Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Edge of Light by Ann Shorey

Today I'm featuring new author Ann Shorey with her historical "The Edge of Light."

Here's the back cover copy and her bio:

She's determined to make it--and she doesn't need a man's help to do it. It is the summer of 1838 in St. Lawrenceville, Missouri, and Molly McGarvie's life is about to change forever. When her beloved Samuel succumbs to cholera, Molly is heartbroken but resolves to take care of herself and her children. When Samuel's unscrupulous brother takes over the family business and leaves Molly to fend for herself, she knows she must head out on her own. It is a dangerous journey, and along the way she must face the loss of another family member. Somehow she must find a way to make a living, restore her family, and fend off some overeager suitors. Book one in the At Home in Beldon Grove series, The Edge of Light will captivate you with the true-to-life emotions of one woman's struggle to survive.

Ann's mother always wanted to write a book about her ancestors. She felt there was enough material in her collection of family memoirs, which dated back to the 1600's, to make fascinating reading.

When Ann's mother died in 1994, she passed those memoirs on to Ann. Over the next several years Ann put stream-of-consciousness reminiscences into chronological order and followed up each "remembered fact" with necessary research.

Thanks to the computer age, she wrote the book her mother had envisioned and in the late 1990's distributed it to family and interested historians.

In the process of researching her family history, Ann discovered that all of the collected memoirs had been written by men. Memories of the American Revolution, the Mexican and Civil Wars, and the westward migration were all told from the male perspective. What was life like for the women who maintained the homes, reared the children, and followed their husbands from place to place? That question sparked her interest in writing fiction to fill in the gaps. Over the next several years Ann learned her craft by attending classes, reading books, and, yes, collecting a few rejections.

On a research trip to Kentucky in 1997, Ann and her husband, Richard, were fortunate enough to locate the graves of her great-great-great grandparents on the land they had settled in 1800. Standing in front of her great-times-three grandmother's resting place, Ann promised that grandmother she would not be forgotten.

The At Home in Beldon Grove series honors that promise. The first volume, titled The Edge of Light, is scheduled to be released in January, 2009. One of the best things Ann learned about fiction is that it's okay to make stuff up! Thus, although these novels are inspired by her courageous female ancestors, the largest percentage of their adventures are fictional. Ann leaves it to her readers to separate truth from "it could have happened like this."

And now for my review:

Ann Shorey has a good handle on historical research! Her first novel is chockfull of researched nuggets. Her description of bloodletting is especially realistic and made me a little glad I’d been spared this full understanding (and vivid description) previously. ;-)

Her heroine survives plenty of trials, triumphing with strength and determination, the death of her husband and disappearance of her son, not to mention losing a dear friend because of racial tension in 1830s Missouri. Molly McGarvie’s husband has died of cholera and she’s forced to move with her children, including the baby in her womb, to live with family in another state. The same man responsible for her son’s disappearance (i.e. he wasn’t watching over him well enough) is the doctor who must deliver Molly’s breech baby. With all the tension of unforgiveness and mourning losses, yet believing her son is still alive, Molly pushes onward. Her conflict with this doctor character is a fantastic backdrop for a potential relationship to spring up. And it does. Molly’s strong spirit is inspiring. But, some of the obstacles in Molly’s life seemed a bit over the top. And though craft books on writing teach this idea of “give your character a goal, put obstacles in the way, then when the character falls, kick them when they try to stand; repeat,” in this story, it felt a bit forced as we watched Molly’s struggles.

That said, I love that Ann was specifically inspired by her own research, and I love how well she used it. How exciting she’s fulfilling her family’s dream (passed down through the generations) of putting these stories into print and though some of the story elements are fabricated, the stories are now coming to light.

I believe readers who enjoy historical fiction and/or romantic fiction will enjoy this well-researched and well written story.

Bravo, Ann! I wish you the best!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Annette, for the wonderful review. I appreciate you!
    Ann Shorey