This historical novel by Jennifer Chiaverini (Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker), tell the story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a young well to do lady of Richmond, Virginia during the turbulent Civil War. This historical figure risked her life as a Union sympathizer to pass information to Northern forces and offer aid and comfort to the wounded Union prisoners of war that lived in deplorable conditions. The author deftly tells her story and offers readers a fascinating portrait of this amazing woman. She was so well regarded by the North that when she died destitute in 1900, Massachusetts admirers arraigned for a boulder from the grounds of the Massachusetts State House to be shipped to Richmond to serve as her headstone.
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Susan is a serial adulterer whose life is shattered by her husband’s sudden death. As she struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with her grown, paraplegic daughter, she unexpectedly inherits a mansion from a distant relative, who had filled the magnificent house with stuffed and mounted animals from around the world. At first she is creeped out by them and then becomes their caretaker, as well as the part time involuntary caretaker of her former boss’ elderly mother, who suffers from dementia. The novel explores the many forms loss can take, a loved one’s death, when it is to late to make amends, her daughter’s loss of what could have been if not for her accident, the slow loss of personality in the elderly with dementia, and the loss of animals in the wild to extinction. A sometimes funny and touching novel that reminds us to live life to the fullest while not closing our eyes to the beauty and mystery of life!
Coming November 2012