Monday, April 30, 2012

Patient Number 7 by Kurt Palka

Inspired by a true story and based on a wealth of family documents, this elegant and compelling novel chronicles the lives of two families from the 1930s through the coming of the Nazis and World War II, and the long, difficult post-War period to the present. A must-read for fans of Irene Nemirovsky, Hans Fallada, and Bernhard Schlink's The Reader.
 

This vividly realized, masterfully executed novel is a window into a little-explored corner of history. Patient Number 7 is a story of love between an aristocratic young woman and the cavalry officer -- later Panzer officer in the German army -- she marries; between friends who help each other through the Nazi takeover of Austria, the war, and what was sometimes worse, the "liberation"; between a mother and her two very different daughters. But it is also the story of a nation's darkest days, and its slow recovery during one of the most convulsive, violent periods of human history. Beautifully written, haunting, and ultimately redemptive, it is a work of great skill and great compassion.

Patient Number 7 gives reader a unique glimpse into how World War II impacted Austria. Based on family documents, author Kurt Palka has drilled down into everyday life to demonstrate how all lives were affected by the Nazi Third Reich.

The main character is Clara Herzog, a young woman from a well-to-do family who attends university in Austria. As a philosophy student, she is the student of Sigmund Freud and other notable famous mentors. Against her family’s urgings, she falls in love and marries a cavalry officer who soon joins the Panzers in the German army. Left alone, she struggles to raise their two daughters while war rages around them. She faces numerous conflicts ranging from losing her position at the university to Third Reich party members to being raped by a Nazi officer.

Patient Number 7 is about one woman’s endurance and the choices she is forced to make for herself and her family. What I found most fascinating was how Nazis slowly infiltrated all businesses, all levels of government, and society in general creating a wave of fear and slowly taking over all aspects of Austrian life. This is a unique, compelling, multi-layered novel about an unforgettable woman!





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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Daughters of Gentlemen by Linda Stratmann


This novel is the second Victorian mystery by Linda Stratmann featuring Miss Frances Doughty, a nineteen-year-old gentlewoman with no pretensions of beauty,  of no family and limited means, who after the success of one murder mystery finds herself employed to investigate an incident of ‘malicious publication’ at an exclusive girls’ school in Bayswater.

Frances has to leave the pharmacy that was the scene of her first crime-solving exploit, and with her maid and friend Sarah, finds a lovely apartment for them in Westbourne Grove she falls in love with and then worries about how to pay the rent.

Sarah, who at her own instigation is elevated to companion and apprentice detective, and with a mixed bag of slightly dubious but kindly informants who prove colourful light relief to the plot, they set about discovering who and why someone would want to upset the status quo in the established middle class world. A disappointed bride? A strategy to instil scandal for a political appointee whose daughters attend the school? Or simply a malicious prank?

At first Frances’ inquiries into who placed disturbing pamphlets into the desks of twelve schoolgirls takes her nowhere- until someone who worked at the school is found dead in the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

The narrative is beautifully written, in a flowing, easy style with some pithy observations about the people Frances is sent to question. Frances herself is very aware that as a young, unmarried woman she will have to handle prejudice and bigotry, as well as employ considerable charm and persuasion to get people to reveal the more intimate and important facts she will need to solve discover the culprit.

The plot is very complicated, with many twists turns and a blind alley or two, but the writer's style is so eloquent and polished I was glued throughout. Frances Doughty reminds me of a Victorian, and much younger Miss Marple, with her exemplary people skills and refusal to accept insults from ‘males who think they know better’. I loved the way she handles those who consider themselves superior, with firmness and polite insistence to get them to answer her questions – so to refuse makes them seem churlish and impolite.

Frances' inquiries bring her into contact with the fledgling Women’s Suffragette Movement and she finds she has to walk a tightrope between their militant views, the revelation that they might well have something to offer her as an independent woman, and yet keeping on side with the rigid views of her clients who regard marriage as the ultimate, and only aim for any female.

Frances’ epiphany that she would like to vote and take responsibility for her own life signals a change in her attitude to herself and her abilities. Her character growth is wonderfully handled, beginning with initial doubts that she can support herself as a detective at all when her case appears stalls, to her growing self assurance when clients start to appear.


This story has given me an incentive to read the first book, ‘The Poisonous Seed’ as I can see further changes in Frances still to come, and I will eagerly await the next one.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall


Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property.

On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents--some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris.

The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded "water treatment." She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home? Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.

The premise of this novel is what attracted me to it. I thoroughly enjoy reading historical fiction with unique settings. Blue Asylum, however, has much more depth than a story set in a mental institution. Certainly, there are fascinating inmates – the woman who swallows small items, a cruel matron, a charming woman who imagines her husband is still alive and with her – but the story is much richer than that. Not only does it depict the powerlessness of women in that era, but it delves into themes of post traumatic stress syndrome, tragedy, hope, and resilience. More importantly, at the heart is an endearing love story.

This novel is believable and richly detailed with fascinating characters, plenty of heartbreak, and inspiration.


An Interview with Kathy Hepinstall


1.  Welcome, I'm so glad to have this opportunity to chat with you.  Can you share with my readers the essence of the story you've penned?  


Blue Asylum tells the tale of a plantation wife and a haunted soldier who fall in love in an insane asylum in 1864.  That's the basic tale, but within that story there are many themes: forgiveness, letting go of the one you love, breaking free of the past, and the right of every individual to have a voice.

2.  You've chosen a very interesting title.  What inspired the title?  What inspired the book?  

The psychiatrist, Dr. Cowell, paints the walls blue to calm the patients.  I'm very partial to the color blue. If it stopped existing tomorrow, I would be very sad, and no longer look at the sky. I'd been wanting to set a love story in an insane asylum, and the island of Sanibel inspired me as a setting. It's pristine, calm, and yet vaguely ominous. Still largely unsettled. 

3.  What makes this book special to you? 

 It's about people being misunderstood and remaining strong despite circumstances.  Also, some of the characters are my friends now. Others, not so much.

4.  What makes this a book that people MUST read and WHY? 

 I'm not sure people must read it but I do believe that lovers of historical fiction will get caught up in it.  I think it's an intriguing love story with a unique twist: a woman in a mental asylum loved by both a haunted Civil War soldier, and her own psychiatrist.

5.  What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?  

The creativity of others - great music, great writing - sparks my own. Also, I like being around playful and curious people. I'd say as advice to always be surprising - make it a habit in your everyday life.

6.  What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?  

Well, I would say be careful about your metaphors. For example, that word…Writer's B….  I won't use it because it designates something hard, permeable, something impossible to get through.  So I call it Writer's Cloud, or Writer's Air.  In this way, the brain receives the message: I can get through this easily.  Hope that makes sense.  

7.  Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote your book? 

I just took out a full page color ad to Oprah in her hometown paper, the Montecito Journal. The ad said I had buried a book for her, and provided a secret map. So far, no word. So, on to ad #2...

8.  Each author is different in the way they create a work of fiction. Please describe for us how you plan or plot a story.  

Some of them come from an old news story or something I witnessed.  Often they are informed by my own philosophies - for example, The House of Gentle Men was about redemption and the need for forgiveness. I plot the novel out very roughly, but I always write to an outline. Research is definitely a form of creative progress for me - plot points and convergences reveal themselves, as well as metaphors that later prove useful.  I I usually try to make things historically accurate unless the story demands a different turn.

9.  Authors are very unique in the way they write, the tools they use, when they write, etc. Please describe a typical writing day for you? How do you organize your day? 

 I do my best writing in the morning but sometimes write all day.   I write very fast over a short period of time.  Racing through, getting a rough draft done and then go to work on a better draft. 

10.  What is your current work in progress? 

About to start on a novel about two sisters who join Stonewall Jackson's army and fight as men during his eastern campaign.

11.  Can you tell us where to find more information about you and your books and how readers can reach you?  

www.kathyhepinstall.wordpress.com  Has a place there under Bio/Contact to write the author.

12.  What would you like our readers to know about you and your writing?  

Just how much I appreciate their support and hope they love the novel. And that they can always contact me through my blog with questions or comments.  Thanks so much.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interview with Lavender Ironside

Many thanks to Lavender Ironside, who agreed to answer my questions after reading The Sekhmet Bed.


Lavender, you have a foreword where you discuss the relationship between the real Ahmose and Mutnofret. Can you detail more what the historical facts are about these women and what their relationship might have been?

  1. There are actually very few definite historical facts regarding the women of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, the era during which The Sekhmet Bed is set. Even many facts about Hatshepsut’s reign are less clear than details of later eras in Egyptian history. But early in the 18th Dynasty certainty about anything is elusive.

What historians can say with certainty is that Ahmose was a blood relative of Amunhotep, the Pharaoh who preceded Thutmose I on the throne. In ancient Egypt the right to the throne passed through the females of the family, not the males; a man was not considered truly king until he married a woman of the Pharaoh’s blood. In this way, even commoners could be legitimate kings if they could only secure a marriage to a Pharaoh’s female relation, and this seems to be exactly what happened to Thutmose I. He was a highly regarded soldier who would later use his military prowess to expand Egypt’s borders to the north and south, until Egypt grew larger than it had ever been in all its previous history. (Later, his grandson Thutmose III would expand the borders still further, to Egypt’s greatest size in its entire history!) Thutmose I was the son of a woman who was not nobility – a commoner, we might way – and his father is unknown, but very possibly was also a commoner. Thutmose’s only access to the throne was via Ahmose.

So certainly Ahmose was directly related to Amunhotep, but whether she was a sister, a cousin, or a daughter is unknown.

Mutnofret’s ancestry is far less certain. There are, as yet, no historical records detailing when Thutmose married her. She may have been his wife before he took the throne, or she may have been a second wife he took after marrying Ahmose. Mutnofret is depicted in Egyptian art as a queen, not a concubine, so it is likely that she was a co-queen with Ahmose; and although I am not an Egyptologist, it seems implausible to me that an existing commoner wife would be allowed to ascend to the lofty heights of co-queen. Therefore, I think it’s likely that Mutnofret was also of royal blood, though I have no concrete proof. Mutnofret was definitely the mother of Thutmose II, and it seems very probable to me that she was also the mother of at least one of Thutmose’s other sons, Wadjmose. I believe this to be so because Mutnofret is depicted with Wadjmose on the walls of Thutmose’s mortuary temple, which seems to indicate (to me, at least) that she is his biological mother.

But were Ahmose and Mutnofret sisters? It’s extremely unlikely. I think cousins to be more likely, but a sister relationship between the two women added much more dramatic tension to my fiction!

  1. What gave you the idea to write this story, this era?

    I set out to write a novel about Hatshepsut, but the more I researched her, the more fascinated I became with a mural on her temple wall which seems to suggest (probably just for political reasons, not because anybody really believed it) that the god Amun took the form of Pharaoh Thutmose I and impregnated Queen Ahmose; thus, Hatshepsut was claiming literal descent from the gods. I thought there was an interesting story in that mural, so I began pursuing it and eventually came up with the overall plot for The Sekhmet Bed.

  2. Without giving spoilers, what was the most difficult part of writing this book? How long did it take you?

    I did about two years of research into the 18th Dynasty. Once I’d gathered enough information to write a plausible historical novel, I wrote the book very quickly – in three months, in fact, working every day after I came home from the zoo (I was working as a keeper at the time.) I spent about three more months revising and editing it.

The most difficult part was definitely the bit near the end, where the gods begin their punishment of the character that disobeys them. I have to admit that I often cried while writing those scenes!

  1. Are you launching directly into the sequel, and if so, will it focus on Ahmose again, or on one of the other characters? (I’m asking specifically because of the departure scene at the end of the book, but I’m trying really hard to be specific without giving spoilers. LOL)

    I just finished up another, unrelated novel I’ve spent the last two years working on. I’m so relieved to have it wrapped up. Now that it’s done, I can turn back to the sequel, which is written but needs serious revision. The second book focuses on the relationship Ahmose has with her daughter Hatshepsut, and as the novel progresses it becomes more about Hatshepsut and less about Ahmose.

There is a third book planned, too, which details the relationship between Hatshepsut and her own daughter, Neferura. I really plan to take some liberties with probable history in that one…may Amun spare me from the wrath of angry Egyptophiles!

  1. I know the novel is available in paperback via Createspace.com. Where else will readers find it?

    The paperback version is not quite ready for readers. I am still tweaking the cover, and it’s giving me fits. However, I think I may have it this time, and if my latest proof copy looks good I’ll finally give readers access to the paperback. I will know in a few days whether the paperback is ready – I hope to make it available by the end of May.

In the meantime, readers can buy the Kindle version for $5.99 on Amazon.com and all ebook formats, including Kindle, on Smashwords.com for $5.99. The trade paperback, when it’s ready, will be available on Createspace and on Amazon, and it will cost $15.00.

Readers who want the latest news regarding my books, including when the paperback will be officially released, should follow my blog (link below!)

Thanks for having me, Victoria!

Lavender Ironside is the author of The Sekhmet Bed and its upcoming sequels. Lavender can be reached at http://lavenderironside[dot]blogspot[dot]com or by email at lavironside[at]gmail[dot].com

The Sekhmet Bed by Lavender Ironside

Fifteen year-old Ahmose never wanted to be a queen. She was god-chosen (meaning she sees and hears the will of the gods) and groomed from childhood to be a priestess. But when her father, the pharaoh, dies without an heir, his best friend and most trusted general is named the heir and Ahmose, not her hot-headed elder sister Mutnofret, is proclaimed Queen of all Egypt. This does not suit Mutnofret at all, who launches a defamation plan against her own sister, the young queen. Ahmose needs guidance to deal with Mutnofret, but doesn’t get it. 

Her grandmother, who holds the title “God's Wife of Amun” and holds complete, though unpracticed power, will not give Ahmose the title so Ahmose can contain Mutnofret’s jealousy and venom. So Ahmose steals her grandmother’s title and receives her grandmother’s curse for the theft. Ahmose’s friendship with her husband’s steward goes too far and she loses her only friend when she needs him most. Her actions return to haunt Ahmose until the gods in her dreams name her Queen of Sorrows. 

Once Ahmose reaches womanhood, she discovers her husband – her main source of strength - relying on her and her connection to the gods, which is all she’s ever wanted. He relies on her, but does not listen when she explains that the daughter she bore him has the spirit of a Pharaoh and must be named his heir. The gods punish those who disobey.

I have not, I hope, given away too much of the plot, but I will say Ahmose’s choices make her character an extraordinarily real teenager in a difficult situation. Much of the novel is the fight between the two sisters and it’s like watching the old Wild Kingdom t.v. show. One of the competitors will feed her family and one of them will be lucky to escape. The book is also like that show in that I had difficulty walking away. I refuse to give spoilers, so you’ll just have to read The Sekhmet Bed. It’s a great read and one you won’t soon forget. I look forward to reading what happens next to the Queen of Sorrows.

Please join me tomorrow for my interview with Lavender Ironside, the author of The Sekhmet Bed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Literally Dead by James Conroy


In the midst of the Great Depression, one man must do battle against corruption with nothing but his wits and a host of great literary figures...

Amos Jansen is merely a clerk. He is not a crime fighter, the next great writer, or a man of privilege. He is the humble employee of a Chicago literary society. That is, until he is arrested for murder. The scapegoat of a perfidious lieutenant, Jansen stands wrongly accused while his idols rally around him. Literary personalities the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Nelson Algren, and H. L. Mencken, as well as civil liberties warhorse Clarence Darrow, join Amos in his search for the real murderer of both the society's vice-chairman and his own father.

Will the pen prove mightier than the pistol? Will mercenary police, politicians and money-barons meet with justice? Or will Jansen fail to solve the mystery and wind up literally dead?

Literally Dead is an engrossing satirical murder mystery set in 1930’s Chicago during the Great Depression - those grand old days of gangsters, corrupt policing, and Prohibition.

At the heart of the story is a poor writer named Amos Jansen who gets wrongly arrested for a murder he doesn’t commit. Supporting him, eager to prove his innocence, are a bevy of real literary figures of the time, among them Ernest Hemingway, Clarence Darrow, and Edna St. Vincent Millay along with a few others. I loved the way the author made Ernest Hemingway come to life – crusty, wily, charismatic, and witty, I could not get enough! It made the story highly entertaining. Along with a fascinating mystery to unravel, there were pleasant laughs along the way.

Don't judge this book by its unappealing cover. I would never have picked it up off a book stand. But don't be fooled. This is a very good book. If you are looking for something different in historical fiction, this rich, enchanting story is sure to entertain you from start to finish. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Exceedingly charming!

The Kings' Mistresses by Elizabeth Goldsmith


The Mancini Sisters, Marie and Hortense, were born in Rome, brought to the court of Louis XIV of France, and strategically married off by their uncle, Cardinal Mazarin, to secure his political power base. Such was the life of many young women of the age: they had no independent status under the law and were entirely a part of their husband’s property once married.

Marie and Hortense, however, had other ambitions in mind altogether. Miserable in their marriages and determined to live independently, they abandoned their husbands in secret and began lives of extraordinary daring on the run and in the public eye. The beguiling sisters quickly won the affections of noblemen and kings alike. Their flight became popular fodder for salon conversation and tabloids, and was closely followed by seventeenth-century European society. The Countess of Grignan remarked that they were traveling “like two heroines out of a novel.” Others gossiped that they “were roaming the countryside in pursuit of wandering lovers.”

In the 17th-century, sisters Marie and Hortense Mancini married into wealth and nobility, but they soon discovered themselves desperately unhappy with their abusive husbands. Divorce at the time, was available, but extremely difficult, if not impossible, to acquire and fraught with scandal.  Left with little choice, the two women fled, at times in each other’s company, and other times alone. From Italy, France, and England, the women travelled and lived the high life, visiting and finding refuge in some of Europe’s most elite families. They found love in the arms of kings. They indulged themselves in love affairs, gambling, hunting, and art collecting, much to the gossiping delight of the world that could not help but be fascinating with the wild freedom of these two women.

But as they moved from home to home, or castle to castle, their husbands tracked them, thrusting impediments and threats in their path, forcing them into convents or withdrawing all money, or entering into negotiations to force them into submission. Somehow, they managed to dodge the courts and their husband’s attempts to squash their seized independence.

The author did an impeccable job of researching and tracking the travels of these two fascinating women. The book takes us on a journey with them from country to country, court to court, and home to home. However, it is quite academic in nature and brushes too briefly over their actual escapades. What I mean by that, is I got a wonderful picture of their actual travels, but very little about what truly made them notorious, where they flaunted societal standards, and why the world was so enchanted by their mischief. Nevertheless, this was a fabulous book that takes the reader into the courts of kings for a first hand glimpse of the world in 17th century Europe.  

Sisters of Fortune by Jehanne Wake

Summary

As gripping as the best historical novel -- an exuberant account of the American sisters who enthralled high society in the wake of Waterloo. The Caton sisters were Southern belles descended from the first settlers in Maryland, and were expected to 'marry a Plantation'. But they were independent, fascinated by politics, clever with money, romantic in mood. Arriving In London in 1816 the three sisters forged their own destinies in the face of intense prejudice, against both Americans and Catholics. 

The widowed Marianne shocked the world by marrying the Wellington's wayward elder brother, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and appearing as a 'Catholic Yankee' among the Protestant Anglo-Irish. Louisa eventually became Duchess of Leeds, and a friend of Queen Victoria, while the sphere in which Bess shone was the stockmarket, as queen of speculators. 

 Based on intimate unpublished letters, Sisters of Fortune is a brilliant portrait of love between sisters, a most unusual story of money and power and a fascinating glimpse of how these extraordinary women influenced the social and international relations of their time. 

Jehanne Wake's Sisters of Fortune is a biographical book about the lives of four sisters: Marianne, Bess, Louisa, and Emily Caton. Granddaughters of Charles Carroll of Carrollton who signed the Declaration of Independence and a Senator Maryland, they were born into a world of wealth and politics. Of the four sisters, Marianne was the most beautiful and is depicted foremost on the cover. Suffering with asthma, she travelled to the more humid climate of England for health reasons accompanied by her sisters Marianne, Bess, and Louisa. Their sister Emily remained behind. 

Needless to say, the sisters took English society by storm and they soon found love, married, while causing a few scandals along the way. Marianne, the great beauty of the trio, married the Marquess Richard Wellesly and became Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Adelaide. Louisa married twice. Her first husband was Colonel Felton Hervey whom she deeply loved. When he died, she married Lord Carmarthen, a future Duke of Leeds. And last, but not least, Bess also found herself married to nobility – George Jerningham, Baron of Costessey Hall. 

Beyond capturing the women’s lives, the book does not shy away from depicting anti-American sentiments by the British. When reading the book, it becomes readily apparent that author Jeanne Wake did an incredible amount of research, much of it based on actual letters written amongst Caton family members. It is an incredible story of three educated American women who were able to influence European politics and managed handled financial affairs – rare indeed during the early 18th century. A fascinating, detailed, memoir about three women who reigned victorious under difficult social and gender-based restrictions!

Interview with Lavender Ironside, author of The Sekhmet Bed

Many thanks to Lavender Ironside, who agreed to answer my questions after reading The Sekhmet Bed.


Lavender, you have a foreword where you discuss the relationship between the real Ahmose and Mutnofret. Can you detail more what the historical facts are about these women and what their relationship might have been?

  1. There are actually very few definite historical facts regarding the women of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, the era during which The Sekhmet Bed is set. Even many facts about Hatshepsut’s reign are less clear than details of later eras in Egyptian history. But early in the 18th Dynasty certainty about anything is elusive.

What historians can say with certainty is that Ahmose was a blood relative of Amunhotep, the Pharaoh who preceded Thutmose I on the throne. In ancient Egypt the right to the throne passed through the females of the family, not the males; a man was not considered truly king until he married a woman of the Pharaoh’s blood. In this way, even commoners could be legitimate kings if they could only secure a marriage to a Pharaoh’s female relation, and this seems to be exactly what happened to Thutmose I. He was a highly regarded soldier who would later use his military prowess to expand Egypt’s borders to the north and south, until Egypt grew larger than it had ever been in all its previous history. (Later, his grandson Thutmose III would expand the borders still further, to Egypt’s greatest size in its entire history!) Thutmose I was the son of a woman who was not nobility – a commoner, we might way – and his father is unknown, but very possibly was also a commoner. Thutmose’s only access to the throne was via Ahmose.

So certainly Ahmose was directly related to Amunhotep, but whether she was a sister, a cousin, or a daughter is unknown.

Mutnofret’s ancestry is far less certain. There are, as yet, no historical records detailing when Thutmose married her. She may have been his wife before he took the throne, or she may have been a second wife he took after marrying Ahmose. Mutnofret is depicted in Egyptian art as a queen, not a concubine, so it is likely that she was a co-queen with Ahmose; and although I am not an Egyptologist, it seems implausible to me that an existing commoner wife would be allowed to ascend to the lofty heights of co-queen. Therefore, I think it’s likely that Mutnofret was also of royal blood, though I have no concrete proof. Mutnofret was definitely the mother of Thutmose II, and it seems very probable to me that she was also the mother of at least one of Thutmose’s other sons, Wadjmose. I believe this to be so because Mutnofret is depicted with Wadjmose on the walls of Thutmose’s mortuary temple, which seems to indicate (to me, at least) that she is his biological mother.

But were Ahmose and Mutnofret sisters? It’s extremely unlikely. I think cousins to be more likely, but a sister relationship between the two women added much more dramatic tension to my fiction!

  1. What gave you the idea to write this story, this era?

    I set out to write a novel about Hatshepsut, but the more I researched her, the more fascinated I became with a mural on her temple wall which seems to suggest (probably just for political reasons, not because anybody really believed it) that the god Amun took the form of Pharaoh Thutmose I and impregnated Queen Ahmose; thus, Hatshepsut was claiming literal descent from the gods. I thought there was an interesting story in that mural, so I began pursuing it and eventually came up with the overall plot for The Sekhmet Bed.

  2. Without giving spoilers, what was the most difficult part of writing this book? How long did it take you?

    I did about two years of research into the 18th Dynasty. Once I’d gathered enough information to write a plausible historical novel, I wrote the book very quickly – in three months, in fact, working every day after I came home from the zoo (I was working as a keeper at the time.) I spent about three more months revising and editing it.

The most difficult part was definitely the bit near the end, where the gods begin their punishment of the character that disobeys them. I have to admit that I often cried while writing those scenes!

  1. Are you launching directly into the sequel, and if so, will it focus on Ahmose again, or on one of the other characters? (I’m asking specifically because of the departure scene at the end of the book, but I’m trying really hard to be specific without giving spoilers. LOL)

    I just finished up another, unrelated novel I’ve spent the last two years working on. I’m so relieved to have it wrapped up. Now that it’s done, I can turn back to the sequel, which is written but needs serious revision. The second book focuses on the relationship Ahmose has with her daughter Hatshepsut, and as the novel progresses it becomes more about Hatshepsut and less about Ahmose.

There is a third book planned, too, which details the relationship between Hatshepsut and her own daughter, Neferura. I really plan to take some liberties with probable history in that one…may Amun spare me from the wrath of angry Egyptophiles!

  1. I know the novel is available in paperback via Createspace.com. Where else will readers find it?

    The paperback version is not quite ready for readers. I am still tweaking the cover, and it’s giving me fits. However, I think I may have it this time, and if my latest proof copy looks good I’ll finally give readers access to the paperback. I will know in a few days whether the paperback is ready – I hope to make it available by the end of May.

In the meantime, readers can buy the Kindle version for $5.99 on Amazon.com and all ebook formats, including Kindle, on Smashwords.com for $5.99. The trade paperback, when it’s ready, will be available on Createspace and on Amazon, and it will cost $15.00.

Readers who want the latest news regarding my books, including when the paperback will be officially released, should follow my blog (link below!)

Thanks for having me, Victoria!

Lavender Ironside is the author of The Sekhmet Bed and its upcoming sequels. Lavender can be reached at http://lavenderironside[dot]blogspot[dot]com or by email at lavironside[at]gmail[dot].com

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hawkwood by James McGee


Hawkwood is the name of James McGee’s regency hero, a Bow Street Runner with a chequered history in an era when Britain is at war with Napoleon. A serving officer in the 95th Rifles, he was cashiered after he killed a fellow officer in a duel. With Wellington's intervention he was spared a court-martial, and instead joined the Spanish Guerrilleros, liaising with the British intelligence officer Colquhoun Grant. It is Grant's influence that enables Hawkwood to get a job at Bow Street on his return to England.

The story opens with the highway robbery of a coach, where a Navy Lieutenant is killed and the diplomatic pouch he is carrying stolen. However this is not a random robbery and the papers in the pouch appear to be what the highwaymen were after.

Magistrate James Read sends for Hawkood, who is to attend a party at the home of Lord Mandrake on a security assignment. During the evening, he comes to the rescue of a lady who is being harassed by three drunken young men. One of the men challenges Hawkwood to a duel, which Matthew is unable to walk away from and he injures the young nobleman.

The lady, Catherine de Varesne, is very grateful for his help and the two embark on a brief affair during which she tells him her family were executed in ‘The Terror’ and she keeps her father’s stiletto beneath her pillow as protection against Napoleon’s spies.

It isn’t until Hawkwood is ordered to investigate the disappearance of a fellow Runner, that pieces of a puzzle begin falling into place. The runner is found dead whilst on the trail of a disappeared clockmaker, and the papers found on the body are those stolen from the Navy Lieutenant. These papers are plans for a submersible boat, which the navy are eager to find as they believe it is being used in an attack on a new warship which is going to be visited by the Prince of Wales.

Hawkwood is a great hero, honourable, wrongly accused and unable to resist a fight, but he’s also enigmatic and not averse to the charms of a dubious woman. I liked him. This story is a man’s book, I felt, as it gets very involved with the technicalities of building a submersible, but the style is engaging and the author gives us an excellent flavour of 18th century London dockyards in all its tacky, disgusting glory. His characters are well drawn and this story definitely makes me want to read Mr McGee’s other Hawkwood novels.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To Take Her Pride by Anne Brear


Beautiful prose and an exquisite read! 

In 1898 Yorkshire, Aurora Pettigrew has it all, a loving family, a nice home, a comfortable life. She’s waiting for the right man to offer her marriage, and the man for her is Reid Sinclair, heir to the Sinclair fortune and the love of her life. But, Reid’s mother, Julia, is against the match and her ruthlessness unearths a family secret that will tear Aurora’s world apart. Unwilling to bring shame on her family and needing answers to the allegations brought to light by Reid’s mother, Aurora begins a long journey away from home. She leaves behind all that is familiar and safe to enter a world of mean streets and poor working class. Living in the tenements of York, surrounded by people of a class she’d never mixed with before, Aurora struggles to come to terms with the way her life has changed. By chance, she reconnects with a man from her past and before he leaves with the army to war in South Africa, he offers her security through marriage. Aurora knows she should be happy, but the memory of her love for Reid threatens her future. When tragedy strikes, can Aurora find the strength to accept her life and forget the past?


My review

I have been an avid follower of Anne Brear for many years and have had the pleasure of reading almost all of her novels. I was eager to read this one, confident that it would be as impressive as the others. This book exceeded my expectations and is one of favourites.  

The story takes place in Yorkshire England during the late 19th century. At the heart of this tale is a young woman named Aurora, a young woman of comfortable means who is in love with Reid, a young man of privilege, who lives next door. Conflict arises when Reid’s mother, Julia, who believes Aurora is unsuitable for her son because her family is newly wealthy, sets out to research the family’s past secrets. She manages to discover a secret that devastates Aurora’s life and forces her to live in poverty.

As expected, To Take Her Pride is the kind of story that moves the reader through a realm of emotions. Complex, realistic characters, a rags-to-riches theme, and a forbidden love element, kept the plot moving at a good clip with unexpected twists along the way. The reader is taken on an emotional journey through historical York where the author’s attention to detail and historical accuracy truly makes the story and characters feel authentic.

This novel is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. It depicts England’s class system in an unbiased, true manner. The author plumbs the depths of her characters, making them multi-dimensional, imperfect, and fascinating. I could not put this book down and it kept me reading long into the night. If this is the first book by Anne Brear (formerly Anne Whitfield) that you’ve read, rest assured that it will not be the last. You’ll become a collector like me! Get this book, sit back, and enjoy beautiful prose and an exquisite read.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pigsong - A short story by Frank Delaney

"Once upon a time and long ago, when snow tasted like cream, and timber tasted like sweet cake, and every tenth egg laid by a duck had a diamond in it, there lived up in the North of Ireland a very bad man." 

The third short story in Frank Delaney's series, "Storytellers," is far more than charming as he instructs, seduces, entertains and allows us to see how an oppressed culture might have learned the concept of justice through imagination.

Pigsong is one of twelve short stories that will be released monthly throughout 2012. In the introduction, author Frank Delaney describes how these stories are meant to recreate the art of storytellers who long ago travelled about, and when stopping for the night, villagers and neighbours gathered to hear his story. The story reads like a beautiful fairytale, but one meant for adults with powerful messages disguised between the brilliant prose. This short story focuses on the cruelties of slavery, the need for freedom, and treating each other with respect and kindness. And the main characters are pigs! Great fun by a masterful and eloquent storyteller.

Willow Vale by Alethea Williams

This novella is a true account of Ms Williams ancestors who founded the Willow Vale Ranch in Wyoming.

Francesca Sittoni  has not had much of a life so far, being born an Austrian, after WWI her nationality changes to Italian, but also results in the death of her husband, leaving her with a small daughter, Elena. Even as a widow, Francesca is not in charge of her own life and when her father, a man bereft of compassion due to the blows life and war have dealt him, marries her off to Cesare, who has plans to emigrate to America, she has no choice but to obey and leave Val di Non, her childhood home she loves, but in which she cannot survive.

Cesare takes work as a miner, and Francesca’s life is little better than that of a servant, keeping her surly husband content by avoiding confrontation, and making sure Elena doesn’t annoy him.  When Cesare is killed in a fall in at the mine, Francesca has no inclination to mourn him, and who can blame her, for her struggle now is for survival.

Francesca has to leave the company accommodation, has no money and no skills to speak of, and worse still she is pregnant with her dead husband’s child.

Francesca answers and advertisement in the newspaper by a Wyoming farmer who is in search of a woman to keep house for him. She sets off across the country and is met my Mr Kent, a divorcee with health problems who has his own demons to fight from the war.

Mr Kent is not quite what Francesca was expecting, and it’s obvious from their first sight of each other that she is also a surprise, as is her burgeoning pregnancy and the appearance of little Elena.  However Mr Kent welcomes them both and the two consider what happens next.

It is at this point I become confused with Francesca’s behaviour. From a meek, subservient woman, she turns on this gentle man who has done nothing but be kind to her and is surly, uncommunicative and rude. She has nowhere else to go, is pregnant and with a small child and yet she issues threats to the bewildered Mr Kent, saying she won’t work for him and will leave right that moment, when all he has done is suggest he buys her lunch. Mr Kent has to cajole her into not making any hasty decisions.

Francesca stays and starts work as his housekeeper, but her attitude remains reluctant, and before long begins to settle – but again she isn’t satisfied with the arrangement. She doesn’t like Mr Kent’s diet of predominantly beef and demands milk and eggs. Does Mr Kent throw her out on her sorry ass? No, the poor put-upon man does not, but does his best to comply and asks a neighbour for a cow and some chickens.

Francesca calms down, slowly, and as her pregnancy progresses she develops a thoughtful side and begins to understand Mr Kent, especially after a meeting with an elderly neighbour, Agnes Broadbent.  From Agnes she learns that the town assumes Mr Kent will marry Francesca and assumed his advertisement was a ‘Wife wanted’ one.  At this point she resolves not to comply with Mr Kent’s expectations – even though the poor man hasn’t even asked her!

Despite everything, Mr Kent finds himself warming toward Francesca, and when a cattle drive looms, he is reluctant to leave her alone – an instinct which proves prophetic.

Willow Vale is a slow story, and contains a great deal of introspection of both major characters, as one questions the other’s motives and expectations, then begin to understand, then depend upon each other.

Francesca becomes ill at one stage and her reflections on her past life and tragedies during this time are fascinating, but oddly positioned. I felt the facts revealed here would be better placed closer to the beginning so I could understand Francesca a little more. However this serves its purpose and explains a lot about her life and marriages, and the close relationship with her neighbours the Broadbents.

The narrative is well crafted as a portrait of the changing attitudes of two people thrown together in a situation they are unprepared for, and I soon stopped being frustrated with Francesca’s unreasonable behaviour as she slowly came to terms with her situation. Their guarded relationship eventually turns to love on both sides, and glides nicely to a satisfactory conclusion.

At the beginning there are some very involved explanations of how the political situation between Germany, Austria and Italy in 1918 affect Francesca’s family and their ability to earn a living. This was very well done, but author intrusion as the talk about the Hapsburg rule, the Catholic Party; Socialists; nationalists, the Popular Party supported by agriculturalists etc, would have all gone over Francesca’s head as she isn’t well educated and would fail to grasp the bigger picture of what was happening in her country.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sophia's Secret by Susanna Kearsley

Canadian Historical fiction author, Carrie Mclelland plans to write her latest work around Nathaniel Hooke, who instigated a little know Jacobite uprising that went before both the ‘15’ and the ‘45’ – in 1708 in fact which as her character Graham Keith says ‘didn’t even make it to the history books’.

Carrie begins her research in St Germaine en Laye, the castle loaned by the French King Louis XIV to the exiled Stuart kings and where they and their supporters congregated to plot and scheme to regain James II’s throne.

She travels to Scotland to visit her agent and by chance or circumstance, she is drawn to the ruins of Slains Castle, and realises this is where the story of the 1708 rebellion really begins. Not only that, but her own Ancestor, Sophia Paterson was also at Slains at the same time.  Carrie rents a cottage from Jimmy Keith and her research takes a mysterious turn, in that facts, feelings and impressions she imagines or discovers, like the layout of the castle,  are startlingly close to the truth. Is something, or someone guiding her subconscious to make these connections with her story?

Thrown into the mix are two other men, Jimmy’s sons Graham and Stuart, both of whom affect her in entirely different ways. One is handsome, outgoing and available, while the other is fascinating, enigmatic and sends Carrie’s pulse racing.

The story Carrie planned to write unfolds in a way she cannot explain and more and more Sophia Paterson raises her head, and her memory becoming the narrator of her book.

Ms Kearsley’s characters are exceptionally well drawn, and the historic ones are very different to those in the modern day, so it’s easy for the reader to jump the centuries and live in Sophia’s world as well as Carrie’s – and at times forget the other exists!

What I especially liked, was the way Ms Kearsley describes the process of writing a book, from the detailed notes and the ‘writer’s trance’  that intrudes at the most inconvenient times so those around us think we are uninterested in them, to the a writer's 'lost time' which we embrace, and in fact search for, to the ‘colouring in of maps’.

This story is reminiscent of Barbara Erskine’s Lady of Hay, the book which launched my fascination with reading, and writing historical fiction. I am no Jacobite, but I have always wondered how different English history would be had Queen Anne made her half brother her heir. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will certainly seek out more of Ms Kearsley’s work.

'Sophia's Secret' was also released under the title 'The Winter Sea'

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney


Frank Delaney, New York Times bestselling author of Ireland, Shannon, Tipperary, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, and The Matchmaker of Kenmare, is the unparalleled master of Irish historical fiction, bringing Ireland to life with exceptional warmth, wisdom, and wit. Now, in The Last Storyteller, Delaney weaves an absorbing tale of lasting love, dangerous risk, and the healing power of redemption.

“Every legend and all mythologies exist to teach us how to run our days. In kind fashion. A loving way. But there’s no story, no matter how ancient, as important as one’s own. So if we’re to live good lives, we have to tell ourselves our own story. In a good way.” So says James Clare, Ben MacCarthy’s beloved mentor, and it is this fateful advice that will guide Ben through the tumultuous events of Ireland in 1956.

The national mood is downtrodden; poverty, corruption, and a fledgling armed rebellion rattle the countryside, and although Ben wants no part of the upstart insurrection along the northern border, he unknowingly falls in with an IRA sympathizer and is compromised into running guns. Yet despite his perilous circumstances, all he can think about is finding his former wife and true love, the actress Venetia Kelly.

Parted forcibly from Ben years ago, Venetia has returned to Ireland with her new husband, a brutal man and coarse but popular stage performer by the name of Gentleman Jack. Determined not to lose Venetia again, Ben calls upon every bit of his love, courage, and newfound gun-running connections to get her back. And as Ben fights to recapture his halcyon days with Venetia, he must finally reconcile his violent and flawed past with his hopes for a bright and loving future.

Brimming with fascinating Irish history, daring intrigue, and the drama of legendary love, The Last Storyteller is an unforgettable novel as richly textured and inspiring as Ireland itself.


Review:

The Last Storyteller is the third and final installment in the story of Ben McCarthy and his estranged, Venetia Kelly. The trilogy began with Venetia Kelly’s Travelling Show which was followed by The Matchmaker of Kenmare. Spanning two decades, through these novels, Frank Delaney has given readers a glimpse of Ireland and its rich culture.

In this ambitious epic, Ben McCarthy is the main character. Venetia, his estranged wife, plays a larger role in this final book. The brilliance of this book and the talent of the author lies in the author’s ability to cover the larger scope of Ireland’s history such as the IRA and poverty while never losing sight of Ben whose own personal adversities evolve as the story progresses and the reader comes to understand his pain, his losses, and motivations.

Although I encourage you to read all three of these intriguing novels, each one can stand alone because the author provides a complete background of the story so far at the start of each book. As I read through the stories, Ben MacCarthy, and the journey and adventures in his life, began to feel real to me. The Last Storyteller closes the trilogy with a completely satisfying ending.

Frank Delaney is a master storyteller himself. His passion for Irish history is evident on each page that is intermingled with politics, adversity, and plenty of conflict. Never boring, always entertaining, and forever poignant, this was a trilogy on a grand scale. A highly recommended trilogy indeed!



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric





Savage hyena-like creatures threaten Venice - the Ravageurs are on the prowl and seizing men, women and children. On the night of 30 June 1846 Talina's parents disappear and she and her cat, Drusilla, are forced to go and live with her Guardian and his three savage dogs in his lonely tower in the northernmost edge of the city. Here she discovers that she has the ability to change herself into a cat, but changing herself back into a girl isn't quite so easy. As a cat she learns about the Ravageurs and how over the centuries they have become semi magical creatures, visible only to children in the human world, and that they are intent on destroying Venice. She is determined to save the city - it's time for desperate measures - and her adventures are about to begin.


Review:

I was especially pleased to learn about this book, not only because I adore Italian historical fiction, but because it is aimed towards the youth market. The beautiful cover art drew me to it even more and made reading it a true pleasure. It is a wonderful book to introduce history and fantasy to an avid young reader. Girls especially will love it, but so will boys. 

Reading Talina in the Tower was a lovely experience that took me back to those summer days when I was a kid, devouring one book after another. With a touch of history and a sprinkling of magic set in a spectacular backdrop, this was a lovely book to read and enjoy. It is the tale of a bold girl whose parents are missing. She is forced to live with an evil guardian who writes books about children who meet tragic ends, but she is determined to persevere and sets out in search for her parents. Born with the ability to read two books simultaneously, Talina accidently turns herself into a cat while reading a magic book and recipe at the same time.  And then a magical adventure begins filled with fascinating characters, terrible creatures, and a very nasty villain.

To say this story is wonderfully creative would be an understatement. It is more than that – vivid, believable, well written, and heart-wrenching. Despite the eclectic collection of creatures and people, it makes sense and is believable. They seem real and leaped off the pages as I read along. The adventure quest took me from one set of troubles to the next, always keeping those pages turning.

This novel is aimed at the young adult market, but can be enjoyed by adults as well because the prose and story is rich and not overly simplified. From the beauty of its breath-taking cover to the wonderfully emotional tale told with spell-binding prose, this is a treasure of a book I’ve placed lovingly on my collector’s shelf – one to keep and pass on to the next generation of children in my family.





  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim


A powerful book about slavery and the enduring strength of women facing adversity.

Summary:

Moments after her birth to the mistress of a sprawling Virginia plantation, Lisbeth Wainwright is entrusted to Mattie, an enslaved wet nurse. From then on, Mattie serves as Lisbeth's stand-in mother, nursing her, singing her to sleep, and soothing her in the night. And yet mothering Lisbeth tears Mattie away from her own baby, Samuel, who lives in the slave quarters. Growing up under Mattie's tender care, Lisbeth adopts her traditions of prayer, singing, eating black-eyed peas, and hunting for yellow crocuses in the spring. As the years pass, Lisbeth is drawn back into the white world, earning a growing awareness of the inequality of her and Mattie's stations. She struggles to reconcile her love for Mattie with her parents' expectations for her future, intent on keeping the best of both worlds-until a terrible betrayal forces her to choose once and for all. Yellow Crocus is a compelling novel of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is a tale about Lisbeth Wainwright, the daughter of plantation owners who is ultimately raised by a loving black slave named Mattie. But far beyond the basic story, strong themes run throughout. Not only does this novel delve into the issue of slavery in the southern United States, but it is about the forced parting of black families, the selling of husbands and wives, the separation of children from their mothers. Despite such painful happenings, black men and women survived under such oppression.

Life-changing decisions, heart-wrenching separations, and enduring love are poignantly depicted. It was a pure joy to read, with the story line delicately unfolding page by page, holding the reader’s interest. In fact, the story begins with Mattie being wrenched away from her infant son to become nursemaid to the newly born Lisbeth in the main house. Intricate details about the birth and after the birth make for vivid reading. From thereon, the story focuses on the relationship between the two and the abiding love that burgeons between them. And what a fabulous ending – highly satisfying!

A powerful book about slavery and the enduring strength of women facing adversity. Yup it’s heart-wrenching, but a story that just has to be read. 

Without Refuge by Diane Scott Lewis

Diane Scott Lewis’ sequel to ‘The False Light’ opens with Bettina Jonquiere, leaving England aboard ship bound for the Americas with her children, Christian and Genevre, Everett’s nephew Frederick and her servant. In New Orleans she struggles to establish a new life for her children. With no idea whether Everett is still alive, Bettina must decides to go in search of her mother who fled to Louisiana after the horrors of the French Revolution.

Her reunion with her mother is not quite what she imagined, as the widowed countess is about to marry again to a man Bettina takes an immediate dislike to.

The political situation in the south changes and before long, Bettina as a fugitive aristo is under threat yet again, and it doesn’t help that her British passport is a fake.  A ruthless Frenchman demands the money stolen by her father at the start of the French Revolution and kidnaps Bettina. Convinced she knows where the money is hidden, he takes her to France. However, Bettina is nothing if not resourceful and she manages to turn the situation to her own advantage and goes in search of the only man she will ever love.

Ms Scott Lewis has drawn a brave and determined heroine in Bettina, who allows nothing to get in her way of living the way she wants to. The author’s descriptions of the tropical climate of Louisiana’s cloying humid heat and mosquitoes was very realistic. I also liked the way she developed the character of Frederick, the little boy she tutored who proves to be willful and independent, causing Bettina a few problems trying to raise him alone.

Fans of Ms Scot Lewis’ novels will not be disappointed with this latest offering. I think we shall see a lot more of her work.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Alaina Claiborne by M K McClintock


MK McKlintock’s novel is a late Victorian adventure story about spies, murder, jealousy, betrayal and young love that begins during the heroine’s childhood and a situation which leads to the murder of her parents.

Tristan Sheffield meets her when she is grown up and although she was present at her parent’s death, she cannot remember the incident. Through some gentle probing and a kidnapping incident, Alaina recalls the face of the man who was responsible and sets off a train of events to bring him to justice.

Tristan reveals to Alaina that he is a government agent as well as being a duke, and his own father was killed at the hands of the same villain. Together they join forces with two other associates on various eventful exploits to expose the culprit.

Along the way, friends, servants and relatives alike turn out to be not quite what they seem as Alaina tries to make sense of her past and her present.  Or has Alaina unwisely allowed herself to fall in love with Tristan, a man she does not know very well and could also turn out to be her enemy?

Alaina Claiborne has a promising plot for a first time novelist, though the story suffers from a lack of polish which I found distracting, as well as some anachronisms. For instance having a ‘sheriff’  investigate crime in Victorian England,  and the use of 20th Century terms like  ‘Hi’ and ‘OK’ .

However, the storyline is intriguing and Alaina is a brave, self contained heroine who is immediately engaging, and Tristan a well crafted hero who deserves his final reward. The story kept my attention in that I wanted to know if those I suspected were guilty and what happens at the end.

M K Mclintock shows passion in her characters’ growing feelings for one another as they set about solving the mystery of her parent’s murders. The couple’s introspection and growing feelings is both emotional and charming, so maybe readers won’t fixate on the mechanics of the narrative as I did, but as a writer I cannot turn off my internal editor!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat is a page turning novel of hard choices and survival!

Back Cover Summary:

Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life. In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die. As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it? 

The Lifeboat is a page-turning novel of hard choices and survival, narrated by a woman as unforgettable and complex as the events she describes.


Review:

An explosion on a luxury liner sends passengers scrambling for lifeboats. Grace and several other passengers overcrowd a lifeboat where they remain adrift for many days. Treacherous ocean storms, death, hunger, and thirst plague them, forcing life and death decisions and sacrifices. And after all the bittersweet, life and death situations ended, Grace ultimately finds herself on trial for her life, sending the reader swirling into conflict once more. 

With highly detailed, fast paced writing, the author literally made me feel as if I was on that boat. I suffered through the poignant moments, the desperation, and the unfailing determination to survive by the heroine. The Lifeboat had scenes that were so poignant, so tragic, it gripped me from start to finish. This is a story that will make you feel as anguished as the passengers. An unusual, fascinating novel of historical fiction. Absolutely enjoyable!