January 8, 2020
Dear Fellow Book Lovers,
Today is a great day. Kicking off the GUEST WRITER~AUTHOR EDITION is none other than the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Historical Fiction, KATE QUINN. Yes, you heard me correctly, Kate Quinn has written a letter to Mr. Hemingway. Of course, you already know that Kate Quinn is the author of The Alice Network (A Reese’s Book Club pic for July 2017) and most recently, The Huntress. Did you also know that she has written four books in the Empress of Rome series, two books in the Italian Renaissance series, and a host of other publications? With more books in the works, this author is on fire. I hope you enjoy her post today! I thank Kate from the bottom of my heart for participating in this project.
P.S. Rumor has it that Kate Quinn is a ROCKIN good singer! Check out all of Kate’s fabulousness over on her Website…
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
You never forget your first, do you? The book that hooks you forever.
I was ten. My librarian mother put a hefty tome into my hands: “Jubilee Trail,” by Gwen Bristow. “Historical fiction set in early California,” she said. Being a California girl, I was intrigued enough to curl up on the sofa and start reading. I fell through the pages into a new world: this was my first adult historical novel, the book that converted me into a passionate, lifelong lover of stories set in the past.
Everything in it spoke to me. I loved learning about pre-Gold Rush California’s three-tiered society, where proud Spanish rancheros existed side by side with Yankee traders and Mexican citizens, and US statehood was just a glimmer on the horizon. My guide to this new world is Bristow’s heroine Garnet, an adventurous New York society girl who dreams of more than dull, polite city life. She marries Oliver, a handsome trader who sweeps her on a headlong journey to California, and I loved the idea that a book could start with a marriage rather than ending with one—that a girl’s life didn’t end once she became a wife. I loved the best friend Garnet picks up along her journey: Florinda, a beautiful blunt-spoken showgirl fleeing murder charges and perhaps something even more sinister, stealing every scene she appears in. Their friendship is the rock that sustains Garnet when she reaches California and realizes the dreadful secrets her husband has been hiding from her, and I learned something I’d carry into adulthood: that female friendships are every bit as important as romantic relationships, and deserved to be showcased.
Moreover, a woman’s journey to independence is every bit as important as the simpler question of “Who does she fall in love with?” Garnet grows from an adventurous girl to steel-spined heroine as she battles through motherhood and widowhood, poverty and luxury, frontier shoot-outs, and deadly family feuds. It’s a journey that had my ten-year-old self cheering, and still does whenever I reread “Jubilee Trail.” Something about the combination of flawed and interesting women, meticulously researched history, and a writing style as clear as a pane of glass have stuck with me over the years. It wasn’t long after reading “Jubilee Trail” that I began writing my own books…and to this day, I think my own heroines have something of Bristow’s Garnet in them. Nina in “The Huntress” has her ferocity when backed into a corner, Eve in “The Alice Network” has her flinty endurance—and all my heroines have her capacity for friendship.
Talk to you again soon, Mr. H!
Your Biggest Fan,