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Chapter 9 - Savannah - Part 2

This week I am going to share a little more about the Savannah Book Festival, the authors I saw and the books I read in preparation for it. Mark your calendars, the 2019 Savannah Book Festival is scheduled for February 14 - 17, 2019. The list of authors will be released in December.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin - The premise of the story fascinated me at the beginning. Four children are told their death dates by a Roma woman. The book takes the reader through each of the children's subsequent lives. Were their life choices made because of that information or in spite of the revelations? How do fate, chance and expectations shape our future?

This is Chloe Benjamin's second book and it has received a lot of great reviews. In writing the book, Benjamin said she felt a great responsibility to each of the children in the book and did an enormous amount of research for each phase of the book. The book comes out of her own neuroses as she has always thought about the power and effect of knowledge.

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper - I read this book while in Savannah. It is about May, immortalized as Amy in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Apparently May did all the illustrations in the first publication of Little Women and, while the book was well received, the illustrations were panned. May then took off for Europe in search of an instructor who could help her become a better artist. This is a perfect book to read to celebrate the 150th year publication of Little Women.

Originally Hooper, a New Englander by birth, thought she would write a novelized account of Louisa May Alcott's life. As she did her research, she realized that Louisa while interesting, was not nearly as intriguing a character as her sister May who was an artist of some renown in the 1870's. It was very difficult for women to receive training in art especially in the taboo areas of anatomy. May persevered and became one of many women artists who made their impression in that time period.

The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang - I read this book in about 5 hours. The story centers around Mary Willis, a young abolitionist in Town Line, a place of bounty hunters and Southern sympathizers in upstate New York. Finding an injured slave in her barn she starts a chain of events which impact her and her loved ones more than she ever could have imagined. Town Line actually existed as a Confederate hold out until 1946. You can read that story here - The Confederate Town In New York That Held Out Until 1946.

In listening to Daren Wang speaking about his first novel, it was fascinating to hear that he actually grew up in the house belonging to Mary Willis and her family. While everyone in western New York state seems to have an Underground Railroad story, the presence of a six foot tunnel in the basement of the Willis farmhouse might give credence to the rumor that the house was a stop on the way to Canada.

There are book festivals found all over the United States so I encourage you to find one close to you and take advantage of seeing and hearing the authors you love. Visit an independent book seller while you are there!

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