Tag Archives: dual timelines

Author, Author! — Linda Thompson

3 Dec

I was introduced to Linda Thompson‘s writing last year when I read The Plum Blooms in Winter. Wow, was I blown away by this excellent WWII-era novel that has two protagonists — a US airman and a Japanese young woman. Set in China and Japan during and after the war, the novel was moving and insightful. It is definitely a must-read. Linda’s sequel The Mulberry Leaf Whispers releases this month, and I cannot wait to read it! Linda joins us today to take us on her writing journey. Thanks, Linda!

By The Book — Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

Linda — I have always been a reader, and as a marketing professional in technology, I wrote a great deal — of technical literature. But my fiction writing journey has been a bit backwards as compared with many other authors I know. I didn’t decide to write, then go looking for the story. The story found me and begged me to write it! 

My husband, an avid military history buff, handed me a history book one day. He had it open to the true story that ultimately inspired my debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter. 

There needs to be a book about that. I knew that instantly. But there was a lot of time and prayer involved before I concluded the Lord was calling me to write that book. And honestly, I had no idea what would be involved! If I’d known, I’m not sure I would have ventured it.

BTB — Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

Linda — My parents taught me to love reading, and to appreciate the magic and the beauty in the right words. My husband is a big reader and has been a wonderful supporter of my author journey. My kids are proud of me and have cheerfully put up with a certain degree of healthy neglect! But I’m sure I would have foundered if I hadn’t found a wonderful online fiction writing course, which led me to an awesome coach / mentor and a strong critique group. Writers really need each other! 

BTB — Why did you choose the historical fiction genre?

Linda — Easy enough — it’s what I’ve loved to read as long as I can remember. I’ve always relished a book that picked me up and carried me off to a world I couldn’t visit on my own. So my reading has always leaned toward either historical novels or fantasy. And when I started writing, I was more confident that I could research a compelling world than that I could invent one, so . . . historical won out over fantasy.

BTB — Were there any obstacles you faced in your journey to publication?

Linda — I have the same story every published author does of stacks of rejections. You have to put your thick skin on for this journey. What pulled me through was believing that the Lord had called me on this path, and that the story He’d given me was worth telling. No matter how many rewrites it took to tell it well!

My biggest challenge right now is that I’m not a fast writer. I tend to really auger into the research because I want to get the details right, and I want to look at the issues from multiple perspectives to examine some of the real-world complexities of the history. I spent seven years writing my first novel, and three years writing my second. The expectation that authors will bring out a new novel each year, while simultaneously serving as their own marketing departments, graphic artists, and website admins has just about pulled me under!

BTB — What types of research do you pursue? Books, on-site visits, etc.

Linda — Yes, lots of books. I often find myself ordering used books that are out of print, because the topics I need to explore can be pretty far off the beaten path! I have done some site visits and interviews as well. Those were very impactful.

I sure wish a research trip to Japan fit in my budget! I spent some time there in my corporate life but I haven’t visited the specific regions I write about. I would love to visit Kyushu, the island where a big portion of The Mulberry Leaf Whispers is set. It looks fascinating!

I’m sure Google is every historical author’s bread and butter today. You can find an incredible wealth of resources if you’re a determined “Google-ista.” For Mulberry, one of the most rewarding research experiences I had was when I worked on a scene set in 1948 Havana. With Google maps, you can virtually walk the streets of a place. And since, sadly, Havana hasn’t changed much since Castro, I was really able to use Google maps to put myself in the scene! Another place I’d love to visit! Now there’s an occupational hazard. 😊 

 BTB — What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

Linda — I’ve always been an early riser, but my precise schedule varies based on the season. I’m a devoted afficionado of dawn and dusk, so I usually take some time for Bible study and prayer during the hour before sunrise. This time of year, I’m typically at my desk well before 5:30 a.m., with a break at dawn. 

I am a firm believer in the power of a nap!

My author-ing days are pretty long. Honestly, I worked hard in the corporate world, but I find I working even harder as an underpaid author!

BTB — How long does it usually take to craft your books? (from outlines/first drafts to final edits)

Linda — LOL. I haven’t arrived at a “usually” yet. At least I hope not — I hope three years isn’t going to be “my usual.”

BTB — Can you tell us a little about what inspired your latest novel.

Linda — There is a key character in The Plum Blooms in Winter who goes dark for a number of years. So his “lost years” were crying to be explored, weren’t they? Also, I confess I was itching to try a “time slip” novel. The challenge of writing two stories, each compelling in their own right, that ultimately knit together in a way that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts was something I felt eager to try my hand at. 

I’ve learned to expect God to show up when I’m writing. When I started The Mulberry Leaf Whispers, I didn’t know what would weave the two stories together. Three hundred years is a huge abyss of time to bridge! But just at the point where I was starting to despair as to whether my story concept would work, the Lord gave me the answer. That is the amazing aspect of writing for Him!

BTB — What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels?

You may have noticed that I don’t write about light topics! Although I hope my books are entertaining, entertainment is not my ultimate goal. My goal is to portray a BIG God, at work in a BIG way, seeking and saving and redeeming even through the darkest circumstances imaginable. I want my readers to come away heartened that no matter how dark the times, evil doesn’t win.

BTB — Readers always want to know what is next for an author. Do you have any works in progress you can share about?

At this point, I’m not sure. My first two novels were set in the 1940s in Asia. I love the time period and I’m contemplating a new series set in the 1940s in Israel. But now that I have an understanding of how big an investment a novel is, I’m really waiting on the Lord to speak to me. The author’s life is definitely not a retirement!

 

Thanks, Linda, for sharing with my readers!

 

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves — stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis contest winner and a finalist for FOUR 2019 awards: a Carol Award, the Independent Book Award in two categories, and a Cascade Award. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading — yes, that does make her a throwback — taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from tours of Israel, Jordan, and Wales.

 

The Plum Blooms in Winter

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge

In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission

Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal.

In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness. Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him — even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends — only to confront a decision that will change everything.

 

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers

1587. Bartered off in a peace agreement to the ancient enemies of her illustrious house, is Sono a war prize, a hostage, or a bride? One hope sustains her. If she can provide an heir to the dashing husband she just met, she’ll ensure decades of peace for the beloved family she was forced to leave behind. But when a dark secret threatens her desperate bid to purchase their security, she must rise to a battle she never dreamed she’d fight.

1942. Akira Matsuura’s naval vessel explodes under enemy fire. Everything he has lived for disappears in flames with it. His command, his crew, his future — all lost. Worse, his honor is eternally decimated. A prisoner’s life is of value to no one. Least of all to himself. But a stunning twist reveals his family’s secret shame. Can a long-buried truth provide the vital spark that reignites his will to live?

Thrill to two poignant journeys of courage, duty, and sacrifice, deftly woven through the centuries to inspire with dynamic faith that conquers despair.

 

 

Happy Release Day! — The Mulberry Leaf Whispers

1 Dec

After reading The Plum Blooms in Winter, Linda Thompson‘s excellent debut novel, I knew I had to read the second book of the series, The Mulberry Leaf Whispers. These WWII-era novels are different from those you may be used to. Told from the perspective of a Japanese character, they give a Western reader a fresh insight into the war and the culture of the time. The Mulberry Leaf Whispers is available today! I cannot wait to start reading. Find out all about it below.

1587. Bartered off in a peace agreement to the ancient enemies of her illustrious house, is Sono a war prize, a hostage, or a bride? One hope sustains her. If she can provide an heir to the dashing husband she just met, she’ll ensure decades of peace for the beloved family she was forced to leave behind. But when a dark secret threatens her desperate bid to purchase their security, she must rise to a battle she never dreamed she’d fight.

1942. Akira Matsuura’s naval vessel explodes under enemy fire. Everything he has lived for disappears in flames with it. His command, his crew, his future — all lost. Worse, his honor is eternally decimated. A prisoner’s life is of value to no one. Least of all to himself. But a stunning twist reveals his family’s secret shame. Can a long-buried truth provide the vital spark that reignites his will to live?

Thrill to two poignant journeys of courage, duty, and sacrifice, deftly woven through the centuries to inspire with dynamic faith that conquers despair.

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves — stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis contest winner and a finalist for FOUR 2019 awards: a Carol Award, the Independent Book Award in two categories, and a Cascade Award. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading — yes, that does make her a throwback — taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from tours of Israel, Jordan, and Wales.

 

2020 ACFW Carol Award Winners!

27 Sep

The 2020 Carol Award winners were announced over a week ago, but it is never too late to talk about great books! If you haven’t already read any of these award-winning books, be sure to check them out. I know there is one to fit any one’s reading tastes. BTW — congrats to all the winners!

 

2020 Carol Award Winners

 

Contemporary

The Death of Mungo Blackwell by Lauren H. Brandenburg

 

Historical

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson

 

Historical Romance

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The Gryphon Heist by James R. Hannibal

 

Novella

The Groom She Thought She’d Left Behind from The Runaway Brides Collection by Darlene Panzera

 

Romance

Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon

 

Romantic Suspense

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

 

Short Novel

A Rancher to Trust by Laurel Blount

 

Speculative

Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig

 

Young Adult

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

 

Debut

Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens

 

Book Review: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

23 Sep

1928
The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day
The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

 

Jaime Jo Wright loves to read — and write — fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance from her home in Wisconsin. She’s a coffee drinker by day and night, lives in dreamland, and exists in reality.

 

My Impressions:

Sometimes writing a review is effortless — you easily check off the boxes of plot, setting, characterization, theme, etc. But other times a book is one that defies simple description. The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright is one of those. This dual timeline novel is complex and multilayered and deserves a slow and thoughtful reading to glean all of its goodness. It took me a while to read this book — it is definitely not a quick and easy read. But it is one that is highly recommended!

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus has two storylines: one set in the present day, and the other in the late 1920s, both in Bluff River, Wisconsin. The mysteries of both time periods are intertwined and call out to be uncovered. Main characters Pippa and Chandler appear to have little in common, until the reader gets into their heads. Insecurity, doubts, and the tendency to run away from hard things plague both characters, yet their desire to discover what is true in their worlds urges them on. Setting plays a large part in the novel, and Wright creates a town and its circus that capture the imagination. The mystery builds slowly, gaining momentum as the book heads toward its ending — I could not keep the pages turning fast enough as more and more is revealed. The ghostly aspect created some delicious little shivers. And the twists? Let’s just say I was surprised numerous times. Wright also kept me engaged in both stories, leaving me eager to visit both periods as the narrative shifted. There are a number of themes and spiritual truths expressed in Haunting. All speak to the reader’s heart. I have followed Wright on social media for a while now, and I appreciate how much she poured her own story into this book’s pages. Many things are disclosed at the end of the book, but the rest of Pippa and Chandler’s stories are left up to the reader’s imagination. I chose to create very happily-ever-afters for both. 😉

I have read all of Wright’s novels, and I think The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is my favorite. A great book for discussion, I urge you to gather some book-loving friends to read this one. I promise you will have a long, meaningful, and fun conversation.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

First Line Friday — The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

4 Sep

Happy Friday! Today is the start of a long weekend, which means more time to read. Yay! I am headed to my mountain cabin and bringing along The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright. Here is the first line:

Life was not unlike the wisp of fog that curled around the base of a grave marker, softly caressing the marble before dissolving into the violet  shadow of the night.

1928

The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman”, she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day

The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

To purchase, click HERE.

Jaime Jo Wright loves to read — and write — fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance from her home in Wisconsin. She’s a coffee drinker by day and night, lives in dreamland, and exists in reality.

For more fabulous first lines, visit Hoarding Books!

Happy Release Day — The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

1 Sep

A very happy release day to Jaime Jo Wright! Her latest dual timeline novel, The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus, is now available! I am so excited to dig into this intriguing book. Get all the details below

1928

The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman”, she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day

The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

To purchase, click HERE.

Jaime Jo Wright loves to read — and write — fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance from her home in Wisconsin. She’s a coffee drinker by day and night, lives in dreamland, and exists in reality.

If You Liked . . . The Woman in The Green Dress

31 Aug

My book club had very mixed reactions to the dual timeline historical novel The Woman in The Green Dress by Tea Cooper. We really liked the new-to-us setting of Australia and the interesting topic of taxidermy. But we had difficulty with the disjointed narrative and what we felt were undeveloped story threads. The creep-factor (which we enjoy) we felt was overridden by a weird-vibe. So overall, it was a miss for my members. But, if you were a fan of the book, I have some recommendations you may enjoy that employ some of the same elements. Hope you find another book to love.

Exotic Locale

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

It’s 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she’s graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father’s footsteps by getting her master’s degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father’s legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.

India isn’t what she expects, though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India — and of Owen — fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.

In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices — between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she’s always thought she wanted and the man she’s come to love.

 

Curiosities and Mysteries

Lady of A Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry — the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust — who in her life is false or true, brass or gold — and what is meant to be treasured.

 

Interwoven Dual-Time Lines

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia — compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

 

 

Book Review: The Woman in The Green Dress

6 Aug

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Website: http://www.teacooperauthor.com
Blog: http://www.teacooperauthor.com/blog.html
Twitter: @TeaCooper1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/LtrSn

 

My Impressions:

I chose The Woman in The Green Dress as my book club’s surprise selection for a number of reasons. We read a lot of contemporary suspense because my group likes a puzzling mystery, but we rarely read historical fiction because of the first statement. 😉 So I decided to find a book that would combine history with mystery plus had something a bit different. Hence Tea Cooper’s Australian-set, dual timeline, history/mystery. I usually have a good idea going into our discussions how my group will like a book — we have been meeting for years and years. But I am unsure what their reaction will be to this complex and sometimes weird book. It has a great gothic vibe going on, the characters are well-drawn, the setting cannot be better, and the two plots are tangled in creative ways.

Australia is a place I would love to visit, but probably won’t because of the distance and expense. The Woman in The Green Dress brings the reader to a past Australia with its natural beauty, yet ugly social structure. I found a lot of parallels with the policies and prejudices of the US during the same time periods. Cooper’s detailed descriptions helped me envision the flora and fauna and the plight of the Darkinjung people. Main characters Della and Stefan from 1853 and Fleur from 1919 are complexly written, but I have to say that Bert, a supporting character that spans both story lines is perfect in his portrayal. The story revolves around the death of Fleur’s husband in WWI and a missing opal in 1853, but there really is so much more to the book. I found the mysteries interesting, but the characters were what kept me reading.

I listened to the audiobook of The Woman in The Green Dress. The narrator does a wonderful job of making the setting and characters come to life. The novel is published by Thomas Nelson, however, there is some language that traditional readers of Christian fiction may find offensive. I didn’t like it, but it didn’t make me stop reading either. Overall, I would recommend this novel, but perhaps not to every reader.

Recommended with some caveats. (Language)

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the paperback and audiobook from Amazon/Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

August Book Club Selection — The Woman in The Green Dress

3 Aug

This month’s book club selection is The Woman in The Green Dress by Australian author Tea Cooper. This novel full of mystery and history has a dual timeline — 1853 and 1919 — and is set almost entirely in Australia. I have already read the book (I listened to the excellent audiobook edition) and will be reviewing it soon. Although I usually can judge these things, I am really not sure how my group will like this book. All I will say right now, is that it has a lot of interesting elements.

Have you read it? We would love to know your thoughts.

 

 

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

This romantic mystery from award-winning Australian novelist Tea Cooper will keep readers guessing until the astonishing conclusion.

 

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Website: http://www.teacooperauthor.com
Blog: http://www.teacooperauthor.com/blog.html
Twitter: @TeaCooper1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/LtrSn

 

Audiobook Review: A Bridge Across The Ocean

23 Jul

Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women — past and present — in this emotional novel from the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War.
 
February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.
 
Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark . . . 
 
Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides — and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

 

Susan Meissner is the USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her novels include The Last Year of the War, a Library Reads and Real Simple top pick; As Bright as Heaven, which received a starred review from Library Journal; Secrets of a Charmed Life, a 2015 Goodreads Choice award finalist; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014. She is also RITA finalist and Christy Award and Carol Award winner. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.
Visit Susan at her website: http://susanmeissner.com and on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.

 

My Impressions:

Susan Meissner is one of my must-read authors. Her books are skillfully crafted with complex characters and plots that speak to the heart. Unfortunately, I am woefully behind on reading her books. Determined to do better, I chose A Bridge Across The Ocean to accompany me on my morning walks. I should have known better. Instead of turning off the audiobook to continue my day, it remained on as I looked for chores that would allow me to keep listening. 😉 This novel, which has a dual timeline, would not let me go. If you are looking for an unputdownable read, then this one is for you!

The HMS Queen Mary is the link to the three stories that are presented in A Bridge Across The Ocean. Modern-day Brette sees ghosts or drifters as she calls them. She sees this as more of a curse than a gift and has endeavored to ignore the sight for much of her life. While doing a favor for a friend she is introduced to the tragic story of Anneliese Lange and is determined to discover the truth of the fateful war brides crossing. The reader is introduced to Anneliese, a German, and Simone, a Frenchwoman, long before Brette knows their names. Their stories run parallel during the days of WWII. I was drawn to each woman’s story. Heartbreaking and heroic both describe their experiences. There are also some ghosts we meet along the way. The first person voice of one in particular provided moving insight into the life of the Queen Mary cruise ship. While Meissner has written for the Christian fiction market in the past, A Bridge Across The Ocean is general market fiction. But the reader can definitely find a Christian worldview if she/he looks for it. The spirits Brette encounters are great metaphors for all the lost people we meet along the way — those looking for purpose or direction. Her gift of seeing and communicating with them sheds light on all the giftedness we possess and the ways we choose to utilize or ignore it. If you don’t mind the inclusion of ghosts, you will find a riveting story of grace. Specific to the audiobook: the narrator did an excellent job of portraying the many accents — French, American, Belgian, and German — of the characters.

A Bridge Across The Ocean is now my favorite book by Meissner. Really a hard feat since all her books are excellent. It gets the rare very highly recommended rating from me.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)