The first word that comes to mind to describe this novel is “fun.” I enjoyed it immensely. I don’t usually read ghost stories, so I was surprised how much I liked this one. The premise in intriguing: it combines the modern story of a retired woman, grieving the lost of her mother, with a century-old murder story. The two stories intersect because Cora, the modern protagonist, encounters strange happenings wrought by a vengeful ghost.
The book is structured like a sandwich, a beginning modern section, a central historical section, and an ending modern section. Cora makes a discovery near the end of the first section that leads naturally into the historical part of the story. One of the things I liked best about the novel was Cora herself. I immediately warmed to her. I thought her relationships were believable. Her marriage to Cisco and her friendship with Frannie felt real and lived-in. The writing also has an easy flow to it. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this story to anyone who likes mysteries, paranormal stories, or historical fiction.
Four women, with little in common except their ties to a Catholic women’s college in Chicago, are called together by Sister Mark, the nun they all adore. Diane is a successful journalist tentatively recovering from an event that shattered her life. June is a skilled carpenter, uncertain how to be feminine enough to find the love she craves. Pat is the earth mother, an optimistic artist and craftswoman who raised seven children on her own after her husband left her. Ruth is a powerhouse CEO, who tells herself that she needs no one, not even the man she once loved and thinks of still.
Why has Sister Mark brought these former classmates together? Their alma mater, Shorelake College (a fictional version of Mundelein College) has closed and been taken over by nearby Rockbridge University (a fictional version of Loyola). Sister Mark has asked the women to make plans and raise funds to convert the mansion that was the emotional heart of the campus into a woman’s center.
As they struggle to carry out this vaguely defined mission, the four women embark on a journey of discovery—unearthing their own inner truths and finding joy in unlooked-for friendships. Fitzpatrick portrays the complicated nature of women’s relationships with each other with nuance and insight. And in contrast to many women’s novels, this one gives the male characters their due, portraying them as real and complex people rather than stereotypes to promote the author’s agenda. The vividness of the setting will delight anyone who knows the Windy City, and many readers will relish the clever turns of phrase that sprinkle the narrative. All these details add up to an enjoyable debut novel.
The Secret of Jeanne Baret is a young adult historical novel that tells the fascinating story of a French girl who embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure: disguising herself as a boy to take part in a scientific expedition and, hopefully, to become the first female to circumnavigate the globe. The story is well researched. Jeanne (disguised as Jean) travels to many exotic locations, meets people from a fascinating variety of cultures, and as she assists her master with his work, learns that she has a real flair for botany. I think this book could be a wonderful way to show girls how exciting science can be.
I had one minor issue with the story. At the beginning, Jeanne is very happy and thinks that she has achieved exactly what she wanted, so the early chapters didn’t have quite as much tension as I expected. Later, several complications arise: she makes an enemy among the crew, she narrowly escapes having her true identity revealed, and she even starts to fall in love with someone who has no idea she’s a girl. These plot twists help the story really move along. So I’d advise readers not to be fooled by Jeanne’s apparently perfect situation in the beginning. Keep reading. Once the action gets going, it doesn’t let up.
My blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours is winding down, and I have two more reviews to post. There should be one more to come, but the blogger was delayed by illness, so I’m not sure when it will post. Given my own recent history, I certainly how important it is to get one’s strength back!
You can read a review at Let Them Read Books here.
You can read a review at The True Book Addict here.
Many thanks to Amy Bruno for her hard work organizing this tour.
Today, the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour is offering up two reviews of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, plus an interview and giveaway.
The reviews can be found at:
Ageless Pages Reviews
Historical Fiction Obsession
The interview and giveaway can be found at:
Let Them Read Books
Only one more day to go on this latest whirlwind tour!
Lots going on today in the Blog-o-Sphere.
First up, I have an interview up at Reading Lives. The blogger, Mel U, asks wide-ranging, extremely thought provoking questions that were a lot of fun to answer. Check it out!
Second, there is a review and giveaway going on over at Peeking Between the Pages. If you don’t have your copy of The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, here’s your chance to win one!
And don’t forget. From now till Easter I’m donating a quarter of my proceeds from any Amazon paperback sales to the Cancer Wellness Center in Northbrook, Illinois.
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is on another blog tour, and there are two reviews on offer today.
The first is at Unabridged Chick. You can read it here.
The second is at A Bookish Affair, and you can read it here.
Plus, there is an interview with me at Flashlight Commentary here.
What a great way to start a new month! (And no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.)