Manning, Jo 1940–
Manning, Jo 1940–
Manning, Jo 1940–
PERSONAL: Born July 24, 1940, in New York, NY; daughter of Calogero (a laborer) and Benedetta (a homemaker and cigar roller) Asaro; married Robert Nickerson Manning (a filmmaker and professor of film studies), March 23, 1962; children: Matthew Nickerson, Tracy Manning Winterbotham. Ethnicity: "Sicilian-American." Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1961; Syracuse University, M.S., 1965; attended University of California, Berkeley, 1967. Politics: Democrat. Religion: "Unaffiliated; brought up Roman Catholic." Hobbies and other interests: Travel, cooking, reading, local politics.
CAREER: U.S. Peace Corps, Washington, DC, volunteer, 1961–62; Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, assistant professor of library studies, 1972; Citibank, New York, NY, senior financial librarian, 1972–75; Reader's Digest General Books, New York, NY, director of research library, 1975–96; University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, part-time reference librarian, assistant professor, and bibliographic instructor, 1997–99; Barry University, Miami Shores, FL, part-time reference librarian and instructor, 2000–03; writer, 2003–. New York City Special Libraries Association, president of publishing division, 1980–85; ABC News Information Center, information specialist, 1997–98.
MEMBER: Novelists Inc., Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Dade County Library Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Seducing Mr. Heywood: A Regency Romance was named one of the top ten romances of the year by Booklist, 2002.
The Reluctant Guardian, Regency Press (Cleveland, OH), 1999.
Seducing Mr. Heywood: A Regency Romance, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.
Sicilian Amulet (fiction), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2004.
My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Royal Courtesan, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Work represented in anthologies, including Herotica 4, Plume, 1996; and A Regency Sampler, Regency Press, 1999. Contributor of articles and reviews to popular periodicals and library journals.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Biographies of fascinating English women; research on the English art world of the eighteenth century.
SIDELIGHTS: Jo Manning worked as a librarian before a bit of research inspired her to write her first Regency romance, based on some of the real-life characters she had come to know. In reviewing The Reluctant Guardian, a Publishers Weekly writer said that Manning "shapes characters who appeal to twentieth-century sensibilities, yet who respond to life in distinctly nineteenth-century ways." The characters of this story include Isaac Rebow, who takes on the role of guardian of two sisters and falls in love with one of them. Library Journal contributor Kristin Ramsdell found this period novel to be "on the different side," with its "lively dialogue, a dash of danger, and a somewhat irreverent flair."
Seducing Mr. Heywood: A Regency Romance reveals Lady Sophia Rowley arriving in Yorkshire after the death of her third husband to find that Charles Hey-wood, the local vicar, has been named guardian of her two young sons. Sophia, who is the hero's mistress in The Reluctant Guardian, is recovering from the loss of her latest lover and planning to reunite with her own children, who have been with their father. A woman whose history created her, she is fully changed by the gentle vicar who, unlike Sophia, is not adept at the art of seduction. Daughter of an abusive father, she was forced into marriage at fifteen to a man with similar failures, and Charles, unlike the other men in her life, helps her to reconnect with her children and offers her guidance and strength in confronting her past. Ramsdell noted that turning a woman with a reputation into a heroine is uncommon in romances, adding that Manning "takes a real risk with her new work, and … makes it work."
Booklist contributor John Charles observed that Manning "displays a rare gift for crafting subtly nuanced characters, and she infuses her polished writing with some lovely touches of wit." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "in the end, the reader is genuinely touched when the once-wayward heroine finally recognizes not only her true soul mate but also her real soul."
Manning once told CA: "I write because I want to entertain and bring pleasure to my readers. Reading has enriched my life so much; I want to pay back a little. I write genre because that's what chose me. Would love to write literary fiction, but I can't do it! Not my voice. And voice is all! My first Regency came about because I'd edited the letters of an English gentlewoman, Mary Martin Rebow for a Washington State University publication in 1971 and 1972. I did a lot of background research to edit these (my background as an English major specializing in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century literature helped a great deal), and the resultant essays were rich in detail from the late Georgian to Regency periods. Mary was a delightful person, and I modeled my heroine after her. Except in two instances, all the names of the characters are taken from this real-life love story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2002, John Charles, review of Seducing Mr. Heywood: A Regency Romance, p. 582; September 15, 2005, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Royal Courtesan, p. 432.
Library Journal, November 15, 1999, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Reluctant Guardian, p. 56; May 15, 2002, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Seducing Mr. Heywood, p. 79.
Publishers Weekly, November 15, 1999, review of The Reluctant Guardian, p. 62; May 13, 2002, review of Seducing Mr. Heywood, p. 51.
Romance Reader, http://www.theromancereader.com/ (July 31, 2006), Jean Mason, review of Seducing Mr. Heywood.