Book Review: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

41gFoKVfgBL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_In this book we meet William Eng, a young Chinese boy living in a Catholic orphanage in Seattle. He remembers his mother and is sure the singer who is performing in town by the name of Willow Frost is his mother Liu Song. He escapes along with his blind friend Charlotte and they search for her. The reunion is not as joyful as he was expecting, however, and we are taken back to the 1920s and learn Liu Song’s sorrowful story of abuse and a love lost. William experiences his own loss and eventually returns to the orphanage.

 

I’m pleased that this book, so full of heartbreak, has a happy ending. I learned a lot about the time period and American-Chinese culture. I have been a Jamie Ford fan ever since reading The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and I recommend all his books. So touching, and so well written. Worthy to have been New York Times Bestsellers.

Cindy Thomson, owner of Novel PASTimes, is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, based on 6th-century legends. Researching her Scots-Irish roots launched a writing journey that has lasted nearly two decades. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also published articles in Internet Genealogyand Your Genealogy Todaymagazines. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband Tom live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families. Visit her at www.cindyswriting.comauthorphoto4cindy-thomson-LR-3

Meet Selah Daughtry from A Rebel Heart by Beth White

A Rebel Heart-Book CoverToday we welcome Selah Daughtry from Beth White’s A Rebel Heart

NPT: Selah, tell us a little about your family.

SELAH: I’m the eldest of three sisters. My middle sister, Joelle, lives with me and our second cousin ThomasAnne in the manager’s house of our family plantation home in Tupelo, Mississippi. Our youngest sister, Aurora, has lived with our grandparents in Memphis since the onset of the War Between the States.

NPT: The manager’s house? Why not the main house?

SELAH: Unfortunately, the big house isn’t fit to live in. During the war, Yankees came through and all but destroyed it. With my mother dead and my father gone, there’s nobody to see to repairs, and we can’t afford them anyway. It makes me so sad and angry. I’ve tried and tried to figure out a way to bring Ithaca back to life. We’re almost to the point of giving in to our grandparents and moving to Memphis.

NPT: Perhaps if you married money—

SELAH: I’ve got more pride than to sell myself, even for Ithaca! Besides, no man is going to be interested in an old maid of twenty-seven like me. Joelle might…but even she…see, we’ve developed a reputation as liberal eccentrics. It’s a little hard to explain to people who don’t live in the South—besides, it’s not good manners to talk about one’s finances with a stranger.

NPT: Ahem. All right then. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind talking about your family a little more. Condolences on your mother’s passing. I imagine you miss her very much.

SELAH: I do, but it’s been a long time, nearly seven years now. I’m beginning to get used to the ache. Mama taught me to manage a home, she taught me to be a lady, and she taught me how to trust God, no matter what. Joelle and Aurora and I—we’re going to survive somehow.

NPT: You said your father is “gone.” He’s passed away as well?

SELAH: Well. Early in the war he was involved in the controversial execution of a bunch of pro-Union civilians who’d raided a Confederate general’s home. The Yankees caught Papa and put him in a horrible prison, but he was shot in an attempted escape.

NPT: And…?

SELAH: That’s all I have to say about it.

NPT: You’re a bit of a tough nut to crack, Selah.

SELAH: People tell me that. Which is probably why I haven’t married. But you know…Never mind.

NPT: What were you going to say?

SELAH: Oh, all right. There is one man who somehow gets me to talk about the most personal things. From the minute I met him—which was under pretty traumatic circumstances, you know—there was something about Levi Riggins that drew me in.

NPT: Now that’s interesting. How did you and Levi meet?

SELAH: He saved my life during a train wreck. And he rescued a lot of other people, too—most of us Southerners. Which is amazing, considering he was a Union cavalry officer during the War. I don’t know exactly what Levi is doing here in Mississippi—odd, now that I think about it, he never got around to telling me. He asked for my direction, but no doubt he was just being polite. He has very good manners for a Yankee boy. And like I said, he’s a very sympathetic person.

NPT: Selah, something tells me you just might be surprised by Levi’s motives.

SELAH: Oh, I assure you this cynical girl is a very good judge of character.

NPT: Something about the way you said that makes me laugh. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. Thank you very much for allowing these prying questions. I believe you may have an interesting story ahead of you.

Beth Head Shot – CroppedBeth White’s day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of The Pelican Bride, The Creole Princess, and The Magnolia Duchess. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Learn more at www.bethwhite.net.

Interview with Aine from Cindy Thomson’s Pages of Ireland

Pages of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Today we welcome Aine from Ireland in the 6thcentury.

Welcome, Aine. Since most of our readers are English speakers, please tell us how to pronounce your name.

My name is not unusual, but very well. ’Tis AWN-ya.

 

Thank you. In the beginning of the story you steal a book. Since books are so widely available in the 21stcentury, tell us why you did that, if you don’t mind.

 

I had to. Well, at the time I thought I had to. You see, the book was believed to have great power and it belonged to my betrothed’s clan. I believed my mother’s clan needed it more since the owners were wealthy and my mother’s people were very poor. There were many who believed the book could bring about a better harvest and make the cattle more fertile and healthy.

 

That sounds a little odd to us here in our time.

 

Is that so? But you do believe that prayers to our God are powerful, aye?

 

Of course.

 

Well, then you understand, I’d say. Although I did not at first. Thus my journey with the book to find Brigid.

 

Brigid? Tell us about her.

 

Well, in her book, BRIGID OF IRELAND, she saved me when I was a little girl. I lived with an abusive father. I had a skin disease, leprosy. Have you heard of it?

 

Oh my, yes. Although I’ve never seen it. You are looking at me funny. Remember we live in different times.

 

And leprosy isn’t common? That’s wonderful. Well, as you can see, my skin is perfectly flawless now. That’s because after my mother sent me off with Brigid to protect me from my father, Brigid prayed over me and I was healed! I knew she had abundant power, so because I was feeling trapped inside the clan I was to marry into, and I wished to do something for my mother and her clan to help them, I thought if I took that book to Brigid I would be safe and could do some good.

 

But you were wrong?

 

I was wrong and I was right. That book had power all right, but it was not what I had thought. The words in the book were what was powerful, and Brigid? She had some challenges to overcome as well and I seemed to set them in motion. Who would have thought the ruler of the clan who owned the book would go to such lengths to get it back?

 

Overall, were you glad you went to Brigid?

 

Indeed. What a wondrous place Cill Dara is. (That means Church of the Oak) There was a bit of trouble there—sure, a lot of trouble—but nothing God and Brigid could not eventually overcome. You see, her old nemeses came back for her, plotting revenge, but also a mysterious poet she had known long ago came to visit. And what happens to them is not what I expected. I’ll say no more about that so I don’t get into trouble with the author.

 

Was there anything else you were wrong about?

 

I wasn’t going to mention it but since you asked, aye there was. My betrothed. Again, I cannot say too much.

 

So, about that book. I’ve heard that it chose who needed to hear its words. Did you know that when you stole it?

 

I did not. I will tell you the truth: it scared me.

 

I understand. You can’t spoil the plot. Thanks so much for dropping in on Novel PASTimes, Aine.

 

My pleasure. If this is what books are like in the future, I’d say they are just as mysterious. One thing I do understand is if people don’t read PAGES OF IRELAND, my story won’t be told so I hope you all will go read it. The words in that book may very well be meant for you!

 

authorphoto4cindy-thomson-LR-3Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, based on 6th-century legends (releasing this summer.) Researching her Scots-Irish roots launched a writing journey that has lasted nearly two decades. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also published articles in Internet Genealogyand Your Genealogy Todaymagazines. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband Tom live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families.

Visit her online:

www.CindysWriting.com

www.facebook.com/cindyswriting

www.twitter.com/cindyswriting

 

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Interview with Nathan Hale’s Fiancé (from The Hidden Side)

The Hidden Side CoverToday we welcome Mercy from Heidi Chiavaroli’s The Hidden Side.

Novel PASTimes: I’ve always been inspired by the late Revolutionary Spy Nathan Hale, but I never realized he planned to marry! Please, tell me your name and how you met the late Mr. Hale.

Mercy: My name is Mercy Howard. I met my beloved Nathan through a mutual friend of ours, Benjamin Tallmadge. He and Nathan attended Yale together and when Nathan visited Ben on Long Island…well, I am not certain I believe in love at first sight, but ’twasn’t long before we were sending letters across the Sound and planning a future together.

Novel PASTimes: How sweet! You mentioned Benjamin Tallmadge. Wasn’t he the head of the Revolutionary CIA?

Mercy: CI—forgive me, I’m not familiar with that.

Novel PASTimes: The Central Intelligence Agency…you know, spies?

Mercy: Oh my! One does not openly talk of such things where I come from. Spying is a business best suited for blackguards and scoundrels. Cheats and cowards. Are you certain ’tis safe to mention here?

Novel PASTimes: I assure you it is.

Mercy: Very well, then. If you insist. I’ve been wanting to unburden myself with my secret for some time.

Novel PASTimes: Secret?

 Mercy: I suppose it all began with Nathan…nay, perhaps before that. My uncle, William Howard, betrayed the Patriots when he led General Howe through Jamaica Pass. If not for his disloyalty, General Washington may have stood a chance at the Battle of Brooklyn, and New York wouldn’t be occupied by the King’s Army as it is now. 

Novel PASTimes: Ouch. I can see why that would bother you. And what about Nathan? Did you know of his espionage activities?

Mercy: My, you are bold! What must people in the 21st century be like to speak so openly of such things! Do you promise you won’t think less of him?

Novel PASTimes: Dear Mercy, I think you would be happy to know that many look on your Nathan as a hero.

Mercy: Truly? That does lighten my heart! Very well, then. Though ’tis rather intimate, I will share some…. Nathan did not impart his mission to me, though I wish he had. I saw him two nights b-before he met his demise. He acted oddly, but I thought him only nervous. My poor Nathan. He should have never been behind enemy lines. He was too open, too honest to excel in a profession that requires dishonesty.

Novel PASTimes: And what about you, Miss Howard? How did you become involved in the Culper Spy Ring—General Washington’s intelligence circle, that is?

Mercy (lowering her voice): You see, when my childhood friend, Abraham Woodhull—

Novel PASTimes: Abraham Woodhull? I love watching him on AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies!

Mercy: I’m afraid I haven’t an inkling of what you speak. Nevertheless, when Abraham first asked me to be a part of his…endeavors, I refused. ’Twas only after my sister suffered at the hands of a soldier quartering in our house that I decided I simply must do something. First Uncle William’s betrayal, then Nathan’s death, then my sister’s suffering. ’Twas more than I could stand to watch! Beneath Abraham’s urging, I decided to pay my Aunt Beatrice an extended visit in York City.

Novel PASTimes: She is a loyalist, isn’t she?

Mercy: Aye. ’Tis…complicated. Yet Aunt Beatrice is in a position that is beneficial for my—uh, activities.

Novel PASTimes: And while in Manhattan, you met a certain Major in the King’s Army, is that right? 

Mercy: John Andre…yes. I do wish he was not quite so charming. In many ways, he reminds me of my Nathan. Yet I have business to do. General Washington depends upon me, as does my family, burdened by the presence of those redcoats. Why, even Nathan’s memory bids me to hasten forth for the sake of the Patriot cause. I absolutely refuse to disappoint them.

Thank you, Mercy, for sharing so openingly here on PASTimes. We do hope you aren’t fearing too much for the survival of the Revolution. (Yes, that’s a hint.)

Heidi's Author PhotoHeidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner and grace-clinger. She loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Heidi’s debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at heidichiavaroli.com

 

 

Meet Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax from Sarah Sundin’s The Sea Before Us

Today on PASTimes we welcome a character from the latest book by Sarah Sundin!

The Sea Before Us-Book CoverName: Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax

Parents: Reginald and Margaret Fairfax, but my mother was killed in the London Blitz in 1940.

Siblings: My older brothers, Arthur and Gilbert, both served in the Royal Navy and they both died serving the crown.

Places lived: I’ve lived in London all my life.

Jobs: I’m proud to serve as an officer in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. As a “Wren,” I work in Allied Naval Headquarters in London, where I use civilian snapshots and reconnaissance photos to help create maps and diagrams for the upcoming Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

Friends: I simply adore my friends! Gwen Hamilton and Muriel Shaw serve in the Wrens with me, and my dear friend Johanna Katin works for my father.

Enemies: She isn’t quite an enemy, but I’m not fond of my commander, First Officer Julia Bliss-Baldwin. And she certainly isn’t fond of me.

Dating, marriage: The man I’ve adored since I was a schoolgirl is serving in my command, Lt. Cdr. Lawrence Eaton. I’m finally turning his head. However, a certain American naval officer, Lt. Wyatt Paxton, is making me reconsider my lifelong dream.

Do you like yourself? Not particularly. I’m too loud and enthusiastic and boisterous, and I’m cursed with freckles.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I dearly long to be suave and sophisticated, the kind of woman Lawrence Eaton could love. But most of all, I wish I could change my father’s life. He is so melancholy that he barely eats or goes to his office. And he never looks at me if he can help it.

Strongest/weakest character traits: My friends say I’m very loyal and caring, and they enjoy my daredevil spirit. However, I’m also too dramatic and boisterous, simply not proper for an English lady.

How much self-control do you have? Practically none. I’m far too impulsive.

Fears: Heights and flying.

Collections, talents: I do enjoy drawing and painting. I’m quite an amateur, but it relaxes me. Also, my artistic skill helps me create maps and diagrams for the Allies.

Food, drink: All my life I’ve had a horrid sweet-tooth. Wartime rationing has allowed me to have a trim figure for the first time.

Best way to spend a weekend: Going out with my friends, dancing, seeing the sights in London, and walking Bonnie Prince Charlie, my Scottish terrier.

What would a great gift for you be? More oil paints! They can’t be found with the war on, and I’ve had to resort to watercolors, which are too wispy and ethereal for my taste now.

When are you happy? When I’m with my friends.

What makes you angry? Very little.

What makes you sad? When others are sad, especially my father. The only person who can lift his spirits now is Wyatt.

What makes you laugh? So much. I laugh far too often for a proper lady.

Hopes and dreams: I’ve always dreamed that Lawrence would fall in love with me. Wyatt is becoming a dear friend, but how could I fall in love with an American and leave my father?

Biggest trauma: The deaths of my mother and brothers, all within one year.

What do you care about most in the world? Doing my part to bring this beastly war to an end.

Do you have a secret? That my father doesn’t love me. He can’t bear the sight of me, because I only remind him that he’s lost all the people he did love. However, I’m all he has left and I love him, so I’ll fight for him.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? Wyatt has become a dear friend. He’s kind and honest, and he does the right thing even when it hurt. He’s humble enough to admit his sins and dedicated enough to make amends. And I enjoy his company immensely.

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Wyatt is always present, and my father prefers him over Lawrence. At first I barely noticed Wyatt, but the more I do notice him, the more attractive he becomes. That simply won’t do. I need to marry an exciting man, and Wyatt is the quiet sort.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: It happens in this story, when my desire to win Lawrence’s heart clashes with my fear of flying. Simply dreadful.

 

About the book:

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, who pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France—including those of her family’s summer home—in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt turns into naval bombardment plans for D-day.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn into something more. But both of them have too much to lose to give in to love . . .

 

Sundin_SarahSarah Sundin is the best-selling author of ten historical novels, including The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turnand Through Waters Deepwere named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deepwas a finalist for the 2016 Carol Awardand won the INSPY Award.A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

Meet Violet Channing from Beside Still Waters by AnnaLee Conti

19390578_1363467877068622_3142695911782601619_oMy name is Violet Channing.  Orphaned at a young age, I found myself tossed about by life’s turbulent waters when my Aunt Mabel who raised me died.

I always wanted to be a teacher, but my education was cut short by the untimely death of my Uncle Chester. He made poor business decisions, and as a result, my aunt lost their large Victorian house in a wealthy neighborhood to the creditors at his death.

In order to support us, I had to quit normal school at the age of 18 and take the only job I could find for an unskilled woman in 1915 Boston as a seamstress in a ramshackle wooden garment factory. With its accumulated dust and lint, it was a tinderbox. Fire was my greatest fear.

My wages only afforded Aunt Mabel and me a cold-water flat in a dirty tenement with stark chimneys that belched soot-ladened air. When Aunt Mabel got sick, we couldn’t afford a doctor.

“It’s just a cold,” she said.

But when she began to cough up blood, I quit taking a lunch to work so we could pay his fee. “Consumption,” he told Aunt Mabel. “Keep warm and rest.”

Then, he called me aside. “There’s nothing I can do for her. Her lungs are too far gone. She probably only has a few weeks.”

Heartsick, I quit my job to take care of her.

Now, she’s gone, and I have to figure out what to do with my future. I can’t bear to go back to that firetrap of a factory. At the corner grocery, I buy a few necessities and a copy of the Boston Globe with the last of my money. In the corner of the Classifieds, an ad catches my eye: “WANTED: a young lady to be a companion and tutor to a sick child.”

I read the fine print. No teaching credentials required. Room and board provided. Can this be the answer?

Before I grow fainthearted, I pen an application and mail it off to the address.

A week later, I receive a cream-colored envelope addressed to me in a feminine hand. Excitement pulses through me as I withdraw the note which requests that I come for an interview on Saturday at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Laying aside my mourning clothes, I dress carefully in my best, though slightly out of fashion, outfit. At the address, a three-story brick house in Cambridge, a gracious lady invites me in. Over tea and snickerdoodles, a treat I hadn’t enjoyed since my uncle died, Mrs. Henderson describes the job.

Her granddaughter, Jenny, was recovering from rheumatic fever. Her mother had died, and the girl’s father needs a nanny and tutor for her as he has to be away frequently on his job as a railroad engineer.

The job offer sounds too good to be true until she tells me where they live—in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory!

Uncle Chester had regaled Aunt Mabel and me with his reading of Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” All I know about the Yukon is that it is wild and frigid. Do I have the courage to go there?

I think of my shabby apartment. I have nothing to keep me here, but will I be jumping from a city firetrap into frozen wilderness icebox?

I decide to take the leap. Sailing up the Inside Passage of Alaska on my way to Whitehorse, I fall in love with a dashing Yukon riverboat captain. But do we live happily ever after? That’s a secret revealed only in Beside Still Waters.

 

DSC00225Edit3ANNALEE CONTI’s experiences growing up in a missionary family in Alaska in the fifties and sixties provide inspiration for her writing. She has published numerous short stories, devotionals, articles, and church school curriculum on assignment for Gospel Publishing House, as well as four books. Beside Still Waters is the third novel in her Alaskan Waters Trilogy that tells the life and death saga of a Norwegian immigrant family who battles the beautiful but often treacherous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska to find love and happiness in the midst of tragedies.

AnnaLee is also a teacher and ordained minister, who resides with her husband in the Mid-Hudson River Valley. Together, they have pastored churches in New York State for more than 35 years and are now retired. Learn more about AnnaLee and her books at www.annaleeconti.com and sign up for her blog at http://annaleeconti.blogspot.com/.

A Conversation with Austin Goddard from A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

A Borrowed Dream-Book CoverIt’s our pleasure to welcome Austin Goddard to PASTimes today!

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: It’s a pleasure to meet you, Austin.  Perhaps I shouldn’t presume, but since your name is Austin, I assume you’re a native Texan.

 

AUSTIN: No, ma’am.  I’m afraid I can’t claim that honor, but I will say that I’m grateful the Lord led me to Cimarron Creek.  The Texas Hill Country is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: That sounds as if you’ve lived in a lot of places.  Where else have you called home?

 

AUSTIN: Well …

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: I can see that I’ve made you uncomfortable.  That wasn’t my intention, but I am curious about where you’ve lived.

 

AUSTIN: You won’t repeat what I’m going to tell you, will you?

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: Of course not.  This is just between us.

 

AUSTIN: All right.  I’ll trust you.  I was born in Oklahoma, but I’ve lived in Philadelphia and Paris.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: Paris, France?  The city with the Louvre, Notre Dame cathedral, and the river Seine?

 

AUSTIN: That’s the one.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: Is it as beautiful as I’ve heard?

 

AUSTIN: I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it is indeed a beautiful city.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: And yet you left it.

 

AUSTIN: It was time to bring my daughter home.  I wanted her raised in America.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: The ladies at church are all talking about her and how quiet she is.  I can’t help but wondering whether she’s always been that way.

 

AUSTIN: Not always, but it was difficult for Hannah to leave Philadelphia.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: Then why didn’t you stay?

 

AUSTIN: There was no choice.  I had to keep her safe.  And, please, don’t ask me to explain.  There are some things I can’t talk about, and that’s one.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: I’m sorry.  Once again, I’ve made you uncomfortable, and that wasn’t what I had intended.  I just wanted to get to know you.  Before today, all I knew was that you were a widower and the most eligible bachelor in Cimarron Creek.

 

AUSTIN: Eligible bachelor, bah!  When you talk to the other ladies, do me a favor and tell them that I’m not looking to remarry.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: But surely Hannah needs a mother.

 

AUSTIN: Maybe so, but I don’t need a wife.  Especially not one of the young ladies that have been paraded before me.  If I wanted a wife, I’d pick someone like …

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: Don’t stop there. Like who?

 

AUSTIN: Like … nobody.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: Not even Catherine Whitfield?

 

AUSTIN: Catherine’s different from the simpering misses.  I’ll grant you that.  She’s a wonderful teacher, and Hannah loves her, but the simple fact is, I’m not planning to marry her or anyone.

 

NOVEL PASTIMES: So you say.  So you say.

 

Cabot_AmandaAmanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best Awards. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at www.amandacabot.com.

Review: The Lost Garden by Kate Kerrigan

f2d968_899c0f0fecec444c9f5299bf81bcdd46~mv2_d_1410_2250_s_2The Lost Garden by Kate Kerrigan

Aileen Doherty is a young Irish girl who accompanies her father and brothers on a trip to work in Scotland picking tatties. She meets Jimmy Walsh who is there doing the same, and they fall in love. But a tragic accident pulls them apart. Stung by grief and abandoned by her mother, Aileen begins working on an abandoned garden. At the same time, disfigured by burns he suffered in the accident, Jimmy falls deeply into the underworld of London. Both have to work through their grief and find their way back home.

I enjoyed this book very much. The story was about healing and continuing on by creating beauty and love in the pieces of the characters’ lives they had left and also in new adventures they found. The author writes from the west of Ireland, and although the story is set just post WWII, the setting comes alive, as do the quirky characters. The style is different from what I usually read. The author writes from an omniscient point of view, so the reader gets to know what each character is thinking and feeling in every scene. She does this well, and once I got to used to it, I was totally emerged in the story. It felt like pure Irish storytelling.

f2d968_b1ae76a1d58a4703b26479d7c25cdf47~mv2

For those of you who read strictly Christian fiction, this is not that genre. However, even the harsh world of prostitution and drug use was handled with care, and for me it was not at all offensive. There were several allegorical images, such as the ashes from the fire where loved ones perished growing a never-before species of flower. This gave the book an overall literary feel that reminded me of novels by Susanna Kearsley, a Canadian author. If you enjoy her novels, I think you’ll also like Kate Kerrigan’s. Visit her website here.

Thanks to the author from providing a free electronic copy of this book for review. I have given my honest opinion.

 

Meet Hannah from Jill Eileen Smith’s A Passionate Hope

Today we have the pleasure of meeting a character from the Bible, Hannah, as told in Jill Eileen Smith’s novel A Passionate Hope.

A Passionate Hope-Book CoverName:

My name is Hannah, which means “favor or grace”. Looking back on my life, I can say now that God has shown me both.

Parents:

My father is Hyam. My mother is Adva. I am their only daughter, though I have many brothers and sisters-in-law.

Siblings:

My brothers are Barukh, Chaim, Dan, and Gilad.

Places lived:

I have lived all of my life in the hills of Ephraim.

 

Jobs:

Job?

I do not understand this foreign word.

Work then:

Ah, work. My work is to do the daily tasks of womanhood—to care for our home, keep us clothed and fed and to meet my husband’s needs. My husband, Elkanah, is a Levite and I do what I can to help him carry out his duties in that role. I also sell some of my weaving in the marketplace. This helps my husband and makes me feel useful.

Friends:

My husband’s sister Meira used to be my closest friend, but once she married, we rarely saw each other. My sister-in-law Dana has become my only friend and confidant in our large and often contentious household.

Enemies:

I wish I had no enemies, but my sister-wife Peninnah has done her best to not live at peace with me. I find her presence trying.

Children:

I have no children—at least I did not in the early years. That is why Elkanah married Peninnah. But God blessed us later with Samuel and many more sons and daughters.

What person do you most admire?

I have always loved and admired my husband. To think that Elkanah loves me as he does…I never dreamed he would care for me.

Overall outlook on life:

Life…we are here such a short time and then we rest in Sheol. But I have always believed that one day I would see God. He is the one I long for, and when life has been at its worst, He has carried me through each struggle. What would I do without Him?

Do you like yourself?

I find this question confusing. We do not spend time thinking about liking ourselves. This sounds like someone who is focused too much on the wrong things. When I think of Adonai or Elkanah, I do not think of Hannah, though I will admit, sometimes I feel sorry for myself when Peninnah is near.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?

I would have chosen a path that kept our marriage between Elkanah and me alone. Sharing a husband is not God’s best and it has made life miserable for everyone at times.

How do others view you?

I have no idea what people think of me.

Fears:

I fear, rather I used to fear never bearing a son, never outliving my shame. But as I said, God has shown me favor and grace. I praise Him for His goodness to me.

When are you happy?

When I am alone with Adonai. I love to walk in the hills and pray. They say we should pray at the Tabernacle, and I try…but I feel more of God’s presence in the creation that surrounds me. I do love to sing in worship with the serving women in Shiloh though.

What makes you angry?

I grow angry at the corruption of the priests in Shiloh—sometimes to the point of despair. When will God answer? When will He restore worship to what it is meant to be? Yet there is nothing to be done but wait and pray.

What makes you sad?

I will admit, every time Peninnah birthed another child, I wanted to run far from home. The joy over her success reminded me all over again of my failures.

What makes you laugh?

Elkanah. We manage to find humor in the strangest places. Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself or you will see life as too difficult.

Hopes and dreams:

I hope my children grow up to follow Adonai all of their days.

Biggest trauma:

Facing the fact that I had to release Elkanah to marry another woman. I couldn’t let him know how hard that was for me, but a piece of my heart broke away that day and I never felt the same again.

What do you care about most in the world?

Adonai. Pleasing Him. And then…having children consumed me until it no longer did.

Do you have a secret?

Yes, but I can’t share it, lest it stop being a secret.

Thank you, Hannah, for giving us this glimpse into your life.

Smith_JillEileen_Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Wives of King David, the Wives of the Patriarchs, the Loves of King Solomon, and the Daughters of the Promised Land series. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan. Learn more at www.jilleileensmith.com.

Introducing Lady Elisabeth from Laura Frantz’s The Lacemaker

 

The Lacemaker-Book CoverToday we welcome Lady Elisabeth from the novel The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz.

 Novel PASTimes: Welcome, Lady Elisabeth. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Lady Elisabeth: I would walk through the gardens of Ty Mawr and Ty Bryn and spend the day with my twins in the fresh Virginia air. We’d enjoy a picnic of my husband’s favorite Welsh bara brith and tea and the like. I’d pick flowers for the foyer and bedchambers of Ty Mawr.

Novel PASTimes: What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

Lady Elisabeth: Hmm…my dear husband, Noble, told me he first thought me pretty in a pale sort of way. I think people once viewed me as the spoiled only daughter of an overbearing aristocrat and believed me to be timid and vapid. Appearances are deceiving!

Novel PASTimes: What’s your idea of a good marriage?

Lady Elisabeth: Trust. And friendship. Both make a firm foundation. Noble first noticed me when my life turned upside down. Though it was a terrible trial at the time, if that was what led to marriage, my downfall was worth the price if that was what brought us together. At first, with others questioning whether or not I was a Tory spy, he had to determine whether to trust me. His life was on the line. Mine, too. I knew I could trust him from the outset when so many proved false. I trusted him with my life when my own father and supposed friends failed me. Most importantly, a shared faith is paramount. That has helped us weather a war and far more.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most proud of about your life?

Lady Elisabeth: Using the skills as a lacemaker learned from my mother and grandmother to help me through a tumultuous time. Remaining a lady when my title and lifestyle were stripped from me. Remembering who I belong to as the daughter of an eternal king if not an earthly earl.

Novel PASTimes: What do you believe about God?

Lady Elisabeth: I believe He holds all the world and events of history in His mighty hands. People of my day often refer to God as a distant being and call Him ‘Providence’ but I believe in a personal God who has a plan for my life, always bringing good from evil, always giving me hope. Sometimes His protection and leading are best seen in hindsight.

Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life?

Lady Elisabeth: Losing my home and family at the start of the American Revolution. Yet God has brought tremendous good out of heartache. I mean, here I am with a true, happy family in a beautiful house of my own with children and a loving husband. Before I had an unhappy, estranged family always at odds.

Novel PASTimes: Tell me about your best friend.

Lady Elisabeth: Once upon a time I would have said my former friends in Williamsburg, but few have stayed true. My husband is my best friend. He was my best friend since first meeting though I didn’t know it back then. He proved his friendship time after time, standing by me even at the risk of losing his own friends and fellow Patriots who suspected me of being a spy.
Novel PASTimes: What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Lady Elisabeth: I rather like my old friend’s, Mister Benjamin Franklin:

The body of B. Franklin,

Printer,

Like the cover of an old book

Its contents torn out,

And stripped of its lettering and gilding,

lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be wholly lost,

for it will, as he believed, appear once more,

in a new and more perfect edition,

corrected and amended

by the Author.

Novel PASTimes: What a unique and thought-provoking epitaph. What are you most afraid of?

Lady Elisabeth: Losing my children. So many young ones don’t live beyond childhood in this day and age. They’ve brought such joy to my life. I’d like to keep them little forever, but in health and prosperity. But I also know, if the Lord were to take them, that heaven is far better than here.

Novel PASTimes: What advice would you give to those in times of war?

Lady Elisabeth: Live as simply and gratefully as you can. Help in practical ways. Pray. Let no one who comes to you go away hungry or ill-clothed. Be the hands and feet of our Lord.

Thank you, Lady Elisabeth, for giving us that inspiration.

Frantz_LauraLaura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA bestselling author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, A Moonbow Night, and the Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.