Book Review: Everything She Didn’t Say by Jane Kirkpatrick

Everything She Didn’t Say

by Jane Kirkpatrick
Revell, 978-0-8007-2701-7
September 2018

Reviewed by Cindy Thomson
Everything She Didn't Say-Book Cover
Jane Kirkpatrick’s newest novel is based on the diaries of Carrie Strahorn, a woman who during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century accompanied her railroad employee husband as he wrote promotion for westward settlers and later helped him build several new towns when he became an investor. Carrie wrote her own published pieces for magazines along with her account of their adventures in the American West.

It’s hard to imagine how pioneers grappled with establishing settlements in deserts, and the accounts of how they rode on stage coaches in Indian territory very much exposed with little to defend themselves with gave me shivers. Carrie’s longing for a family and how she resolved issues in her marriage made her a character readers will root for, even though modern readers can’t truly relate to the magnitude of her struggles.

Kirkpatrick takes the view that Strahorn probably gave a tidy version of her experiences in her memoir and in letters to her family, so she imagined what life had really been like for her based on historical accounts. There were parts of Carrie’s actual writings that do give the reader the idea that she’s not telling the whole story. These appear at the end of the chapters and are what Kirkpatrick built upon. The author is a master at this kind of storytelling. I’m a Jane Kirkpatrick fan. I love how she brings life to real historical figures, people that I probably never would have learned about if I hadn’t read her novels. The historical notes at the end of the book are not to be missed.

It did take me awhile to get into this story. If that’s the case for you, I recommend you keep reading. For me the pace really picked up in the last third of the book. The problem sometimes with telling the story of a real-life person is that there any many things that occur during a lifetime, and some of those things don’t move the story along at a pace fiction readers expect, and yet they really happened so the author wants to include them. Overall, I enjoyed the story. If you are a historical fiction fan, and it’s likely the readers of this blog are, I think you will enjoy Everything She Didn’t Say.

I was given a review copy by the publisher with no obligation to post a review. I have given my honest opinion.

Meet Enya from Cindy Thomson’s Enya’s Son

Finally Home LOHello, Enya. I’ve heard this is not the correct spelling. Could you tell us your correct name?

 

Greetings. It’s my pleasure to speak with you today. My name is Eithne, but my author did not think modern folks would understand my name so she changed it a bit. I really don’t know why. It is pronounced Awn-ya.

 

Oh, well, that makes sense. You are after all, from the sixth century, aren’t you?

 

You are correct.

 

At the beginning of the story, your author mentions a Bible verse from 1 Samuel: I am a woman who is deeply troubled. Was that referring to you?

 

Well, it’s referring to Hannah of the Scriptures, of course. But yes, I was also a woman deeply troubled, and just like Hannah, a priest misunderstood when I was praying. He thought I was drunk or some such thing. I’m not one for whispering or keeping quiet at all.

 

You were praying for a child, then?

 

Aye, I was, and God heard my prayer.

 

Was becoming a mother all you hoped it would be?

 

(Laughing) I had no idea what an adventure I was in for! My heart never stopped aching for that lad.

 

Because you sent him to be raised in the church?

 

That and more. ’Tis a hard thing for a mother to let go, and here in the wild landscape of Ireland anything can happen, and often does.

 

The plague, for example?

 

Awful business, that. My son lost his close friend to that pestilence, and I nearly lost my husband Fe to a terrible fever. Life is uncertain in my world.

 

Tell us about your husband.

 

Fe is the strongest man I know, and I don’t just mean muscle. He is my rock. It took me a long time to realize what a wonderful blessing God had given me. You see, I came from a family in the south who did not treat me right. They thought I was special because of my birth order.

(Taps finger on chin.) And, I suppose I might be special after all. Not the way they assumed, but special to God. I cannot tell you why. My author is shaking her head at me. Please read my book and find out!

 

Thank you, Enya. We would like to take a trip to sixth-century Ireland with you in your book!

***

Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, third in the Daughters of Ireland series based on ancient legends. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also written articles for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today magazines, and children’s short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. She has also co-authored a baseball biography. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families, and can be found online at www.cindyswriting.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/cindyswriting and on Twitter: @cindyswriting.authorphoto4cindy-thomson-LR-3

Meet Bess Crawford from Charles Todd’s A Forgotten Place

Thanks for joining us!

41GH+Si0kELPeople have described you as independent, steadfast, intelligent, and resilient. You always seem to find a patient who needs your help and you never turn your back on them, even if it means risking your life. You are a nurse who will not back down from a situation or a mystery.  But you also have scars from being on the front lines and seeing so many men maimed and killed during this Great War.

Elise Cooper: Why did you choose to become a nurse? 

 

Bess Crawford: After my father retired from the army we went back to England. Then war came. Of course, I couldn’t march off with the regiment to France, however much it meant to me. The next best thing was to be a nursing Sister, and save as many of the wounded as I could. Unfortunately, some of those we saved had to go back into the line and were killed. But we did what we could, and I believe we made their dying easier even when we couldn’t make them well.  It was difficult, not an easy task, there on the front lines. I saw some terrible things, and sometimes I dream about them. But I have no regrets. And I am so grateful to my parents for letting me train for the Queen Alexandra’s. They could have said no, but they understood why I felt I must do this.

 

EC: Do you think WWI brought more power to women, as many took on professions? 

 

BC: The answer must be no.  We didn’t achieve any power at all, not really. It was always made clear that we were replacing men who were needed in the field. Even the nurses knew that many Army officers were appalled at the thought of women so close to the Front, and they’d have been just as happy to have orderlies take over our work. The fact that we were trained to deal with wounds didn’t enter into it. We were women.  I’ve heard that some of the Australian nurses in Egypt were denied resources, to force them to give up. They didn’t, of course, but it was a rough patch, and it was the patients who suffered.  However, I think we showed our country that we could pull our weight when England was in danger, and she didn’t collapse from our mismanagement. (Bess smiles.)

We grew vegetables, we took over desks where men could be spared, we worked in factories and drove omnibuses—and we did it all well. That was what mattered. And after the war, some women will be allowed to vote, if the Government keeps its promise to the Suffragettes. There will be restrictions, I’m sure, and I probably shan’t be old enough.  Nor do I own property or stand as head of a household. Still, it will be a beginning. Although some men will go on claiming we aren’t emotionally capable of wise decisions. I ask you!

 

EC: When the War is finally over would you like to be a detective? 

 

BC:(Laughing.)  I don’t think so. Heavens, no.  I did what I had to do, out of duty and a sense of what was right.  But my cousin, Melinda Trent, also a soldier’s daughter, tells me that trouble always knows where to find me.  (Laughter fades.) That could be true. I was part of a regiment, however small a part that was. And I expect that will shape my life for a long time. When someone is in very great trouble, how do you shake your head and just walk away?  The Army never runs. How could I?

 

EC: How has your dad influenced you? 

 

BC: We call him Colonel Sahib, which is what the native soldiers called him. It’s a term of respect, rather like Colonel Sir. He was such a good officer, and the Army called him back during the war to do certain missions and deal with certain matters—my mother and I never knew what these were. But he continues to serve in any way he can. And that’s good, because he’s wise and experienced and level-headed. I have always admired and loved him, and I can speak to him on any subject, and he listens to me and gives me his honest opinion. He dealt with a regiment and he still found time for a small daughter.

 

EC:  Do you think he admired you for serving during WWI?

 

BC:Although he’s never said it, I think he was very proud of what I did in the war. Even though he must have been terrified for me there in the forward aid stations, he gave me permission to go. He didn’t want me to have my own motorcar, either, but he just shook his head and accepted it when I drove up.

 

EC: How has your mom influenced you? 

 

BC: My mother’s rather exceptional too!  As the Colonel’s Lady, she had a good deal of responsibility toward the wives and children of the men in our regiment, and she took that quite seriously.  She’s the daughter of a country squire, well-educated, brought up with great marriage prospects because there was money in the family. And then she fell in love with a handsome Army officer, and my poor grandparents were appalled!  But they had the good sense to see that it was really love, not just the uniform, and they agreed to the marriage. She insisted I learn to play the piano, draw, sew and cook and run a household, while I was more interested in riding and other exciting things.  And I am so glad she did, because even wild little girls grow up to be women. She’s warm-hearted, sensible, calm in emergencies, a good tennis player, and I love her more than I can say.  She married a man with responsibilities, grave ones, and she’s given him the support and love he needed to be his best. I hope I can do the same one day.

 

EC: How come you have not had any intimate relationships? 

 

BC:(Laughing).  This is early 1919, Elise, nice women don’t have “intimate relationships.” And I respect my parents too much to be anything but the woman they want me to be. I’ve had so many friends, many of them men because of my upbringing, and I enjoy working with them and talking to them. I didn’t expect Sergeant Lassiter to propose, you know.

 

EC:  Why didn’t you accept it?

 

BC:That was such a terrible moment, because I knew he meant his proposal, and I wasn’t ready to fall in love. Well, I couldn’t, could I? I’d have been dismissed from the Queen Alexandra’s. And this was my work, my duty–I’d taken it on and I wanted to keep serving as long as the wounded needed care. Several of my friends, including my flat mate, Diana, had to keep an engagement secret for several years, or lose her own place. I didn’t feel I could do that. I tried to let him down as gently as I could, but that’s painful all the same.

 

EC: How would you describe Simon and your interactions? 

 

BC(Smiling.)  Simon is Simon.  He lied about his age, you know. Tall and strong as he was, he got away with it, but he was just a wild boy. He exasperated my father, but the Colonel Sahib could see beyond the wildness, and he knew what Simon could be capable of.  He took him under his wing, made him a man, and he asked him to go back to England to train as an officer, but Simon refused.  I think my father knows something about him that my mother and I don’t, because he never insisted on Simon going back. My mother did something for Simon out in India that he owes her for. Something rather serious, I think, but I don’t know about that either. And it’s Simon’s secret, not mine. He’s become the son my father never had. And that’s precious to me.

 

EC:  So do you consider him a brother?

 

BC:Simon is also the brother I never had, in and out of my life since India, since I was small. (Looking away.) I’m terribly fond of him.  And he’s been such a rock…

 

EC: What effect has the war had on you? 

 

BC: There was fighting out in India, wounds, men dying, trouble with the tribes along the Frontier with Afghanistan. We saw that and I thought I’d seen war. But the Great War was so much worse. And I was grown, a nurse. No one spared me the bad news, as they tried to do in India when I was small.  I have nightmares, as I’ve mentioned. And I have had to learn to put my emotions aside and try to help a patient, no matter how terrible his wound might be.  A nurse must remain calm, no matter what. And the discipline I learned in India, where it could be so dangerous, and the discipline I learned in nursing, to be objective and sensible, have helped.  I hope some of what I’ve seen will fade with time. One day I’ll want to marry, have children, and I don’t want them to see the shadows of war in me.  My mother is a good model there—she never let me feel threatened or afraid of anything, even when she was most worried about my father out in the field in India.

 

EC: From your viewpoint what effect has the war had on the fighting men? 

 

BC: Of course, there are the dead, so many, many of them.  And the missing. Many men were taken prisoner during the fighting too. This is never good for morale, but they were all so brave, the men I worked with.  You know, they didn’t fear death as much as they did losing a limb or being terribly disfigured—burns, facial wounds, ugly scars. I have worked with so many amputees and burn victims, and I have sometimes seen them break. Especially when they realize they can’t support their family. The last thing they want is to be a burden. Even now since the war is over, we’ve lost too many to depression. I find it so sad.

 

EC:  There are emotional wounds?

 

BC:  These are the other wounds you don’t see. Of the mind. Shell shock. People who don’t know anything about war call that cowardice. I know too well that it is the shock of losing so many men in too short a time.  The officers felt this most particularly.  New recruits would arrive, and before anyone could learn more than their names, they were killed. And an officer had to send men back over the top even when he knew it was useless to try again. There were the men caught in shell blasts, who died without a mark on them. Others deafened or shocked senseless by the tunnels going up.  I was so proud of our Army. But when a battle lasts for months, as it did on the Somme, men will break. Some will be stronger afterward, though.  I have seen that too.

 

EC: What have you learned about yourself after serving in the War? 

 

BC: I went into nursing with great hopes of saving lives. I had to learn that one can’t save them all, no matter how skilled the doctors and nurses might be. I had to learn how to sit beside a dying man and keep his spirits up to the end, with smiles and a brave front.  I had to face German soldiers taking over my aid station and keep calm, keep my patients safe.  I had to watch over them in ambulances being fired upon from the air, or crossing countryside where there were no roads and my patients suffered. I’ve crossed seas where U-boats were waiting, and knew that if we went down, I might not survive, but none of my patients had a chance. I’ve had other problems to cope with, of course, helping people in various ways. I’ve learned to be braver than I thought I could be, but I try never to be foolish. Still, I hate injustice, I hate to see people being hurt or taken advantage of. I always have. The war hasn’t changed that.

 

EC: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you want to go considering you have been to many places? 

 

BC: I’ve had an invitation to a wedding in Ireland!  A nurse I served with on Britannic. The ship sank, but we survived.  I’m so happy for her.  First, I must go back to France for a few weeks. Matron has something she wants me to help her to do there. And I want to go back to India. Melinda Crawford, my cousin, would like me to travel with her when it’s safe to go. We want Simon to come with us. He’s reluctant to return to India. But Melinda will persuade him, I think. And my parents would feel happier if we weren’t traveling so far alone.  Melinda was a heroine in the Great Indian Mutiny. Imagine that. She’s traveled everywhere. I’d like to see South Africa. Perhaps Canada or America. So much of the world is unsettled now, so perhaps I shall have to be patient. (Smiles.) Or I might marry and never travel at all. Who knows?

 

EC: What do you do to relax? 

 

BC: I used to ride quite often in India. Horses didn’t fare well in Africa, with the tsetse flies and other diseases, and so I didn’t learn to ride until I was in India. I enjoy a fast game of tennis. I enjoy reading. I had a very good governess who made reading exciting. My father taught me to play chess, too. As a child, I liked putting up fruits and jams with my mother and our cook, but my favorite thing was helping make our Christmas Puddings.  And eating them too, of course. (Smiles.) I love to drive my own motorcar but don’t have many opportunities at present. I’ve driven Simon’s—it’s larger and more powerful than mine, but I can manage it. Although the first time I turned the crank on that one, I thought my elbow would break!  My mother drives as well. I enjoy parties, but we haven’t had many since the war began. I’m quite a good dancer, and I rather enjoy that too. But so many of my dancing partners are dead now. So sad.

 

EC: If you had a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years? 

 

BC: Oh my!  In five years?  I shall surely have finished nursing. Unless there is another war, of course.  Married?  I shan’t even be thirty by then. Before the war I’d be considered a spinster now! (Laughs.) Ah well. Perhaps someone will still wish to marry me. Simon tells me that I’m too stubborn. Well, he isn’t married either, so there!

 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams? 

 

BC:For peace. I’ve seen enough death. It’s time the world learned to get along.

 

EC: Anything else you would like to say that has not been asked? 

 

BC:  You’ve been quite formidably thorough, you know. I’ve found myself thinking about things I haven’t put into words even to myself.  I just got back from a most beautiful part of Wales. There were some rather awful things going on there, but some happiness came of that too.  I’m glad. I’ve been summoned to London to the Queen Alexandra’s HQ to speak to Matron about an assignment in France. They’re talking about Peace there, but they don’t seem to be very friendly about it. I don’t know just what I’m to do there, but I’ll find out in London.  Wish me luck. But there’s the Irish wedding in June, that’s to look forward to. My parents are a little worried about Ireland, but I shall manage, After all, I’m an Army Nursing Sister. What harm could come to me in Ireland? I nursed Irish troops during the war…

 

BC: Thank you, Elise. It’s been a pleasure. (Laughs) I don’t believe I’ve ever been interviewed before. Life is always full of unexpected things. And there’s Simon, arriving to drive me home. He’s amused by all this. I shan’t hear the end of it, you know.

 

 EC:Thank you for doing this, much appreciated!

***

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels.CharlesTodd_7861_retouched

 

 

Katie Stuckey Stopped By from Jan Drexler’s The Sound of Distant Thunder

The Sound of Distant Thunder-Book CoverName: My name is Katie Stuckey.

Parents: Papa’s name is Gustav, and Mama is Margaretta, but I only call them Mama and Papa.

Siblings: I have three brothers and two sisters. They are all married, and I have nineteen nieces and nephews. My siblings are much older than I am, and they were all born in Alsace-Lorraine, in Europe, before my family came here to Ohio twenty years ago.

Places lived: I have only lived here on our farm in Weaver’s Creek.

Jobs: I have never worked away from home, although I think it would be fun to be a mother’s helper for some family.

Friends: My friends are Millie Beiler and Rosie Keck. I’m also becoming friends with Jonas’ sisters, Ruby and Elizabeth, even though they are older than I am.

Enemies: I’ve never liked Ned Hamlin, but I rarely see him. And Elizabeth’s husband, Reuben Kaufman is just like him.

Dating, marriage: I’m going to marry Jonas Weaver. Isn’t that exciting? But Papa says we can’t marry until after my eighteenth birthday.

Children: I hope to have many children. I want to have two girls first, and then boys. Jonas wants to have boys first. Isn’t that just what a man would say?

What person do you most admire? Lydia Weaver, Jonas’ mother. My Mama is so demanding and in a bad mood much of the time, but Lydia always welcomes me into their home for a cup of tea or to share a receipt for cookies or one of Jonas’ favorite meals.

Overall outlook on life: I can’t wait for my life to start! When Jonas and I get married, it will be wonderful.

Do you like yourself? Most of the time. I try to have a fun time and help others have fun, too.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I would like to be older. It is so difficult to wait until Jonas and I can marry.

How are you viewed by others? My friends like me, and Lena, my brother Hans’ wife says she likes for me to visit. Sometimes though, I think Mama considers me to be a little girl still. I wish she would let me grow up.

Physical appearance: I have brown hair and eyes, just like the rest of my family. I’m a little plumper than my friends, though. Millie says I take after Papa, but I’d rather be slim like Ruby and Elizabeth.

Strongest/weakest character traits: I don’t like to be alone with men, other than Jonas and my family. That’s my weakest trait. My strongest trait is that I will always be faithful to Jonas. He is my one true love.

How much self-control do you have? None. If there are fresh cookies on the table, I’ll eat them.

Fears: Strange men.

What people like best about you: I’m friendly to all the girls. Millie and Becky are my closest friends, but I get along with everyone.

Interests and favorites: I’ve recently begun making a quilt. It’s the first one I’ve made all on my own, and I have enjoyed choosing the colors and the pattern. I’m afraid Mama will say it’s too fancy, but it’s for me and Jonas.

Food, drink: I love pies of all kinds, and cookies. Hot tea is my favorite drink in the winter. I had lemonade one time in the summer, and I’d like to try it again. I think it could easily become my favorite.

Books: I liked to read when I was in school, and I remember enjoying Uncle Tom’s Cabin very much. I wasn’t able to finish it, though. Our teacher passed away suddenly and the school was closed.

Best way to spend a weekend: Sundays are my favorite day. We have church every other week, and the off-church Sundays are spent with our family.

What would a great gift for you be? Something for our new home. Jonas gave me a lamp for Christmas and it is very pretty.

When are you happy? I’m happy when I’m with Jonas.

What makes you angry? When Mama and Papa treat me like a little girl.

What makes you sad? Being the last one at home. I wish I had a brother or sister that was close to my age.

What makes you laugh? Being with Jonas. He likes to tease me.

Hopes and dreams: I like to go to the house Jonas is building for us and dream about what it will be like when we are married. I like to pretend I can see our children playing in the yard.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I killed a man – or at least he died because of me. But please, don’t tell anyone. I’d rather forget about it.

Wow!

Biggest trauma: My last day of school. It was terrible and embarrassing, and then Teacher Harrison… well, I don’t think I’ll say any more.

What do you care about most in the world? Besides Jonas, I care about my nieces and nephews. They are all so sweet and fun to be around, but each one is different from the other. I spend all year making Christmas presents for them.

Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Katie!

Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband, where she enjoys hiking and spending time with her expanding family. She is the author of several Love Inspiredhistorical novels, as well as Hannah’s Choice, Mattie’s Pledge (a 2017 Holt Medallion finalist), and Naomi’s Hope.

Drexler_Jan

 

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT LANGFORD FROM THE GLASS OCEAN BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS, LAUREN WILLIG, and KAREN WHITE

Glass_Ocean copyThank you for doing this. You have had some hard knocks in your life. As a British gentleman who lives during the Victorian years you had to conform to your father’s wishes.  Now you are heading back to England, after taking some time away in America, on the lavish ocean liner, Lusitania.  I am sure there are times on that ship where you tried to put the world behind you, but I am also sure you understand the inherit dangers considering the Germans warned all passengers that they are sailing at their own risk. 

 

Let’s start out by going back in time.

 

Elise Cooper: Do you think your childhood impacted who you are today?

 

Robert Langford:  You want me to talk about my childhood.  You Americans.  Always so familiar.  Next, you’ll be wanting to call everyone by their first names.  Doesn’t everyone’s childhood impact who they are?  It was a normal childhood: growing up at Langford Hall, barley water with Nanny, being brought down to the drawing room once a day to see Mother and Father, that is when he was down from London, listening to the sound of my mother’s piano playing through the closed doors of the music room.  Just like anyone’s childhood.  Well, at least I had my brother Jamie…

 

EC: Why did you trail off, you appear deep in thought?

 

RL:  You haven’t heard about the accident?  I thought everyone knew.  My father certainly made sure everyone knew.  Jamie, my older brother, and I were sailing.  My brother was fearless and brave and very clever.  The perfect brother.  The perfect son.  Just perfect, really.  They do say whom the gods love die young.  Or perhaps it’s just easier to blame the gods than blame myself.  I was the one who should have drowned that day. I was the one who went overboard. When Jamie went after me….

 

EC:  Do you need a few minutes?

 

RL:Ahem.  I beg your pardon.  My glass appears to be empty, a lamentable oversight.  I must remedy it.

 

EC: Let me rephrase the question, while growing up, did you feel like a stepchild regarding how your father interacted with you?

 

RL:  Ah, that’s better. Mmmm, a stepchild?  There was never any doubt I was a true-born Langford, but I was a second son.  I was meant to be superfluous.  I never begrudged Jamie his place and I was content to live in his shadow.  Once he died, it was clear to everyone that I could never fill his shoes, so I selected the squeakiest shoes I could find.

 

EC: Is one of your hobbies playing the piano?

 

RL:  Hobby—what a quaint way of putting it.  I’ve been known to dabble.  If you want to hear a true virtuoso, you should listen to Caroline…pardon me, Mrs. Hochstetter.

 

EC: Any other hobbies?

 

RL:  Espionage, alcohol, and bedeviling my father.

 

EC: Espionage, is that why you want to be a spy novelist?

 

RL:  Have I spoken of this?  I’m not aware.  Unless you’re referring to those little pieces I wrote for the New York TimesandThe Spectator.  Those aren’t meant to be fiction.  I do enjoy the odd novel, but I sometimes find their plots too fantastical to be true.

 

EC: Being an Englishman it appears you like to tease your American friends about their different habits and culture?

 

RL:  When the Americans manage to acquire a culture, I will make a note to tease them. I do find this side of the pond quite refreshing.  One is freed from the heavy gaze of one’s ancestors.

 

EC: You are heading back home to England on the RMS Lusitania. Why travel knowing it would be dangerous?

 

RL:  Langfords laugh in the face of danger.  Have I told you about my ancestor the Admiral?

 

EC: If you are from a military family don’t you have some guilt about not enlisting to fight in WWI?

 

RL:Isn’t the pen meant to be mightier than the sword? We all serve in our own way.

 

EC: For those of us who never went on a cruise ship can you please describe it?

 

RL:  What is a… cruise ship?  Are you referring to an ocean liner?  It is a floating conveyance meant to mimic the sort of hotel frequented by debutantes, dowagers, and dandies who prefer to travel with all the comforts of home– assuming your home is in Mayfair or on Fifth Avenue.  I understand there may also be a second class.

 

EC: You were seen breaking some rules of class by offering a lower-class traveler first class privileges?

 

RL:Only those who have no class are concerned by it. Americans, for instance.

 

EC: Rumor has it you are attracted to two women on the ship, an old flame, Caroline, and someone you just met, Tess?

 

RL:A gentleman never tells.

 

EC: Do you see similarities or differences in these two women?

 

RL:Would you have me compare orchids and daisies? Each has its own charms.

 

EC: Someone told me one of the Schuyler women said this, “Mrs. Hochstetter is an orchid, elegant and rare, while Tess is a common daisy.” Do you agree or disagree?

 

RL:I try not to listen to the Schulyer women.  One usually exits discreetly when they enter a room.

 

EC: Do you think all these worlds collided on the ship?

 

RL:  Ships are like Continental hotels; one can never tell whom one might meet.  The difference is the only means of egress would leave one quite damp.

 

EC: If you had a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years?

 

RL:  Does any man know what the future holds?  My family only looks at the past, not the future.

 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

 

RL:  To get off this blasted boat.  Oh, bother. The Schulyer women approach.  Is that whiskey in that decanter?

 

EC: Anything else you would like to say that has not been asked?

 

RL:  Rule Britannia.  God save the King.  And put on that bloody life vest.

 

Thanks again for doing this.  It is much appreciated. Please stay safe!

3 WsBeatriz Williams: A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. 

 
LAUREN WILLIG:  is the author of several New York Times bestselling works of historical fiction,  She is a RITA Award-winner for Best Regency Historical for The Mischief of the Mistletoe. A graduate of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
 
Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty previous books, including The Night the Lights Went Out, Flight Patterns, The Sound of Glass, A Long Time Gone, and The Time Between

Interview with Eleanor Moskowitz From Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis

 

NotOurKind hc c LRThank you for doing this.  It looks like you are trying to find your place in this post World War II world where anti-Semitism still looms large.  Yet, being a Jew collided with the WASP world of the Bellamy family after Patricia hired you to tutor her daughter Margaux.  Unfortunately, the father and husband Wynn sexually harassed you and you fell in love with Patricia’s brother Tom.  Both these caused conflicts within the New York societal norms; yet, there was a bond formed between you and the Bellamy women.

 

Elise Cooper: Now, a few years after the Holocaust, do you think American society in general still has covert anti-Semitism and attitudes?

Eleanor Moskowitz:No, I think that anti-Semitism in America is out front and on full display.  Apartment buildings, neighborhoods and even whole towns were proud to call themselves restricted.  Jews were not welcome in many places, and urged, as I was, to change their names.  There is nothing covert about any of that.

EC: Are you the type of person that wants to fight the restrictions against the Jews or will go along to get ahead?

EM:Sometimes I feel the need to fight; other times, to keep my head down and avoid attracting any attention. I think both strategies have their merits, depending on the situation.

EC: You were overheard saying that a Jew in a Gentile world remains on the margins in a deferential role-do you still feel this way?

EM:Yes, I do.  And that’s why I’m hesitant to marry Tom. He may feel there are no differences, no barriers. But other people won’t feel the same way and he’s naive if thinks they will.

EC : You were hired to tutor Margaux, did you enjoy it?

EM:I loved tutoring her more than any other student I’d ever encountered.  In part, it was because I had to win her over.  But I also loved her pride, her anger, and sense of herself as an exile—I realized these qualities reminded me of myself.

EC: Do you think you broke down the barriers inch by inch with Margaux?

EM:Yes, at least at the beginning.  But once I won her over, the floodgates opened and it became easy between us.  Her vulnerability was very touching.

EC: How did seeing someone with polio affect you and do you think that is why you bonded with Margaux?

EM:I came to see her disease as a badge of honor; it made her proud, it made her truthful.  And it set her apart from most of her peers and in that way, I felt she was a kindred spirit.

EC: Do you think teachers are the most important people in a childs life?

EM:Maybe not the most important, but certainly very important. Teachers represent a bridge between the world of home and family and the larger world that awaits just beyond.  A good teacher is a guide into that wider world and as such, is very precious.

EC: How would you describe your relationship with Patricia, Margaux’s mom?

EM:Our connection is deep and real but also complicated.  She had no idea of who I was when she invited me into her home and into her life; I think I upended all her ideas about what Jews were like.  She was conflicted about having me in her world, but her love for Margaux was stronger than her prejudices—which were passive rather than active—and so she accepted and even valued me.  It was when I stepped outside the role she had cast me in—a servant of sorts, beloved perhaps but still the hired help—that the trouble began. A romance with her brother and the possibility that I might become her sister-in-law?  A friendship with her daughter that transcended our teacher-student relationship?  These things were threatening to her, and she resented me for forcing her to confront them.

EC: Do you think when you were hired two worlds collided?

EM:Yes, but that was not immediately apparent to me. I didn’t realize the extent of my involvement with any of the Bellamys when I first went to work for them.  I couldn’t have imagined my growing attachment to Margaux, or that Mr. Bellamy would attack me.  And I couldn’t imagine Tom, and the effect he would have on me.

EC:It is disheartening what Mr. Bellamy did. Do you think he looked upon you as property?

EM:Perhaps not property.  But not a woman, or a person, who was his equal. I was to him a stereotype—a Jewess—and that allowed him to behave to me as if I were inferior.

EC: Do you get solace from your religion, like when you went to the Mikvah, a bath used for ritual immersion, after the encounter with Mr. Bellamy?

EM:I was not raised in an observant home, and in fact, those kind of rituals, were sometimes the source of conflict between my parents—my father tended to be nostalgic for the “old country” and the traditions that were part of that life.  My mother wanted no part of any of it and she couldn’t understand my father’s attachment to those old ways.  I was surprised that I derived as much comfort as I did from my visit to the Mikvah. But I was desperate, and willing to try almost anything.

EC: Do you consider yourself a religious person as far as your dress, eating habits, living quarters…?

EM:Not at all.  And yet I consider myself a Jewish woman. I couldn’t be anything else; being Jewish is an indelible part of me.

EC: So do you think this effects your relationship with Tom?

EM:Tom is smart, funny and above all charming.  I love him for his many virtues, and in spite of his many faults.  I want to be with him, but I’m not blind to the difficulties that a life with him would mean, and not entirely sure I would be able, in the long term, to tolerate them.

EC:Do you see a big difference between how the Bellamys led their lives with all their riches and how you led your life?

EM:Well, they had a kind of ease in the world that had been denied to me, as well as the insulation that having money provides. And they had not been forced to question the status quo in the way I had—it had served them well after all.  At times I admired them, at times I envied them, at times I disdained them.

EC: If you had a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years?

EM:I see a future that includes work I love—maybe in publishing, maybe a return to teaching—and a place of my own.  A husband and children are there too, but they are a little hazier, and harder to see.

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

EM:To find my place in the world and to be happy in it.

EC: What do you do for fun or to relax?

EM:I love to read, to dance, to go to the movies.

EC: Anything else you would like to say that has not been asked?

EM:No, I think you’ve been very thorough and far-ranging in your questions.

EC: Thanks again for doing this. 

Kitty Zeldis is the pseudonym for a novelist and non-fiction writer of books for adults and children. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY. Kitty Zeldis hat photo LR (002)

Meet Carrie Strahorn from Jane Kirkpatrick’s Everything She Didn’t Say

Everything She Didn't Say-Book CoverName:  Carrie Adell Green Strahorn

Parents: Dr. John W and Louisa Babcock Green

Siblings:  Mary Green Waters (older); Hattie Green

Places lived: Too many to mention!  Born in Marengo, IL.  We did have permanent homes for only short times in Omaha, NE; Caldwell, ID and Spokane, WA. But we lived in Denver, Bellingham, San Francisco, Butte, Cheyenne, etc.

Jobs: companion of railroad promoting husband traveling the west to identify locations for the Union Pacific Railroad to bring their tracks to. I wrote articles/letters for newspapers back east and had a pen name of A.Stray.  That’s a story in itself, don’t you think? I also helped start a Presbyterian church which was the work of my life.

Friends: My husband Robert and my sisters are my closest friends. It’s very hard to have long-term friendships when one travels all over the west by stage and train. Friendships take time and commitment. I am committed to helping my husband in his efforts.

Enemies: I don’t have any unless you identify some of the town fathers who disliked my husband because the railroad didn’t come to their town. I’m also my own worst enemy – my self-doubt desire not to disappoint Robert. I always go along with what he wants and that isn’t always wise.

Dating, marriage: Graduate of University of Michigan in the 1870s; I didn’t date much being busy with my singing. I traveled to Europe on tour. I met Robert as he was the fiancé of my college roommate who shared my name. When she died before their marriage, Robert and I found each other ut he called me Dell after that, perhaps not wanting to use the first Carrie’s name. We were married September 19, 1877.

Children: none though in later life I claimed the sons of our chauffer as my own on the census. Actually, the census recorder got it wrong but I let it stand. I adored them. And I almost adopted a set of twins Kate and Kambree — but Robert didn’t want that to happen, said it would be too difficult with our traveling life.

What person do you most admire? I admire Pace Caldwell. She’s the wife of former senator Caldwell who was removed from the senate because he bribed a competitor not to run so he could win. He lived in Kansas. Pace held herhead up high, continued to love and support her husband. She kept her dignity. That was admirable and I called upon that when Robert had his own financial fall. Pace kept getting up and starting again despite disappointments and betrayals.

Overall outlook on life: I live in a “happy lane” and see the adventure of  life as unique and full of grace. I want to celebrate it, downplay any personal disappointments. Presbyterians have a phrase about “seeing a way clear” that means we believe God has shown us a way forward, that we can “see our way clear.” I look for that.

Do you like yourself? Most of the time. I’m a bit overweight but it’s those rich dinners when we’re having to dine the bankers and politicians that Robert must engage with in his railroad promotion. I’d like myself better as a mother so I did find some ways in later life to be a surrogate mother to some college girls. And I adore my nieces. I like myself best when I’m with my sisters and my family.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? Oh, I wish I’d insisted about the twins we could have adopted. We could have adjusted our traveling; in later life I stayed at home more anyway. So yes, I would have become a mother.

How are you viewed by others? They admire me, I know. Especially after the book came out, my memoir called Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage in two volumes covering 1877-1880 and 1880-1898. Some people said I was a better writer than Robert. I think I was more conversational. He had to write reports on soil conditions, landscapes, rail line routes, stuffier things. I wrote about people and I never complained. I never named someone in a story who had a negative role to play. I hosted wonderful parties and made people feel welcome and when I set my heart on something – like getting a Presbyterian church for Caldwell – I persevered. People admired my persistence and some said my grace in times of trial.

Physical appearance: I’m 5’5”, a tad overweight. Curvy, I’d call it.

Eyes: blue

Hair: frizzy chestnut color

Voice: melodious. I’m a singer

Right- or left-handed? right

How would you describe yourself? I’m a Victorian lady who wears my long skirts, corset, bustle, and a hat, usually straw with feathers and dried fruit as decorations when I’m out in public. But I’ll ride astride a horse (with a discreet skirt to put on over the split one as soon as I step off the horse). I have a pleasant voice, wear round glasses that are often dirty as I’m so busy engaging in life I doesn’t notice. I adore my husband, have a wry sense of humor, long for the roots of home and children and am grateful for the adventurous life God’s given me.

Characteristics: Strong-willed, people pleaser, passionate, will try anything once. Loving of family and my close friends.

Strongest/weakest character traits: Never quite once I’m committed; try to please people at my own expense.

How much self-control do you have? Lots.

Fears: Not being useful, not finding my life’s purpose

Collections, talents: I can sing and do in choirs of the west when we stay in a town for a few months. I collect treasures from some of our adventures like being the first woman to go into a gold mine. I saved a piece of ore.

What people like best about you: I’m game for anything. Once.

Interests and favorites: I love to read, that’s my greatest pastime when I’m not off on some adventure like riding on the cow chaser of a railroad engine over the Dale Creek Canyon. I’m also drawn to landscapes – the oceans, mountains, rivers and lakes of the West.

Food, drink: I don’t imbibe though have twice tasted champagne . Once when my memoir was published and another sip when we took our 6 month tour of Europe.

Books: Emily Dickinson’s poetry

Best way to spend a weekend: With Robert riding horseback in the mountains

What would a  great gift for you be? Diamonds. I do like diamonds.

When are you happy? When my sisters and parents come west to visit and I can show them the landscapes that I love.

What makes you angry? Seeing children suffering. And when Robert misled our friends in an investment. I was very angry about that.

What makes you sad? Not having a grandchild.

What makes you laugh? My dogs! Bulldogs are so funny!

Hopes and dreams: To be remembered as a generous, loving person.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? Getting my husband on that cow chaser. He didn’t enjoy it one bit!

Greatest success: Convincing a pastor we’d called Caldwell to stay when he at first said he didn’t think he was up to the task. He was and he did.

Biggest trauma: Dealing with closed in spaces.

What do you care about most in the world? That children be treated with dignity and respect and loved by their parents.

Do you have a secret? I don’t always tell my husband what I’m thinking.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? They’re kind and generous people

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? That I don’t get to see them more often.

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be: I did it already. I wrote a memoir celebrating the west.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: Humiliating thing? Having to escape at night across Puget Sound in a borrowed wooden boat because my husband had misled investors. We had to borrow money for the stage. Worst. Night. Ever.

Thank you, Carrie, for visiting with us here on PASTimes. We’ve learned a lot about you!

Jane Kirkpatrickis the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of more than thirty books, including All She Left Behind,A Light in the Wilderness,The Memory Weaver,This Road We Traveled,and A Sweetness to the Soul,which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, USABestBooks, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Award. Jane lives in Central Oregonwith her husband, Jerry. Learn more at www.jkbooks.com.

Kirkpatrick_Jane

An Interview with Claire Clairmont from Claire’s Last Secret By Marty Ambrose

Claire Last Secret CoverWe are going to speak today with Claire Clairmont at the Palazzo Cruciato in Florence, Italy.  She is a nineteenth-century woman of “a certain age” and, most interestingly, the last living survivor of the Byron/Shelley “Haunted Summer” of 1816!  Welcome, Claire!

Q:  First of all, I want to ask about your connection to Mary Shelley.  Wasn’t she your stepsister?

Claire:  Yes, her father, William Godwin, married my mother when I was a young girl.  We grew up together, along with my brother, Charles, and her stepsister, Fanny.  It was an unusual “blended” family for the time, but we loved each other.  I miss them all very much.

Q:  Do you mind telling us about your relationship with Mary?

Claire:  It was . . . complicated.  We had so much in common, especially our love of books; and, when she fell in love with Shelley, I accompanied them on their elopement to Europe.  Mary and I were both barely seventeen when we traveled together with him through France, Switzerland, and Italy—rarely spending any time apart, sharing the good times and the bad.  But, later, I think Mary grew tired of always having me around; she wanted Shelley to herself.  I suppose that I cannot blame her.  Eventually, we grew quite distant—especially after Shelley drowned near Le Spezia. She returned to England with her sole surviving son and achieved fame with her novel, Frankenstein, while I stayed in Europe.  But we were always sisters in our hearts.

Q:  Speaking of hearts, you were involved with a famous poet yourself:  Lord Byron.  Do you want to tell us about him?

Claire:  It was such a long time ago . . . but he is not the type of man you could ever forget. Handsome, magnetic, brilliant—he was all of those things, but he could also be cruel.  What can I say, except that I loved him, body and soul?  We first met in London and, then, connected in Switzerland when he, Mary, Shelley and I spent the summer of 1816 on the shores of Lake Geneva.  It was truly a magical time.  Because of the violent thunderstorms, we were driven indoors to Byron’s Villa Diodati and would tell ghost stories at night.  One evening, Byron even proposed we all write a tale to frighten each other—and that’s how Mary came to write Frankenstein. When not trying to scare each other, we sailed the lake and read poetry together.  Unfortunately, our idyll did not last beyond the summer—and there were consequences: Byron and I had a daughter, Allegra. She was the greatest joy of my life.

Q: I know this part is a little difficult, but what happened to your daughter?

Claire:  Well . . . Byron and I could never marry since his wife would not grant him a divorce, so I sent Allegra to live with him in Ravenna, Italy.  It was a dark time politically, and Byron became involved with the Carbonari—Italian revolutionaries who fought to free their country from the Austrians.  Byron thought it was unsafe for Allegra to be there, so he sent her to a convent school at Bagnacavallo.  I wanted her to live with me, but he stubbornly refused my request.  After less than two years at the convent, Allegra caught typhus, and supposedly died in 1822.  It was the greatest tragedy in my life . . .

Q: Supposedly?  So, there’s a mystery surrounding her fate?

Claire:  Oh, yes . . . which I learned only recently!

Q: I am intrigued, especially since you spent many years believing she had not survived.  It must have taken a lot of fortitude to go on.  What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Claire:  My strongest trait is my ability to survive.  I had to live by my own wits for most of my life, yet I always tried to rebound quickly from even the most difficult of circumstances.  I had a child on my own, traveled the world, and always believed that a woman could have the same freedom as a man.  I embraced life wholeheartedly, even when my choices didn’t always produce the effects for which I hoped.   I lived life on my own terms.

Q:  Worst trait?

Claire:  Impulsiveness—but this quality has been tempered over the years.  I risked everything when I was young and I do not regret it, but now that I am the sole support my dear niece and her daughter, I find that their welfare must be considered first.  But I would not mind one more big adventure . . .

Q:  Really? At your age?

Claire:  Please.

Q:  All right. I hope you find the answers about your daughter, Allegra.

Claire:  Thank you . . . sometimes life takes one in a most unexpected direction; to know about Allegra’s fate has been one of my most cherished dreams. I know I will find the truth.

Marty Ambrose has been a writer most of her life, consumed with the world of literature whether teaching English at Florida Southwestern State College or creating her own fiction.  Her writing career has spanned almost fifteen years, with eight published novels for Avalon Books, Kensington Books, Thomas & Mercer—and, now, Severn House.

Two years ago, Marty had the opportunity to apply for a grant that took her to Geneva and Florence to research a new creative direction that builds on her interest in the Romantic poets:  historical fiction.  Her new book, Claire’s Last Secret, combines memoir and mystery in a genre-bending narrative of the Byron/Shelley “haunted summer,” with Claire Clairmont, as the protagonist/sleuth—the “almost famous” member of the group.  The novel spans two eras played out against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Italy and is the first of a trilogy.

Marty lives on an island in Southwest Florida with her husband, former news-anchor, Jim McLaughlin.  They are planning a three-week trip to Italy this fall to attend a book festival and research the second book, A Shadowed Fate

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Review: Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

978-1-4964-1732-9In most dual-time period novels I prefer the historical line more than the contemporary one. In Melanie Dobson’s new novel, Hidden Among the Stars, I was deeply immersed in both. In the contemporary line we meet Callie, a bookstore owner who reads stories to children and is comfortable living in the secluded nest of Mount Vernon, Ohio. This appealed to me because I live nearby. The author has definitely been here as everything she described was completely accurate from the hiking trail to the Ohio State campus. That was a bonus, however, because the world of children’s stories and the compelling backstory of Callie and her sister and their mysterious but loving mentor Charlotte kept me turning pages.

Likewise the stories of Annika and the boy she admires Max and the girl he longs to marry Luzia set in Austria at the onset of WWII was so vividly drawn and compelling that I could not say which storyline I preferred.

The stories are tied together at the beginning. We know what the mystery is about: A bookstore owner discovers a cryptic list in an old book and finds herself linked to the story of a mysterious Austrian castle, where priceless treasures were hidden in the early days of WWII. We, along with Callie, suspect that Charlotte, who spent time in an orphanage in France during the war, has some connection to this old book that no one yet understands, not even Charlotte. All the characters, even Josh the man that Callie finds herself drawn to, have pasts that make it hard for them to trust and love again, and that makes a reader root for them all.

The faith element is clear in this novel and the characters cling to the hope that Jesus brings into their lives. If I have any complaint, it’s very slight. I thought the first time Josh tells Callie about his faith it seemed more like a sermon than a conversation. However, when it comes up later it flows naturally within the story. And when you are dealing with personal loss (contemporary) and persecution of the Jews (historical) clinging to one’s faith is expected. The novel did not come off preachy in my opinion.

In the Author’s Note, Melanie explains that she indeed has been to the places she writes about. From a bookstore in a small Ohio town to a castle beside a lake in Austria, these places spoke to her and they certainly spoke to me as I read the story, not just as interesting locations, but as places where common people lived, loved, and did the best they could to overcome obstacles and evil. I loved this book. I think you will too!

pic_FULL_Dobson_MelanieMelanie Dobson is the award-winning author of more than fifteen historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels, including Catching the Wind and Chateau of Secrets. Three of her novels have won Carol Awards, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. Melanie loves to explore old cemeteries and ghost towns, hike in the mountains, and play board games with her family. She lives near Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Jon, and two daughters.

An advance copy of Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of review without any requirements. I have given my honest opinion.

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Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, third in the Daughters of Ireland series based on ancient legends. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also written articles for Internet Genealogyand Your Genealogy Today magazines, and children’s short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. She has also co-authored a baseball biography. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families, and can be found online at www.cindyswriting.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/cindyswritingand on Twitter: @cindyswriting.

 

 

An Interview with the main character from Annie’s Stories by Cindy Thomson

 

coverOptions_AnnieStories_110113.pdfAnnie’s Stories tells the story of Annie Gallagher, an immigrant from Ireland. We first met Annie in Grace’s Pictures, the first book in the Ellis Island Series. Annie is the housekeeper at Hawkins House, a boarding house for new immigrants run by Mrs. Agnes Hawkins.

Annie, can you tell us how you came to work at Hawkins House?

Oh, now, that’s a question that requires a whole novel to explain. But I’ll give you just a bit of it. I had the unfortunate experience of being put in a place called a Magdalene Laundry back in Ireland, and against my will too! I’ll not tell you how I got out, but I was sent to Hawkins House in Manhattan where a woman named Mrs. Hawkins (better known to some of us as the Hawk) set me up as her housekeeper. I was happy to be there, but I wanted more for my new life in America. The stories my father wrote for me turn out to have a part in helping me achieve my goal, and then some!

On the cover you’re holding a copy of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Can you tell us why? I mean, it is a children’s book.

Then perhaps you’ve not read it? The book is a wonder for several reasons. I was drawn to the story because Dorothy Gale feels neglected by her aunt and uncle, and everything in Kansas is so gray and unwelcoming. She wants excitement. And she certainly gets that in Oz. I know what it’s like to feel that way. And besides all that, the book is printed in such wonderful colors. I had never seen anything else like it. And as for it being for children, ’tis a well-known fact that Mr. Baum has stated the book will appeal to adults as well as children. I would not be surprised if someone made a stage production out of this story. I’ve read it more than once.

Tell us something about the other characters who appear in Annie’s Stories.

Well, there is Mrs. Hawkins, of course. She’s a kindly soul, but rather mysterious. Readers will learn a lot more about her than they did in Grace’s Pictures. Grace and Owen from the first book in the series are in Annie’s Stories as well. Readers of Grace’s Pictures will remember Reverend Clarke and Mr. Parker. There is a terrible Pinkerton man, although if you want my opinion he should not be around at all. And then my troublesome cousin Aileen comes through Ellis Island from Ireland, like I did except not from the laundry. She really should have been the one sent to the laundry, although I would not have wished that on her or anyone. But I’ll let you read about that. We have a new boarder at Hawkins House named Kirsten. She and her perplexing brother Jonas keep us busy. And then there is Stephen Adams the postman. I won’t tell you much about him except that he’s handsome. There are a few other important folks, but you can meet in them in the pages.

I hear that you like to read. Why are books and stories so important to you?

I was raised on stories. My father, God rest his soul, was a seanchai back in Ireland. That’s the word for storyteller. It was his occupation. Stories and the telling of them is my precious link to his memory, and without that I would feel lost. Stephen loves books as well, and he even lives over top of the offices of a publisher. Books feed our souls in a way that no other entertainment can. Wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Annie. We look forward to your story.

Thank you for inviting me. I hope we meet again in the pages of Annie’s Stories.

About the book:

The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.

Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, third in the Daughters of Ireland series based on ancient legends. Annie’s Stories is book two in the Ellis Island Series, published by Tyndale House Publishers. Each book can be read stand alone. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also written articles for Internet Genealogyand Your Genealogy Todaymagazines, and children’s short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. She has also co-authored a baseball biography. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families, and can be found online at www.cindyswriting.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/cindyswritingand on Twitter: @cindyswriting.

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