Manning, Jo 1940-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

MANNING, Jo 1940-

PERSONAL:

Born July 24, 1940, in New York, NY; daughter of Calogero (a laborer) and Benedetta (a homemaker, cigar roller; maiden name, Conigliaro) Asaro; married Robert Nickerson Manning (a film-maker and professor), March 23, 1962; children: Matthew, Tracy. Ethnicity: Sicilian. Education: Queens College, City University of New York, B.A., 1961; Syracuse University, M.S., 1965; attended University of California, Berkeley, 1967. Politics: "Democrat, and proud of it!" Religion: "Unaffiliated; brought up Roman Catholic and Catholicism will always be a part of who I am—do miss the Latin mass and find Anglican High Church ritual in England the closest thing to the Roman Catholic masses I attended as a child." Hobbies and other interests: Travel, cooking, reading, local politics.

ADDRESSES:

Home—1460 Ocean Dr., #408, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Agent—Jenny Bent, Trident Media Group, LLC, 41 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER:

Writer, librarian. Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI, assistant professor of library school, 1972; Citibank, New York, NY, senior financial librarian, 1972-75; Reader's Digest General Books, New York, director of research library, 1975-96; University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, reference librarian, assistant professor, bibliographic instructor, 1997-99; Barry University, Miami Shores, FL, reference librarian, 2000-03. New York City Special Libraries Association, publishing division president, 1980-85.

MEMBER:

Dade County Library Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Leadership award, New York City Special Libraries, Publishing Division, 1985; Seducing Mr. Heywood was named one of the top ten romances of the year, Booklist, 2002.

WRITINGS:

The Reluctant Guardian, Regency Press (Cleveland, OH), 1999.

Seducing Mr. Heywood: A Regency Romance, Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2002.

Work represented in anthologies, including Herotica 4, Plume, 1996; and A Regency Sampler, Regency Press, 1999. Reviewer for Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Educational Media Reviews Online. Contributor to popular periodicals and library journals.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

The Sicilian Amulet (novel), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2004; My Lady Scandalous, a biography of Regency courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott, for Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), publication expected in 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jo Manning enjoyed a long career 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's 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."

Manning's second Regency romance, Seducing Mr. Heywood, finds Lady Sophia Rowley arriving in Yorkshire after the death of her third husband to find that Charles Heywood, 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 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's John Charles said 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 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 in the Washington State University publication the Record (now defunct) 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:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 2002, John Charles, review of Seducing Mr. Heywood, p. 582.

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.

ONLINE

All about Romance,http://www.likesbook.com/ (April 18, 2003), Jane Jorgenson, review of Seducing Mr. Heywood.

Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (April 18, 2003), Jean Mason, review of Seducing Mr. Heywood.