ago

Read the first chapter. Overall this is good, worthy of its stars. But I almost gave up after a couple of paragraphs owing to the rather prolix style, almost tiring.
At La Tour d'Alsace - good atmosphere, in fact, excellent. Just occasionally the writing feels hurried, we're racing along - probably what I mean when I say it's a tiring read. And the dialogue at times feels wooden, and definitely not 19c This shouldn't feel harsh. It's a read that I'd like to continue with given time. Best wishes. Robert

Dedalus wrote 79 days ago

I've read your first chapter and I don't really know what to say that could improve it. Your writing is tremendously good and the story was gripping from the start. Excellent characterisation of the American girl in reaction to the policeman and suspense and intrigue was carried on throughout the chapter to keep the writer engage. All the bombs were placed, as they say, to go off later.

Rosa Goedicke wrote 96 days ago

I read the first five chapters and all I can say is imagination and storytelling backed by splendid writing. The descriptions of both scenery and characters are organic, crafting a clear picture of the that era. There were no edits that I noticed, although once in the story, I didn't even look for them anymore.

Backed! Good luck!

Dawn Wessel wrote 96 days ago

One of the few books that I simply must read to the end...even though set in another era, its lessons still speak to women of today. How I wish I would have read this when I was young instead of devouring romantic novels that do not educate the reader one iota except to fill one's head with nonsense. I was especially interested in the historic accounts of France as my ancestors hailed from there. I deeply felt Nelly's prison, though the bars were invisible; the depraved status of women (only money could guarantee freedom) still rings true for many women today, except thankfully those in developed countries have a few more alternatives. You would think we would have learned a lesson or two but even today women are still enslaving themselves to Victorian religious ideas. This is a book for young girls (to make them think) and old girls (to remind them of their duty to encourage the young girls of today to think).

Best regards,


Darius Stransky wrote 108 days ago

"What purpose did good morals serve when life was so obviously unjust?"

That's the last line in Ch 4 and these sort of questions run throughout the chapters.
We are being questioned, asked what is right from wrong.
This is an amazing read and - as an ex dweller in Paris in the sixties - the writer has captured the decadence and life of France at the time perfectly. (the time it is set in that is - not my time there)
Strains of Orwell's 'Down and out in London and Paris' with all the gritty realism
High starred and will be backed
Thanks for this
The King's Jew

ivanawright wrote 109 days ago

I've been reading the Kindle e-book version of Fame and Infamy since 5am. I absolutely love it. Your character development is so strong, I'm jealous. I adore Sarah. I found myself wanting to be in her circle of friends just so I could watch her up close and personal. You had me giggling, and clicking the next button as if I were sure I'd find gold on the next page. The best part is I did find gold. You're an amazingly talented author. You're going to go far kid.

Chip Walter wrote 130 days ago


This is very good. You write with authority, which is authors should do. Writing us like leading when dancing. If you're in charge and write with authenticity and command, readers sense it and entrust themselves to the story. That's the way this first chapter comes across toe, especially the open which is particularly strong. You unfold the story creatively, naturally, unforced and I immediately connected with the characters.

My only small nit-pick:I would shorten the chapters. It's an illusion but short chapters keep the story moving forward, I think. Just my opinion. I look forward to reading more.

Thanks for making contact with me. This was a pleasure to read. I welcome any thoughts or criticisms you have of Misadventures.


Ps don't feel you have to sugarcoat your criticisms of Quick. I'm here to get as much honest feedback as I can so I can improve the book.

JaneGorman wrote 132 days ago

Excellent. I enjoyed reading the excerpt that's posted. The writing is clear, descriptive-- it's easy to get sucked in. Starting with such an outside view of Nelly is an interesting way to begin, particularly with the leap to her diary in the next chapter. But it works. I feel like I know Nelly both from others' perspective and from her own. I'm making room on my bookshelf.
Jane Gorman
Deadly Memories

kabiba wrote 144 days ago

'Fame and Infamy' by Iva Polansky - Chapters 1-2
This is a very well-written story about Nelly McKay AKA Amity Moncarelli. I am enjoying it very much and will continue to read/back it.

Chapter 1
-You set the scene well with Inspector Savard giving Nelly her new identity. It is apparent she is quite shaken up by her experiences. It's effective that you don't spell out her exactly why she murdered the aristocrat, leaving us with questions. Is it simply loyalty to her mistress, or were there other factors involved?
-The section about her new employment with Widow Koenig is also very good. Your characterisations are excellent, and it's the small details, both visual and emotional, that give the book it's strength. For example, the dishwasher who quotes Virgil, Zidore's unpleasant smell/widow Koenig's reaction to him, her garish bedspread.
-You give widow Koenig's character a lot of depth by revealing her harsh side as well as a tender side in the way she treats Nelly (at the end of this chapter.)

Chapter 2
-This was an entertaining glimpse into Nelly's POV.
-I enjoyed the description of the cook and his hand gestures to communicate with her—such a simple thing but it reveals his warmth as a character.
-interesting to hear more backstory (although cleverly not presented as backstory) about the incident with the Baron Chazelle and her mistress Kitty.
-The description of the house in the south of France is beautiful with the crest over the door and the shimmering azure ribbon of the sea.
-she still does not reveal what happened, and in this way, you keep your reader hooked.
-I could imagine all her unsuitable suitors - uncouth and illiterate. It is obvious she has a hankering for the finer things in life such as horsehair bustles!

Great work Iva, high stars, and I look forward to reading more,

Stone Circle

Sheena Macleod wrote 171 days ago

Fame and Infamy by Iva Polansky
Genre HF Romance, Comedy

Iva, this is a very good and engaging read. I love HF and this is really caught my attention.

Comments based on chapters 1-3
Everything is so visual, from your writing style. I could visualise all of the settings and characters as I read.

The situation was also interesting and serves as a hook to read on. I wondered how the story would pan out after Nelly's mistress was found. The meeting with Octave at the start of Chapter four sets the plot off again, This is well done.

I have no suggestions to make. The work is well edited, and you have a clear idea of where this plot is going.

I hope you have success with publishing. There is a big market for this type of writing/
The pitches caught my eye and are good.

Carnival of Lies

AriesAirhead wrote 177 days ago


I am sorry it has taken me so long to read this gem. Your long pitch is wonderful! The scenery and character descriptions are beautiful and I had no trouble picturing the widow's restaurant or Nelly's attic room. The dialogue is some of the most natural I have encountered on autho. Ziodre touched a soft spot in me and I was happy to see Nelly had somewhat taken to him and treated him like a human. The bumbling monsieur's marriage proposal was wonderfully done, and my stomach clenched with anxiety that Nelly would except. Something tells me Octave and Nelly haven't seen the last of the Baron. Very nicely done, superb writing and you deserve to make it to the ED with Fame and Infamy.


Chris 1 wrote 192 days ago

You've created a totally engaging period piece peopled with well-rounded, believable characters and a plot that suggests (having read the first three chapters) that more is to come and we haven't heard the last of Baron de Chazelle maybe.

I enjoyed the circumstances Nelly found herself enduring - stranded abroad and somehow involved in a murder case. Widow Koenig's household is full of well-defined staff with their own backstories - you portray the struggles with the French language beautifully.

I particularly liked the brief exchange between Nelly with her neighbour on the stairs who 'doesn't mind getting her ass grabbed, at least she gets paid for it.' Can they be friends? She's such a strong character and has depth.

All this, and Nelly knows how to use a gun - methinks things are going to heat up before long.

A fine accomplishment. A good, easy, entertaining read like all the best stories are. BACKED

Robyn Quaker wrote 215 days ago

Fame And Infamy by Iva Polansky
A very rich piece of work with not a single word wasted. Fast moving and vivid descriptions. Made me laugh too as the characters are all so very different. I'm left wondering how Zidore will fare with Widow koenig's sudden kindness. The revolver was introduced in the second paragraph which was good and drew me in. I loved how the staff wondered 'how such a large organ could inhabit a small body.' A fantastic description of a woman with a bellowing voice. Well written. Inventive and refreshing. High stars from me.
Robyn Quaker
Halfpennies And Blue Vinyl.

Iva P. wrote 228 days ago

It is an error to think that all 19th century women were demure, shrinking violets. Many were far pluckier than Nelly McKay, the MC here. She is actually the daughter of her time: struggling with her ingrained morals and yearning for conventionality. One has to read further to realize that. Thank you for dropping in and leaving a kind comment.

Fame and Infamy.

It takes a certain sort of writer to make a character believable in an historical setting when they have traits we'd consider "modern". Iva succeeds in giving us a character who's apparently born out of her time, but is obviously at home in her 19th Century world.

Good, strong writing.

MegK wrote 235 days ago

Fame and Infamy.

It takes a certain sort of writer to make a character believable in an historical setting when they have traits we'd consider "modern". Iva succeeds in giving us a character who's apparently born out of her time, but is obviously at home in her 19th Century world.

Good, strong writing.

carol jefferies wrote 248 days ago

Hi Iva,

Fame and Infamy

I think the image you have used to draw readers is very appealing.

Set in Paris, in 1871, the story opens with the sordid description of a cheap hotel room. I especially liked the mention of the bed's coverlet being used as a towel.

I liked the way the characters are introduced one at a time, and each are well-painted, from Inspector Savard with his fashionable walrus moustache to Fernard's loss of an earlobe. The story from Widow Koenig's point of view is wonderfully portrayed.

Cornelia comes across as being very strong, capable and extremely courageous for someone not only in an alien environment, but only nineteen years of age. I also felt sorry for her and the situation she finds herself in, as well identifying with her desire to return home to America. I could almost feel Savard's discomfort that she had shown both him and the police force up by the way she tackled being kidnapped, far exceeding their pathetic efforts.

I loved the attention to detail like the cockroach scurrying over the cigarette-burnt carpet to the smells of the restaurant which add to the authenticity of the story. The areas of Paris are well-researched too.

This is fast-paced historical fiction at its best, that captures the essence of squalid late nineteenth century Paris.

Well done.

Highest stars and backed.

Carol Jefferies
(The Witch of Fleet Street)

t23please wrote 257 days ago

The start of your novel reads really well. Its an intriguing story. The writing and style are consistent and flow really well. I hope you do well with the novel!
Tim - The Latter Day Church of Tiny Tim

Amanda Robertson wrote 257 days ago

Hi Iva - I've backed your book because although it's not a genre I would maybe choose to seek out here, I found it well written. There is a good splashing of sense of humour and your descriptions are engaging without being obtrusive. I like that the MC is described through other character's eyes. Although it was set in the past, much of the character's thinking seemed very 'now'. You have set up the mystery element really well too - I want to know what happened. I hope you continue to progress up the site's charts and I think I would really like to take a look at the pictures etc on the website you have posted the link for.

Thanks for the steer!

'Stone Cold'

Geowonderland wrote 290 days ago

I read mostly historical fiction and this is one of the best. It's very well-written with fun and sharp tongue. I love the character of the widow. She's the best :)
Good luck,

Lara wrote 304 days ago

This is very well written with such a strong plot and colourful characters. The opening sentence is a bit clunky although I wouldn't want to change its content. I liked the feisty woman with her uncompromising repartee, and also the device of showing her through the detective's eyes which view, we quickly realise, is not to be accepted by the reader. I didn't buy the diary. She says too much, gives too much background detail and I would rather she had some pen-friend she relates all this to. It didn't convince me as diary entry. I liked the way the plot developed ... it seems as though the chapters will remain exciting right through. Super stuff.

Sebnem wrote 311 days ago

Fame and Infamy-Iva Polansky

Hi Iva,

I will begin with an apology for not having discovered your wonderful book before. I kept seeing it in the lists, but forgot to make note of it, my loss.

Your story is so well-written, so well-edited, to me, it’s faultless. It starts at a slow pace to set the atmosphere of Paris in 1871. It is the story of Miss Cornelia Jane McKay, maid to a Countess of American origin and fortune. The Count is dead, the heiress, missing, the valet on the run, and the maid found with a revolver in her bag…She is the only witness to a crime, yet to be proved, as the Countess is still missing…. The French police give her a new identity and accommodate her at Madame Koenig’s restaurant with a job as a dishwasher.

The second part of the first chapter is where the pace begins, and flows…The scene where the ‘widow’ takes Madame Koenig to Zidora’s room and when they meet the philosopher is very impressive…Madame Koenig’s character is built very skilfully while we get a glimpse of our MC. The pace is the second chapter from Cornelia’s POV develops into a rhythmical beat, as she tells her story about how she came to work for the Countess and it flows, flows….

This is a book that deserves to be at ED as soon as possible. I will read all that you’ve uploaded and add to these comments, shortly. So far, this was enough to form my opinion; it’s impressive, eloquent, and elegant…You depict the period atmosphere very skilfully…

Highest stars, on WL, and will be backed at the nearest opportunity….

Best wishes, Sebnem-The Child of Heaven

MauriceR wrote 320 days ago

Great fun, the story bounces along with a good pace - I read all you posted.
Interesting choice to start after the action has happened - it almost feels like a sequel.
My initial thoughts: I like the premise - plucky American girl up against a stuffy European. I can’t help but be reminded of Henry James. It’s not a fair comparison (your sentences are somewhat shorter although you do seem to share a fondness for understated humour), but there is a reservoir of goodwill towards the situation that helps ease me into the story. And even for readers who have never heard of HJ, who can resist the Latin Quarter of Paris?
After more of chapter 1: I’m impressed by the way all the action at the restaurant takes place around the American girl without her participating (you never even mention her name). I don’t know if you did it on purpose, but it gave a sense of her retaining her poise as all these things are going on around her in a foreign language. Quite a subtle way of setting the tone.
Once into the story, it all went very smoothly from there on.

katehyde wrote 320 days ago

Excellent writing, interesting characters and intriguing situation. I'll read more as I have time. Good work!

YvonneMarjot wrote 330 days ago

This is good stuff! I've just sat and read all that you have posted here. It's well written, humorous and descriptive, inherently readable. No Sarah Bernhardt or Victor Hugo here, so I guess I will have to download the whole book. Good selling! There are one or two places that I might have worded slightly differently, but it's really a matter of style rather than correctness. I hope it does well. Best wishes, Yvonne.

Kathy K G wrote 351 days ago

This is historical fiction at its best. Great storytelling set inside a solid framework of history. Lovely details dropped like petals from a ladies' nosegay. Lush backgrounds and characters who feel so very real. Fantastic work. Highest stars.


Bren Verrill wrote 375 days ago

This reads very well. Short paragraphs, but not short on detail; straight into the heart of the action, no phoney backstory. Very well written.

Bell52 wrote 376 days ago

Really enjoyed your first chapter, it was so well written i thought i was reading a professionally published novel. You set the plot up nicely making me hungry for more, great job on hooking people in right from the start. I look forward to reading more. High stars from me.
Michelle Read
Long Lost

Charles Knightley wrote 379 days ago

Fame and Infamy
Iva Polansky

I've read about half of what you've posted and I'm very impressed, both with your writing skills and editing. Your writing is clear and the story moves along at a good pace. You describe your characters well.

Highly starred, on my watch list waiting for space on my book shelf!

When I read most of the books on Authonomy I end up making several notes but with this book my notebook was just about blank. The only sentence I had a problem with was the following.

She left behind a married daughter as loud-mouthed as her mother; the two did not get along.

Did you mean her mother or the daughter's mother?

Charles Knightley
The Secret of Netley Abbey

Neville wrote 384 days ago

Fame and Infamy.
By Iva Polansky.

An interesting start to this story, a bit of a ‘who dunnit’ runs through the opening chapter as Miss Cornelia Jane McKay gets off lightly as a potential suspect for murder. Instead she ends up a witness to the true killer and as such must be protected.
She’s put up in a hotel that lacks a 5 star rating, that’s for sure. Talk about the pits...this it it!
She’s also set up in a job which wouldn’t enhance her C.V. any.
Love the character widow Koenig of La Tour d’Alsace, she certainly adds colour to the story with her domineering ways, but being the owner of the restaurant she can get away with it.
Although coming across as a very hard woman, she can show tenderness when she wants to as at the end of chapter one.
You have very good description here and I like it, the story flows well and is interesting from the word go.
I really do like the cover and both pitches.
I’ll be back for more but have well stared it for now...great stuff!

Best wishes with this,


One Off, Sir!
The secrets of the Forest (Series) - Cosmos 501.
The Secrets of the Forest (Series) - The Time Zone.

Seringapatam wrote 429 days ago

Iva, I love it when people can describe. whether it be people, objects environment or anything. there is nothing better than a brilliant descriptive voice and you have one. With that and cracking story and a brilliant flow to a book what does that tell you? Yes its the recipe for a good book. There is a smart pace going on in this story too and I can only now see good things for this book. I love this. Well done and I score it high.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

zap wrote 433 days ago

Hi Iva,

this is such an interesting period in Paris, and you draw a comprehensive picture of the many contrasts available at that time. The ugly hotel scene provides a fitting environment to jump right into action. It also helps make the characters three-dimensional and introduce the main murder premise of the book. Madame Ahmitee seems to know what she wants and the reader can foresee that her outspoken attitude will clash with various French characters, including M. Koenig's.
Those first scenes introduce a sense of fun. They also rouse the readers interest, who wants to find out how this American woman is going to fit into the strange French environment. The diary entry allowed a deeper insight into the MC's character, while the dream makes a very good hook into the next chapter. An enjoying read.

Celine Zabel wrote 450 days ago


I have read what you have here on Authonomy. Incredible, really. The story moves swiftly along, carrying the characters with it. The period is great, and the setting is wonderful! Your writing is very clear with good usage of dialogue mixed with the narrative. Knowing some French, I found its usage delightful as well.

I see no place for any critique. It is great! Congratulations on what you have here.

Celine Zabel
Lives Shattered: One Mother's Loss at the Hands of the Legal System

Katrina_Allardyce wrote 457 days ago

Really nice book, you have the amount of exposition quite high to start off, but unlike some of the other books I have read, you are still really close to the narrative so you can get away with it and it works well. It's the kind of book I think in a hundred years will be known as a classic - and the title is just great. I have given it lots of stars!

Roy Z wrote 472 days ago

It is a very good novel. It is a history novel but not old fashioned. I found the contents different, and better than what I had expected from the pitch.

Andrea Taylor wrote 474 days ago

I'd have loved to read the start, so will access them elsewhere (as you suggested), but the glimpse I had so far is intriguing. The characters are very vivid and well drawn and the story-line flows very nicely.
The de Amerley Affair

Cathy Hardy wrote 483 days ago

I am drawn into this page turner and given you top stars. The gypsy story is lovely and I will be reading more.

Kestrelraptorial wrote 488 days ago

Hi Iva,

I read the three chapters you’ve kept here of “Fame and Infamy”. I gathered that Nelly and Octave work for Sarah Bernhardt, who’s got an interesting need to hoard treasures. I was surprised to read the part when Hugo presented her with the Chinese box and jars, especially with the five god-beasts engraved on them. I know these creatures – Byakko, Suzaku, Seiryu, and Huanglong. The missing black tortoise is called Genbu. Your characters have very interesting histories. I’d like to read more about Nelly and her friends playing tricks on Adolphe Bonnard and other boys. I’d also like to follow Celestine’s story more. I’ll definitely read the whole book available on ebook or kindle.

CarolR wrote 495 days ago

Hello Iva,

I enjoyed these chapters despite picking them up mid novel. I found the characters particularly well drawn. I loved the gypsy and Celestine's subsequent rise into better circumstances. I loved Nelly's meeting with the stranger and was suitably impressed by his knowledge of dogs. There were so many awesome little details in here that added up to paint a rich and vibrant world that felt authentically nineteenth century Paris. I loved the cameo of George Sand (one of my literary heroes), but longed to see more of her :)

Without the entire novel to see, I can't really comment on plot-related issues, so my suggestions are limited to minor final draft issues. I noticed that sometimes sentences were a little too wordy, eg, "She swallowed the saliva that had accumulated in her mouth" could easily be reduced to something like, "She swallowed as her mouther watered" and then maybe follow with an action that *shows* us how this reaction makes her feel. Just my opinion though. Also I noted that sometimes, you *tell* the reader emotion when *showing* it would work better. eg. "Celestine's face screwed with anger" and "the woman screamed with fright". Think about just showing us the body language that implies those emotions instead. In real life we know that a scream in the context of a dog rushing at someone means they are frightened, or that a screwed up face, along with harsh words in the context of betrayal of trust means anger. Telling us these things is redundant and interrupts the flow.

Finally, in the scene where Celestine tells Miss Woodridge she tied the dog to the tree, Miss Woodridge leaves, Celestine smirks and whisks eggs. Then in the next sentence she's in bed and the dog is inside with her. Should be a new paragraph at least here. I got a bit confused at the abrupt transition, as I thought to myself "Hang on, I thought the dog was tied to a tree."

Apart from that, lovely work. I adore historical fiction that makes history feel real showing the famous people, unknown people, and the most intriguing of all: infamous people. Great work,

"Heart Fire"