TLC Tours

TLC Book Tours: The Race for Paris

This historical novel is quite a departure for author Meg Waite Clayton, and it was a highly successful one for this reader. The Race for Paris is set in WWII, before the liberation of Paris by the Allied forces. The novel traces the journey of two female journalists - photographer Olivia and reporter Jane - who go AWOL from the press corps in order to reach Paris with the Allies and capture the first moments of liberation to preserve for posterity, enlisting the aid of Fletcher, a British military photographer who shepherd’s them through the French countryside toward the city.

TLC Review: Bellagrand, by Paullina Simons

Bellagrand-199x300Gina and Harry gave up everything to be together. But they both want different things—from their marriage, from life, from each other . . . and from the shifting world around them. Gina, independent, compassionate, and strong, desperately wants a family. Harry, idealistic and fiercely political, wants to create a better world, a better country. At a crossroads and at cross-purposes, they pursue their opposing dreams at great cost to themselves and those near to them. Through years of passion and turmoil they rail, rage, and break each other's hearts, only to come face-to-face with a stark final choice that will forever determine their destiny.

Their journey takes them through four decades and two continents, from extreme poverty to great wealth, from the wooden planks of the troubled immigrant town of Lawrence, Massachusetts, to the marble halls and secret doors of a mystical place called . . . Bellagrand.

Simons recent novel, Bellagrand,  fills in the gap between two previously published novels, Children of Liberty and The Bronze Horseman, delving into the lives and relationships of Harry and Gina Barrington over a period of four decades, beginning in 1911. Although I hadn’t read the books on either side of Bellagrand, I was easily caught up in the story and able to orient myself to the plot and the characters.

The novel centers on the relationship between Harry and Gina, and the great love that exists between them, a love that remains steadfast through every trial Harry puts it through. Because Harold Barrington is a cock-eyed idealist, a man who steadfastly adheres to his anarchic political agenda through arrests, imprisonment, poverty, and loss of citizenship. A man who never gives up, even though it means dragging his family into the weeds with him time and again.

Bellagrand, the palatial home in South Florida that Harry’s mother bequeathed him, is the only place - literally or figuratively - where Harry and Gina have any peace. In this beautiful tropical paradise, Harry (who is under house arrest) seems to have come to terms with his revolutionary ideas, and their idyllic life makes Gina happier than she has ever been. Bellagrand becomes symbolic of all she had hoped her life would be. Yet once Harry is free, he is drawn inexorably back into the world of fomenting revolution - with disastrous results.

I flew through reading Bellagrand, my haste fueled by my anger at Harry for his ridiculous adherence to The Cause, no matter how devastating it made life for his family. How could Gina continue to stay with him and put up with it? I wondered. Her devotion to him was legion, and it saddened me to think that she might have had a far better life if only she had stood her ground. Their sexual attraction never wavered, no matter how difficult Harry was being. Gina seemed to be under some sort of spell, bewitched by this man beyond even the scope of time, place, and “traditional” women’s values.

I always enjoy a huge family saga, especially if it’s historical in nature, and read through the 400 pages of this one in just over three days.  Bellagrand was an interesting, fast paced read, but I found myself more aggravated with the characters than enraptured by them.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending, and there was no such thing to be found in this novel, which didn’t really entice me to continue reading the next installment of the series. If you’ve read the previous novels, Bellagrand provides some hefty “meat" in the middle of that bookish sandwich.

Thanks to TLC Book tours for the opportunity to read this book.


Bellagrand (uncorrected proof), by Paullina Simons

published by William Morrow, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-209813-9

Buy the book from Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indie Bound


TLC Book Tours: City of Hope

City-of-Hope-198x300The decade of the 1930's was difficult for everyone, but especially for young Ellie Hogan, whose beloved husband dies suddenly. She decides to leave Ireland and return to New York City, a place that holds happy memories for her. But although the Depression has changed the city she once loved, Ellie is determined to create a new life for herself. She plunges all her energy into creating a home and refuge for some of the cities many homeless people. In return, she receives more love and friendship than she ever thought possible, and begins to feel the first faint stirrings of hope and happiness once more. And then someone from the past appears, someone she thought she would never see again - and pieces of Ellie's past that she thought were long gone suddenly resurface, threatening her newfound hope for the future.

Ellie Hogan is a female character I refer to as the "teabag type" - she doesn't realize her own strength until she gets into hot water. I love stories about women who reach into their deepest selves and find their true mettle, and City of Hope is just such a story. Author Kate Kerrigan has created a admirable, inspiring character in her Ellie Hogan, a woman ahead of her time in terms of ambition and ideas - added to that is her beautiful rendering of the historical period and a likable cast of characters.

City of Hope was a fabulous addition to my historical novel library, and I'm eager to read Kerrigan's first novel Ellis Island. Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this novel.

TLC Book Tours: The Virgin Cure

The Virgin CureBeing a huge fan of historical novels, I was eager to read The Virgin Cure, by Ami McKay, a new-to-me Canadian author whose first novel (The Birth House) was a number one best seller in that country. I'm not surprised, because McKay's writing and story telling skills are epic. The Virgin Cure is set in Lower Manhattan circa 1871. It's the story of Moth, a young girl growing up alone on some very mean streets filled with orphaned children and desperate women trying to eke out some kind of living. Moth's father is long gone, and her mother is a Gypsy fortune teller who sells her 12 year old daughter into servitude with a cruel, abusive society matron. Moth eventually escapes and spends some months on the streets before she is taken in by the charming Miss Everett, a Madam who runs something called an Infant School, which is really a brothel catering to gentlemen willing to pay a premium for desirable young virgins like Moth. In fact, some of them are seeking the fabled "Virgin Cure" - the belief that having intercourse with a virgin will cure them of syphilis. Moth's friendship with Dr. Sadie, a female physician who works among the indigent population, gives her the courage she needs to see a better life for herself.

Moth is a totally engaging character, and I longed to reach back in time and scoop her up for myself, bring her home with me and give her a good life. McKay creates such breathtaking word pictures that reading the novel is almost frightening at times, the reader feels so involved in the time and place.

And what a time and place! We talk a lot today about the poor situations children find themselves in - gangs and single parent families, hunger and lack of education. We tend to forget the history of maltreatment of children in this country. In an author's Ami McKaynote, McKay writes that over 30,000 children lived on the streets of New York city in 1870. Even more of them wandered in and out of tenements as their families struggled to find food and shelter. Most of these children were illiterate and would end up as thieves and prostitutes, dead before they ever reached adulthood. McKay's interest in this time period was sparked when she learned about her own great-great grandmother, the original Dr. Sadie, who worked the streets of New York along with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female physician, caring for the women and children of the city.

The Virgin Cure is a fascinating look at this time and place in our history. But it's also a story of perseverance and hope. Because Moth does find good people among the bad, people who care about her and are willing to help her, people who step up to make a difference, one child at a time.

Sometimes, for a moment, everything is just as you need it to be. The memories of such moments live in the heart, waiting for the time you need to think on them, if only to remind yourself that for a short while, everything had been fine, and might be so again. I didn't have many memories like that...No matter what might happen or what fate Miss Everett had in store for me, I now had the image of Miss Suzie Lowe to place alongside them. She would remind me that I was a girl who longed for things, a girl who wanted to become something more than she was seen to be.

If you enjoy historical novels, I highly recommend this book.

Connect with Ami McKay here:

WebsiteFacebook pageTwitter account,  Pinterest board.

TLC Book Tours: A Dual Inheritance

Dual_Inheritance_SMMy favorite novels explore the legacy of families across generations, and how a family history is played out from one generation to the next. Joanna Herson's new novel, A Dual Inheritance, does all this and more. Beginning in 1963, when two young men first become acquainted during their senior year at Harvard, and throughout the intervening decades until the present, their paths and lives cross in interesting and sometimes heartbreaking ways. The book centers on the somewhat surprising friendship between Ed, a Jewish kid on scholarship who is unapologetically ambitious and girl-crazy, and Hugh, a Boston Brahmin who seems ambivalent about everything except Helen, his first and only love. Their friendship burns brightly and intensely, until one night when something happens which causes it to end just as abruptly. The two men diverge into different paths, but remain connected through and current of relationships unbeknowst to them.

Hershon's engaging story deftly examines the contrasting worlds of a rich Boston WASP, and a scrabbling Jewish boy eager to make a name for himself. Her characters are complex and interesting, and provide some rich insight into human relationships and class differences.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this very engrossing novel.

Buy A Dual Inheritance from Amazon.