VISIBLE EMPIRE by HANNAH PITTARD

Visible Empire

It’s a humid June day when the phones begin to ring in Atlanta: disaster has struck. Air France Flight 007, which had been chartered to ferry home more than one hundred of Atlanta’s cultural leaders following a luxurious arts-oriented tour of Europe, crashed shortly after takeoff in Paris. In one fell swoop, many of the city’s wealthiest residents perished.

Left behind were children, spouses, lovers, friends, and a city on the cusp of great change: the Civil Rights movement was at its peak, the hedonism of the 60s was at its doorstep. In Hannah Pittard’s dazzling and most ambitious novel yet, she gives us the journeys of those who must now rebuild this place and their lives.

Visible Empire follows the chaos—and hope—that remained in the wake of the crash, and the truths that became evident because of it. This is a story about how we choose to look at the world, and those moments when we finally see it for what it is—whether we’re ready for that clarity or not.

Over 100 art lovers, patrons, and journalists from Atlanta, Georgia have been killed in the horrific crash of Air France at Orly. Leaving behind family and friends to grieve.

Told from multiple points of view, we follow Robert and his wife Lily. Robert has been a very bad boy and has just told Lily about his affair with a fellow reporter and has been promptly kicked to the curb. Lily is in the last stages of pregnancy when she finds out the next day that she has lost her parents in the crash as well.

The 1960’s in Atlanta were a tense time. Racial lines had been drawn and to cross over them meant certain death. But young black men are tired of waiting for things to change and some take to violence.

Their are all kinds of people taking advantage of the tragedy of the crash. From the young to the old enough to know better.

We hear the story of the Mayor trying his best to help, but I’m still not sure what was up with the wife.

Others who have found themselves suddenly wealthy are getting drunk and high and spinning quickly out of control and you just feel the tension in the air around each character. Tragedy has a way of changing a person but whether it is for the better is not a foregone conclusion.

This was a bit wordy for me. I thought Lily and Piedmont’s characters were the strongest and most honest. The rest of them were like vultures circling roadkill. Not a pretty sight. And as for the ending, I’m not sure what that was.

Being born and raised in Georgia I had read about this event in school. It was shocking and changed a lot of lives forever.

Try it for yourself and let me know what you thought!

Netgalley/une 5th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Daughters of the Winter Queen by Nancy Goldstone

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots.

From the author of The Rival Queens, a lively group biography of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, and her four daughters, whose lives paint a vivid picture of the upheavals of 17th-century Europe

Set in the tumultuous seventeenth century, DAUGHTERS OF THE WINTER QUEEN tells the delicious and dramatic stories of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen–granddaughter of the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots–and her four unforgettable daughters.

This is the story of Elizabeth who would marry a man who became the King of Bohemia. While she gave birth to 13 children these four girls were the only ones to make it to adults. The story focuses mainly on Elizabeth until her death when more about the daughters is revealed.

Starting out in Scotland and England the author takes us to the palaces of Europe and is full of details on the wars, all the political messiness, love affairs doomed to fail,betrayals and murder even.

The daughters were individuals with unique talents. Elizabeth, the scholar, Louise was an artist, Sophia was a writer and Henrietta, well, she was a beauty. Two of the girls will become abbesses, heads of convents, never marrying. One sadly died young and the other went on to almost become the Queen of England, when her son became King George I.

Goldstone tells this story with an ease that even a novice history reader will be able to understand. I would say the book is heavy on Elizabeth until she dies, so I would have liked to have seen more about the daughters. But this story of love, loss, tragedy and triumph was one I thouroughly enjoyed.

I really enjoyed this book and if you are a Tudor lover, you must read this one!

Netgalley/April 10th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company

What’s On Your Reading Pile Today?

The Neighbor In a taut psychological thriller filled with breathtaking twists, Joseph Souza explores the tangle of betrayal and deception between two neighboring couples, and asks how well we can really know others–or ourselves.

Love and Ruin The bestselling author of The Paris Wife returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway in a novel about his passionate, stormy marriage to Martha Gellhorn—a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century

Sign of the Cross (Cal Donovan #1) Introducing Harvard professor Cal Donovan in the first of an intriguing new series of religious conspiracy thrillers. 

This is a short list this week as I also have to finish packing. But some good books on the shelf. Remember The Fourth Monkey? Well I have the sequel. The Fifth To Die by J.D.Barker so I am looking forward to some really good horror!

I’m almost finished with Sign of the Cross. It is one of those books that I have to keep grabbing my research card or bug my good friend and author, Felix Alexander, who wrote The Secret of Heaven and see if his research matched up to mine. Thank goodness! There’s murder, intrigue and even the stigmata in this one. Severn House has the most interesting reads!

Enjoy your Wednesday. What’s on your week?

xx Patricia

 

The Slave-Trader’s Letter-Book by Jim Jordan ( University of Georgia Press)

n 1858 Savannah businessman Charles Lamar, in violation of U.S. law, organized the shipment of hundreds of Africans on the luxury yacht Wanderer to Jekyll Island, Georgia. The four hundred survivors of the Middle Passage were sold into bondage. This was the first successful documented slave landing in the United States in about four decades and shocked a nation already on the path to civil war.

In 1886 the North American Review published excerpts from thirty of Lamar’s letters from the 1850s, reportedly taken from his letter book, which describe his criminal activities. However, the authenticity of the letters was in doubt until very recently. In 2009, researcher Jim Jordan found a cache of private papers belonging to Charles Lamar’s father, stored for decades in an attic in New Jersey. Among the documents was Charles Lamar’s letter book, confirming him as the author.

This book has two parts. The first recounts the flamboyant and reckless life of Lamar himself, including Lamar’s involvement in southern secession, the slave trade, and a plot to overthrow the government of Cuba. A portrait emerges at odds with Lamar’s previous image as a savvy entrepreneur and principled rebel. Instead, we see a man who was often broke and whose volatility sabotaged him at every turn. His involvement in the slave trade was driven more by financial desperation than southern defiance. The second part presents the “Slave-Trader’s Letter-Book.” Together with annotations, these seventy long-lost letters shed light on the lead-up to the Civil War from the remarkable perspective of a troubled, and troubling, figure.

As a history buff and researcher, this title appealed to me right away. I am from the Brunswick/Jekyll Island area and my family has been there since before we were a country.

Lamar is a reckless and troubled man. Having his livelihood pretty much handed to him by his father, he proceeds to run every business he touches into the ground.

The book give the reader quite a bit of information that even I haven’t seen before. These letters are a valuable piece of history not only for Georgia but for the entire country. I would hope that this information would be widely spread in our schools.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone searching for answers about our beginnings and what almost tore our country apart.

Netgalley/University of Georgia Press  January Release.

Monday Reading Plan

    A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing poet Forugh Farrokhzhad, who defied Iranian society to find her voice and her destiny

“Remember the flight, for the bird is mortal.”—Forugh Farrokhzad

 Bestselling, beloved author of The Charm Bracelet spins a tale about a lost young woman and the family recipe box that changes her life.

A task a day to cure a broken heart.

Esmé Peel is approaching thirty with some trepidation, but hope in her heart. If she can just get her long-term boyfriend Andrew to propose, she will have ticked everything off her ‘things to do by the time you’re 30’ list.

Books for the week. I was thrilled when I was contacted about doing  The Recipe Box. I adore this author!

What’s everyone else reading this week?

xx Patricia    Read a book.

 

Altered To Death by Christina Freeburn

Altered to Death (A Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery, #6)

Number 6 in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series

Even knee-deep in planning her wedding, Faith Hunter finds herself distracted by the town scrapbook she was commissioned to create. Eden’s oldest mystery, the founding family’s exodus nearly a hundred years ago, remains unsolved. When a search through the family’s abandoned mansion leads to the uncovering of bones on the property and ex-boyfriend Steve Davis announces a surprise heir has staked a claim, Faith is determined to dig up the truth left behind.

Meanwhile, family friend Wyatt Buford asks Faith to look into his deadbeat father’s disappearing act and his connection to the murder. Her quest for answers unearths secrets past and present that some would prefer stay buried at any cost. Faith’s resolve to present the facts and nothing but about Eden’s history could lead to her own future being cut short.

Faith has a lot on her mind. Planning a wedding, running Scrap This with her grandmother, deciding where to live when the groom comes complete with teen daughter. And yet she is determined to find out what happened to the Everton family and why they all left town never to return. Since she is already doing a scrapbook of the town’s history, she has a lot of material to go through and when she finds the oldest Everton girl’s diary, she sticks her pert little nose right in!

But a lot of people  have secrets hidden in Eden. And they aren’t above knocking off Faith or anyone else who gets in their way!

This was a book full of interesting and memorable characters. A mystery, a story of families and perceptions and long-held secrets.

Great Job!

Netgalley/Henery Press Mystery November 28, 2017

House Of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

House of Shadows

London, 1662:

There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak.
‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘
He replied instantly. ‘It will’.

Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Ben Ansell is researching his family tree when he disappears. As his sister Holly begins a desperate search, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an ornate antique mirror and to the diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who was living at Ashdown House when it burned to the ground over 200 years ago.

Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben.

For fans of Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton comes an unforgettable novel about three women and the power one lie can have over history

Beginning in 1596, at the Palace of Holyrood House in Scotland, this wonderful historical fiction book, King James is looking at a black velvet box, sent from Queen Elizabeth as a gift at the christening of his daughter, named for Elizabeth even though she had brought about the death of his own mother, Mary Queen of Scots.

The box contains the Sistrin Pearl and a diamond encrusted hand mirror. The pearl, born of water, found in the oyster beds of the River Tay centuries before, a part of the collection of King Alexander I. The mirror, forged in fire by the glass blowers of Murano, encrusted with diamonds of the finest quality and given as a gift to King James’ mother, Mary Queen of Scots on her marriage. It was said to have powers of prophecy and destruction through fire and flood.

Following Elizabeth after she marries Frederick, an English princess marrying a German Prince, joining lands and armies. Frederick is easily seduced by the powers of the mirror and pearl. Away fighting wars to regain his lands, Elizabeth bears children and waits.

She is waiting more for her husband’s man, William Craven, than for her husband. As we easily go back and forth in the book to their story in the 1600’s to present day at Ashdown House, built by Craven for Elizabeth. It is also a story told through the eyes of the woman who did live in the house, Lavinia, a courtesan with a connection to both the past and the present.

I can imagine quite a few different readers for this book. The history buffs of course. The love stories, those interested in the Knights of the Rosy Cross.

I enjoyed this story very much.  It came out in 2015 and is now being released by Harlequin Books S.A. tomorrow.