Francesca Forrest’s Gown of Harmonies

Gown of Harmonies, by Francesca Forrest

A few days ago, I read Gown of Harmonies by Francesca Forrest and it was JUST WHAT I NEEDED!

Francesca’s work, for some reason, always is. Last year, I read her novella The Inconvenient God, which made me laugh–so utterly surprising and delightful as it was. And her earlier, still so gorgeous, epistolary novel, Pen Pal, abides in me still.

Francesca’s newest novelette, Gown of Harmonies, delivers just that same “fabulous Francesca feeling,” though it’s never the same feeling, because she’s always trying something new!

This story is full fairy magic, human music, fairy trickery, human heart. Labor and stubbornness. And kindness. So much kindness. I’d recommend this story for anyone who loves the works of Robin McKinley and Patricia A McKillip.

Speaking of kindness, Francesca announced when she put out this novelette that all proceeds from it would go to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which local to the author! That’s JUST THE SORT OF THING I love in this world, and every time I see evidence of it, I get happier.

By day, a recording studio. By night, our BEDS! #quarantine

A few hours of reading Gown of Harmonies, I started to get this… itch. (No, not that kind of itch!) The last audiobook I recorded was back in December, for Tantor, and since then I’ve been exercising my talents (maybe kind of an obsession) by reading Jasper Fforde books to my husband Carlos. (OMGoodness, Early Riser was one of our FAVORITE THINGS WE READ last year!!!)

But now that we’re “Sheltering in Place” at my mom’s house in Arizona (we came for a little vacation and then… stayed) (we don’t know when we’ll be able to go home to NYC) (we’re very lucky to be here) (also, I only packed for a week), we’re reading the ARC of Martha Well‘s forthcoming Murderbot novel, Network Effect. My mom jumped in, so I get a larger audience, which suits my inner Norma Desmond like whoa.

(FUN FACT, Network Effect coming out on May 5th, the same day Carlos’s book Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe comes out with Disney Hyperion! PRE-ORDER!)

All of which to say, I thought that it might be time to do a little reading-aloud project that might go a little further than Carlos’s ears. To that end, I asked Francesca Forrest (who is my friend!) if I might volunteer my voice for her audiobook.


What a posh mic. Where does my brother get this stuff?

So I found a little team willing to proof and produce me. These are Jessica P. Wick: a poet, author, and an AMAZING proofer and editor of books and audiobooks–so, if you’re looking for someone to do that, I recommend her heartily–and Jeremy Cooney: one of my five beautiful brothers, (like all my brothers, great at everything), musician, game master and podcaster, video editor, etc. He’s also the one who collaborates with me on my Brimstone Rhine projects.

All proceeds from the audiobook for Gown of Harmonies will ALSO go to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, to help create support for those who have been laid off in this crisis, & otherwise!


Since necessity breeds innovation, I have taken two of the foam mats (see above) that we are sleeping on in mama’s guest room (well, it was a “yoga/meditation room,” hence no bed and the need for Home Depot’s foam mats), and a little folding desk we got from Staples, and I borrowed a mic from Jeremy. Therewith, I have set up what will pass for a small studio!

I figure, if I get up at 5 AM before everyone else, including cats and birds and traffic are awake, I can record The Gown of Harmonies tomorrow and possibly the next day. And then send it on to Jess to proof me, and Remi to produce me, ET VOILA! We will have made a thing. TOGETHAH!


C. S. E. Cooney, excited


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2 responses to “Francesca Forrest’s Gown of Harmonies

  1. That’s such a pretty photo of you–that last one I mean! I also like the ghost reflection of you in the kindle! Martha Wells’ Murderbot books–well the first novella, anyway–are on my Kindle! So much good stuff to read…

  2. Pingback: Locus Magazine! Reviews! My audiobook! The Witch in the Almond Tree! | C.S.E. Cooney

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