Who’s That Indie Author? Pat Spencer

Author Name: Pat Spencer

Genre: Thriller, Historical and Literary Fiction

Books: Story of a Stolen Girl (international thriller) and upcoming Golden Boxty in the Frypan (Historical Fiction) to be released in 2023 by Pen It Publications, and Sticks in a Bundle: The Early Years (Literary and Historical Fiction).

Bio:  Besides six states in the U.S., I lived in Canada and Germany. I love traveling and getting to know people and their cultures. When not writing or traveling, I golf, read, walk the beach, hang out with family and friends or frequent book clubs

What got you started as a writer? My second-grade teacher pinned my Christopher Columbus report on the bulletin board for parents’ night and then bragged about what a good writer I was. I was hooked. But then my career counselor in high school shared reports about how little money the average writer earned, so I went into education.

What is your writing routine? I write almost every day. I carve out time in the mornings and then again after lunch when I am home all day.

What route did you take to get your books published? I was pretty successful with my nonfiction writing. I published a textbook with the first and only publisher that I queried. Imagine that! I also served as a columnist for a large newspaper and as a columnist, reporter, and editor for a tabletop magazine. I also freelanced for a trade journal. I self-published my first novel, Story of a Stolen Girl. For my second novel, Golden Boxty in the Frypan, I sent out queries and accepted a contract offer from Pen It Publications.

What things do you do to promote your books? My favorite promotional activities are events: signings, book fairs, book club meetings, public speaking at community and service groups. I also post on my website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? My favorite genre is generally a crossover of literary and historical fiction because these books typically provide the depth of character development and insight into the past that I enjoy.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I prefer to write emotions and the six senses. Both can be conveyed in either dialogue or description.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book The main character of my Sticks in a Bundle Trilogy surprised me by revealing more than I expected about her life and coming-of-age under the oppressive rule of apartheid. I thought she would tell me enough for one fairly thick novel, but her life was far too complex for that.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Earning a Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside while being a wife, mother, and full-time professor at Riverside Community College.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? Many people and experiences have contributed over time, too many to list here.

What would you tell your younger self? Finish college while you are young. I completed my Ph.D. when I was 50 years old and that was hard. Then go out into the world and be bold—travel, see the world, meet people different than you.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I have not met up with a bear, but if I did, I would toss all my food to him or her, and back away quickly.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? If I only have water, I’d chose a candy bar, but not necessarily Snickers. I prefer a Heath Bar, Payday, or $100,000 Bar. If I happened to have a beer in my backpack, I’d choose Nacho Doritos. Why? Because I don’t like to eat salty things while drinking water. It reminds me of all the water I swallowed when I surfed and snorkled.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Probably 6 or 7. I like small kitchens and eating out.

Closing thoughts: I thank Book Club Mom for allowing me to share with you. Writing can be an isolating endeavor, so I appreciate opportunities such as this to talk with other readers and writers. If you would like to receive the traditional recipes my characters love to cook, log on to my website and send me a note.

Website and social media links:
Website: patspencer.net
Twitter: @DrPatSpencer
Facebook: Pat Spencer
Instagram: drpatspencer


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds
by
Kristin Hannah

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’ve always liked stories of endurance and standing up for what is right. I also like sagas and historical fiction and The Four Winds checks all these boxes. The story is set in the Texas Panhandle in the 1920s and 30s, during the Great Depression, years of drought and continuous dust storms, and later in California during the great migration west. Throughout these hardships, Elsa Wolcott undergoes a transformation and discovers the strength she needs to protect and provide for her family.

Before this, Elsa has only known a life of seclusion. At fourteen, she contracted rheumatic fever and doctors tell her she has a weak heart. Her father’s prosperous business has ensured that the family lives well, but because of her condition, Elsa’s parents declare her unmarriageable. Besides, who would want a woman like her, overly tall, with thin and colorless hair and so unlike her pretty sisters?

Now, at twenty-five, Elsa knows she must do something to change her life. She takes the advice her Texas ranger grandfather. “Don’t worry about dying, Elsa. Worry about not living. Be brave,” he told her before he died. A period of rebellion leaves Elsa pregnant by an Italian boy named Rafe Martinelli. Upon hearing the news, her parents disown her and she must begin a life with Rafe’s farming family.

One of the reasons I like sagas is because I like reading about how events and the characters change over time, so I’m not going to describe what happens next. But you can be sure that the author includes plenty of developments to keep you interested, especially with the historical backdrop of extreme hardship. Hannah includes themes of the American Dream, perseverance, heroism, love and family countered by the Martinelli’s and other families’ stubbornness about leaving Texas. How can you give up on the land that provided for you?

I liked this book. It’s very readable, but it’s hard not to compare it to The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I don’t think there is any book that better describes the plight of dust bowl farmers and the migration to California during the Great Depression. When The Grapes of Wrath was published, Steinbeck said, “I’ve done my damndest to rip a reader’s nerves to rags.” He put heart and soul into expressing his outrage over the treatment of these poor migrant farm workers and he did it with vivid descriptions and powerful characters. It’s a tall order to write another story as powerful as his.

That said, I am fascinated by this period of American history and the resolve of those who lost their farms and traveled west for a better life. I’d call The Four Winds a light version of a similar story.

Click here for a review of The Grapes of Wrath and stay tuned for a post about the Great Depression and the western migration.

Thanks for visiting—come back soon!

Like Kristin Hannah’s books? Check out this review of The Great Alone.

My Kindle is loaded!

Hi Everyone! I’m going to have a lot of time to read during the next five days so I loaded up my Kindle with potential books. It’s such a fun feeling to know I can pick any one of these, depending on my mood! I even threw a spooky read – I hope I can handle it 👻

I haven’t been on the blog much this month because my off-blog schedule has been crazy! Things will settle down next week and I look forward to getting back into my routine and visiting all of you!

Thanks so much for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Heather J. Bennett

Author Name: Heather J. Bennett

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Historical (1970s)/Romance

Books: Letting Go, Expecting to Fly

Bio: As a music fan, Heather focuses her writing on the undisclosed lives of musicians. She is the author of Letting Go and Expecting to Fly and the award-winning short story “Amsterdam” published through Southwest Writers. A native of Long Island, NY, she has been transplanted to Dallas, TX (y’all), where she works as a Marketing Coordinator.

What got you started as a writer? My 1st-grade teacher gave us an assignment and I’ve been a writer ever since.

What is your writing routine? I belong to a writing critique group that meets every Tuesday. A Zoom writing session every Thursday, another writing guild that has an ongoing café to use, plus a full-day writing retreat on the 2nd Saturday of each month, and in between, I try to write/edit at least 1-2 hours after work and on the weekends.

What route did you take to get your book(s) published? I am a self-published author learning more and more each day!

What things do you do to promote your books? I have a Facebook page, and an Instagram page, and am currently working on getting out now that the world is open again. I’d like to do some tabling events and readings. I just moved to the Dallas area and am still learning what it has to offer to authors.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I like reading a variety of genres from YA to paranormal/supernatural to romance. I think I tend to read mostly YA because of the storytelling and they feel the most relevant to the world today.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Oh, I much prefer dialogue!

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? My characters surprise me with every book! In Letting Go, my main character did something completely unexpected and I ended up crying at my desk – in the office because I was writing on my lunch break!

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Getting a job offer here in Texas, finding someplace to live in Texas, flying home, packing up my house and storage unit, finding a mover, loading it all up and moving from New York – in FIVE DAYS. My new employer had no idea I was in New York – but I made it happen and it’s the best thing I’ve done.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life?  1. Moving to the Netherlands for 4 years. 2. Moving to Philadelphia for 18 years. 3. Moving to Dallas. With each move, I discovered more independence, and more places to explore, and learned that most people want the same things in life no matter where they’re from.

What would you tell your younger self? You don’t have to be the next greatest American author – you just have to keep writing. It will still bring you joy and the most interesting, amazing people will come into your life through your efforts.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I’ve never met a bear on a hike – but there is that meme… if you see me running, you’d better run, too!

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Oh, I always go for the Pop Tarts! They’ve got vitamins and nutrients, right? Almost healthy, even! (Doritos are a second choice, in case the vending machine gets stuck, but then I’d have Dorito breath….)

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? My kitchen only holds about 3. My friend’s kitchen, however? We had about 20 for Friends Thanksgiving each year.

Closing thoughts: I hope to be able to speak with you all soon!

Website and social media links:
Website: HeatherJBennett.com
Facebook: Heather J Bennett Novelist
Instagram: heatherjbennett_author
LinkedIn: heather-j-bennett


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray

Author Name: Jacqui Murray

Books: 6 books in the Man vs. Nature series; 2 Rowe-Delamagente thrillers; Building a Midshipman–the story of my daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy; and about 50 technology-in-education curricula books

Genre: Historical Fiction; Prehistoric Fiction

Bio: My first job was teaching in a dance studio I owned. That led to exporting wastepaper from a recycling center, installing cell phone antennas, and finally, a K-18 teacher. Because I had to write my own curricula, I realized I had a flare for writing and never looked back.

What got you started as a writer? Curiosity! I wanted to know how man survived when we had no defenses against the dangerous primal animals of our past. The available books dealt with artifacts and bones, not problem solving. It took about fifteen years, but I figured it out!

What is your writing routine? Because many of my daily tasks involve writing (teaching, write reviews for clients, and my own writing), I spend from 7 am to 6:30 pm writing. I take breaks every few hours, but my focus always is on writing.

What route did you take to get your books published? Like most of us, I tried to find a traditional agent for my first book, To Hunt a Sub. One showed interest, but we parted ways—amicably. When no one else stepped in to fill the void, I took the Indie plunge. I have never looked back.

What things do you do to promote your books? Other than my big book launch blog hop, I post to my Facebook page, my Linked In profile, and my Twitter feed. That’s about it!

What is your favorite genre to read and why? Westerns, hands down. The people in Westerns are hard-working, earnest, moral, task-oriented, and never quit. They share these qualities with my prehistoric folk so I enjoy reading how they solve incorrigible problems and face down enemies more powerful than they.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? No answer to that one! They both serve an important role in fiction.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? A resounding yes! In fact, I have an article I’ll publish in October with a long list of “What I learned from my characters.” This isn’t the first time, either. I had the same epiphany with my thriller characters and prior prehistoric fiction characters.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? There are so many, but arguably, the most difficult has been letting go of my two children. I want to step in, make everything right, tell them the decision they should make, but they’re adults. I can’t. They’re launched.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? It took a bit of thinking, but I figured this answer out: the forgiveness of God, the understanding of my family, and the purity of my many dogs.

What would you tell your younger self? Actually, nothing. There is a lot to be learned from mistakes. If I fixed all the things I did wrong, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? Because I read the Mountain Man genre, about the strong, independent folk who lived in the Rockies during the early 1800s, I actually know it’s not one thing. I would be aware of my surroundings. Bears have poor eyesight, so if I don’t move and I’m downwind, do they know I’m there? Is it a mama with her cubs (much more dangerous)? Is it a Black Bear or Grizzly? And all of that has to be calculated in about half a second.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Can’t eat chocolate so that answer’s easy!

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? 10.5 (hehee)

Closing thoughts: Thank you for this opportunity to visit with your community, Barbara. This has been a lot of fun with unusual questions (A bear? Really?) Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I’ll answer what I can!

Website and social media links:
Website: jacquimurray.net
Blog: worddreams.wordpress.com
Twitter: @WordDreams
Instagram: jacquimurraywriter
LinkedIn: Jacqui Murray
Pinterest: askatechteacher
Amazon Author Page: Jacqui-Murray


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Review: Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Love and Ruin
by
Paula McLain

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

You may know that I’m a big Ernest Hemingway fan. I’ve read all his books except To Have and Have Not and many of his short stories. I’m also a little obsessed with the person behind his books, how he started out and his relationships, especially with his four wives. I’d read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain years ago and liked it very much. That’s about Hemingway’s early career and his first marriage to Hadley Richardson. During those years, he wrote The Sun Also Rises, his first novel. Love and Ruin is the story of Hemingway’s marriage to Martha Gellhorn, his third wife. I didn’t know about her, but she was a novelist, travel writer, and a famous and fearless war correspondent, the only woman to land at Normandy on D-Day and report on the invasion first-hand. For sixty years, she covered every world conflict that was out there.

Hemingway wrote what may be considered his best book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, while he was married to Gellhorn. Before they were married, they had spent time in Spain reporting on the Spanish Civil War, while Hemingway was married to Pauline Pfeiffer. That’s when their affair began.

Love and Ruin is the story of two very strong egos. It’s about Hemingway’s overwhelming and selfish personality and Gellhorn’s insistence on having her own career, which meant being away from home for long periods of time. Hemingway hated that, felt abandoned and behaved poorly. In this account, Gellhorn was just as stubborn as he was and there was a competitive vibe between them, especially when his books did better than hers. I got the feeling that they both acted selfishly in part to one-up the other. It was obvious to me that Gellhorn was a formidable opponent, not the kind of domestic wife Hemingway really wanted. She was also a trailblazer for women and careers.

I liked Love and Ruin, but I didn’t think it was as good as The Paris Wife. The first half reads more like a history book and I had a harder time getting to know Gellhorn, even though it’s written from her point of view. I liked the parts that helped me see the early seeds of For Whom the Bell Tolls and I learned a lot about Gellhorn’s impressive career. I also learned some new things about Hemingway and his sad decline. McLain did a tremendous amount of research to write Love and Ruin and it shows. Gellhorn burned all her personal papers before she died, so McLain had to piece together what she could about their marriage. I enjoyed the second half of the book, which really dug into the meat of their marital conflicts.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Check out my review of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

Like Hemingway? Me too! Check out my reviews:

The Sun Also Rises

A Farewell to Arms

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The Old Man and the Sea

A Moveable Feast

“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

“Hills Like White Elephants”

“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”

Who’s That Indie Author? Bjørn Larssen

Author Name: Bjørn Larssen

Genre: historical fiction, fantasy

Books: Storytellers (historical fiction set in Iceland), Children (a dark Norse myth retelling), Why Odin Drinks (humorous Norse myth retelling)

Bio: Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. He has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). Winner of Queer Indie Lit award, Stabby nominee, Eric Hoffer Grand Prize Award finalist.

What got you started as a writer? In 2015 I tried to lift a massive Ikea kitchen unit and ended in a special profiled chair, only left to eat, sleep, and see doctors. I’ve always told people I’d totally write a book if I had time. Well, now I had all the time, a life I needed to escape, and a story demanding to be told…

What is your writing routine? I don’t really have one. There are days when I write for hours, followed by days when I just keep existing until I can go to bed and hope for a better tomorrow.

What route did you take to get your books published? During work on Storytellers, my debut, I was researching various forms of publishing. It turned out that traditional publishing had nothing to offer me except validation—after years of rejections from agents and editors, of course. I never received a single rejection, because I never sent a single query. I chose self-publishing and I have no regrets.

What things do you do to promote your books? I post silly stuff on Twitter and Facebook, I have a mailing list, a ko-fi page, a website in dire need of updating. I write guest posts or do interviews like this one 🙂 I’ve been just about to join TikTok for at least a year. Not that I’m afraid or anything…

What is your favorite genre to read and why? In 2019-2020 I went through lots of grimdark, then suddenly reality started doing whatever it is that it’s doing. I switched to romcoms and humour, and stayed there.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Dialogue—once I find the character’s voice. Readers tell me my descriptions are great—the word “cinematic” gets used a lot. They have no idea what I see, hear, taste, smell, and fail to describe well enough.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? When I try to force a character to do something for the sake of the plot, they often cross their arms on their chest and announce “Nope, I wouldn’t do that.” Unfortunately they don’t tell me what they would do instead. It’s up to me to tweak the plot and hope they like the new one.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Moving from Poland to the Netherlands. It was the best, the scariest, and the BIGGEST decision I have ever made. The only thing I ever regretted was not doing it earlier.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh are two books that literally saved my life. And… my therapist. After two years of c-PTSD therapy I’m such a different person that I need to get re-acquainted with myself. So far I seem quite nice.

What would you tell your younger self? Just because you are forced to do adult things, that doesn’t mean you’re an adult. Don’t be so hard on yourself. (Then I’d give him a long, warm hug.) And don’t lift kitchen units.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? In the gay community, a “bear” is a big, hairy beast of a man. I have met up with a bear or two on hikes. 😉

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Snickers. I don’t like Doritos (pauses for gasps to subside), I don’t know Fudge Pop Tarts, and I don’t like taking risks when I can only pick one.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Oh, ten or so? In a kitchen made for two if they really like each other? Every good party ends up moving to the kitchen, it’s a law.

Closing thoughts: I always blank at open questions… um… Sam Ryder is a human golden retriever. It’s a thought, right?

Thank you so much for having me!

Website and social media links:
Website: www.bjornlarssen.com
Twitter: @bjornlarssen
Instagram: bjorn_larssen


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Book Club Mom’s Indie Authors of 2021- here they are!

This year I highlighted twenty-two hard working indie authors, writers of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and children’s books. They have great stories to tell about their writing careers, so if you missed any, I hope you’ll visit them now.

Gail Aldwin – Contemporary Fiction

Bruce W. Bishop – Historical Fiction, Family Saga

Susan Blackmon – Historical Fiction

K. Blanton Brenner – Family Saga

Lorelei Brush – Upmarket Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction

Sheila M. Cronin – Fiction

Jill Culiner – Nonfiction, Mystery, Romance and Romantic Suspense.

Kim Fairley – Nonfiction, Memoir

Tabitha Forney – Upmarket Fiction

Jacqueline Friedland – Women’s Fiction

Allan Hudson – Action/Adventure, Historical

Jane Elizabeth Hughes – Women’s Fiction

Miriam Hurdle – Poetry and Children’s Books

Kaitlyn Jain – Nonfiction, Travel, Memoir

Laurie James – Memoir

Leora Krygier – Memoir, Fiction

Tammy Pasterick – Historical Fiction

Angela Paolantonio – Memoir, Place-Based Travel Memoir, Women’s Studies

Margaret Rodenberg – Historical Fiction

Lauren Scott – Poetry, Memoir

Joe Wells – Murder Mystery

Faith Wilcox – Memoir


In January, I’ll be putting together a new set of interview questions and making a few other format changes. If you’d like to be highlighted, email bvitelli2009@gmail.com and I’ll send you the new questions as soon as they’re ready.

Happy holidays!

Who’s That Indie Author? Allan Hudson

Author Name: Allan Hudson 

Genre: Fiction – Action/Adventure, Historical

Books: Drake Alexander Adventure series – Dark Side of a Promise, Wall of War & Vigilantes. Jo Naylor adventure series – Shattered Figurine & Shattered Lives. A collection of short stories – A Box of Memories and historical fiction- The Alexanders 1911 – 1920.

Brief bio: I live on the east coast of Canada in the province of NB with my wife Gloria. Retired from a mixed career of woodworking and jewellery sales. I have a loving family and consider myself a very lucky man.

What got you started as a writer? Being an avid reader, I always wanted to write my own stories. When I discovered Bryce Courtenay’s wonderful books and the fact he only started writing in his mid -fifties, it was all the encouragement I needed. I haven’t looked back since.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? Once my first manuscript was finished, I didn’t know where to turn and the amount of information available was overwhelming. Not sure of where to go next, I discovered self-publishing and I couldn’t be happier with the path I’ve taken, but it was a difficult decision to make in the beginning.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? No I have not.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? I would advise them to tread carefully on what so many companies promise in publishing your book and the high prices they charge. Best to join a writer’s group or befriend other authors for their help. They’ve been through what new authors are experiencing and can offer valuable advice.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid?  No major challenges other than being safe and protecting myself and family. The best part of the isolation was the time to write.

What are you reading right now? I am reading Agent Zigzag by Ben MacIntyre. A true account of a British spy during World War 2.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? Both actually. I love that the written word can make me emotional, one way or another.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? I have in fact. Being a reader since I could hold a book, I once built a platform in a tree near my house in the country and used to crawl up there with a bottle of Pepsi and crackers and a Hardy Boys detective book.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean?  Fortunately not.

Could you live in a tiny house? Sure. As long as there is room for my favorite books and a place to cuddle with my wife.

What are the small things that make you happy? Chocolate cake. Love notes from my wife. Puppies and kittens. Post-it-notes. Completed to-do lists. Pencils. And my favorite coffee mug.

Website and social media links:
Blog: southbranchscribbler.com
Facebook: @southbranchscribbler
Goodreads: goodreads.com/allanhudson
Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ps2yfpzp


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Book Review: The Address by Fiona Davis

The Address
by
Fiona Davis

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve always enjoyed reading stories set in New York and have been meaning to read The Address for a long time. In this 2017 novel by Fiona Davis, Sara Smythe and Bailey Camden live in New York, one hundred years apart. They are connected in indeterminate ways to the 1885 murder of the fictional architect Theodore Camden. Set in 1884 and 1984, their narratives revolve around the famous Dakota, an apartment building in New York.

The Dakota is a real place. Located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, its tenants include famous musicians, artists and actors. It’s also where John Lennon was murdered in 1980. When it first opened in 1884, the Dakota was actually in a remote part of NYC, if you can believe it. Designed to attract the newly wealthy, the building opened its doors to a full staff and plenty of luxuries.

Sara’s story begins in 1884 when Theodore Camden recruits her from the London Langham Hotel to become the first managerette (how do you like that job title?) of the Dakota. Unmarried and in her thirties, Sara works as the head housekeeper. She’s ready for a change, however and drawn to Theodore’s charms, despite the fact that he’s married with three young children. In a bold decision, Sara quits her job and crosses the Atlantic to start a new life during New York’s gilded age. She lives at the Dakota and confidently manages a large staff of housekeepers, porters, maintenance crew and the tenants’ maids. Unable to resist their mutual attractions, Theo and Sara begin an affair that leads to Theo’s ultimate death and the end of Sara’s career.

Jumping to 1984, interior designer Bailey Camden must rebuild her life after a struggle with drugs and alcohol. Out of rehab and jobless, she visits her wealthy cousin Melinda Camden, who lives at the Dakota, in the same apartment where Theo was murdered. Bailey’s family connection to the wealthy Camdens began when her grandfather became Theodore Camden’s ward. Melinda will soon inherit trust money, but Bailey, whose family has learned to live without, will not. In a gesture of seemingly good will, Melinda hires Bailey to redesign her apartment and agrees to let her live there until she gets on her feet. When Bailey discovers personal items belonging to Sara and Theo’s family, she will soon learn more about the affair and just how she fits into the Camden lineage.

I enjoyed this novel which is part mystery and part historical fiction. Davis explores the messy themes of money, class, inheritance and family and entertains the reader with images of New York’s upper and working classes and the city’s development and its varied architecture. In addition, a special appearance by investigative journalist Nellie Bly provides an up-close look at the horrors of Blackwell Island’s Insane Asylum. I recommend The Address to fans of New York stories as well as readers who like historical fiction, interesting characters and themes of money and class.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!