By Keswick Life
ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS (Blackstone Publishing; August 18, 2020; hardcover/ e-book/ audiobook) by debut author Liza Nash Taylor is a sweeping Jazz Age tale of regret, ambition, and redemption inspired by true events, including the Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935 and Josephine Baker’s 1925 Paris debut in Le Revue Nègre.
1924. May Marshall is determined to spend the dog days of summer in self-imposed exile at her father’s farm in Keswick, Virginia. Following a naive dalliance that led to heartbreak and her expulsion from Mary Baldwin College, May returns home with a shameful secret only to find her father’s orchard is now the site of a lucrative moonshining enterprise. Despite warnings from the one man she trusts—her childhood friend Byrd—she joins her father’s illegal business. When authorities close in and her father, Henry, is arrested, May goes on the run.
May arrives in New York City, determined to reinvent herself as May Valentine and succeed on her own terms, following her mother’s footsteps as a costume designer. The Jazz Age city glitters with both opportunity and the darker temptations of cocaine and nightlife. From a start mending sheets at the famed Biltmore Hotel, May falls into a position designing costumes for a newly formed troupe of African American entertainers bound for Paris. Reveling in her good fortune, May will do anything for the chance to go abroad, and the lines between right and wrong begin to blur. When Byrd shows up in New York, intent upon taking May back home, she pushes him, and her past, away.
In Paris, May’s run of luck comes to a screeching halt, spiraling her into darkness as she unravels a painful secret about her past. May must make a choice: surrender to failure and addiction or face the truth and make amends to those she has wronged. But first, she must find self-forgiveness before she can try to reclaim what her heart craves most.
LIZA NASH TAYLOR was a 2018 Hawthornden International Fellow and received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The 2016 winner of the San Miguel Writer’s Conference Fiction Prize, her work has appeared in Microchondria II, Gargoyle Magazine, and Deep South, amongst others. A native Virginian, she lives in Keswick with her husband and dogs.
More on the Author: The farmhouse where Liza Nash Taylor lives in Keswick, Virginia, with her family and dogs was built in 1825, and it is the opening setting of ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS. She writes in the old bunkhouse, with the occasional black snake and a view of the Southwest Mountains. In 2018, Liza completed the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Art and was named a Hawthornden International Fellow. She was the 2016 winner of the San Miguel Writer’s Conference Fiction Prize. Her short stories have appeared in Microchondria II, (an anthology by the Harvard Bookstore), Gargoyle Magazine, and others. ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS is her first novel. Look for her second, a stand-alone sequel, in 2021, also from Blackstone Publishing. For more visit, lizanashtaylor.com.
Early Praise for ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS
“Assured, exotic, heart wrenching, Liza Nash Taylor’s Etiquette for Runaways is that rare debut novel that combines a story that sweeps from continent to continent and age to age without sacrificing the deeply personal story of one tormented woman. Taylor’s May Marshall is the new woman of a previous century, a jazz dolly with a scarred past and a hungry heart who wants forgiveness from the only one who cannot give it–herself.” — Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
“An utterly absorbing tale of the trials of being a young woman of independent spirit during the glamorous but harsh years of post-WWI America, when the yearning for personal freedoms clashed with the heavy hand of prohibition, politics, and social mores. I could almost taste the smoky, moonshine-laced air of the speakeasies, and feel flashes of fringed tassels on my skin as I read. Beautiful and immersive writing!”— Natasha Boyd, USA Today bestselling author of The Indigo Girl