We're having the first Goodread giveaway for this upcoming release now through 1/25 (but don’t put it off or you’ll forget). I enjoyed digging into the research for this biographical novel, which explores the hidden relationship between Eisenhower and his Irish driver, Kay Summersby, during WW2. I learned that when the war ended, Ike was fully prepared to divorce Mamie and marry Kay but was persuaded by both duty and ambition to take the path that led him to the White House. I also dug into Kay’s postwar life as an American citizen, following her trail in the letters she exchanged with Ike (held at the Eisenhower Library) and in the newspapers. The print edition of the novel contains the notes that document my findings; if you read the ebook, you’ll find the documentation on the book's website.
Book report. I finished Queen Anne’s Lace (China’s 26th adventure!) last week. This book is structured like Wormwood and Widow’s Tears, with a backstory set in the 1880s in Pecan Springs. The signature herb is Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), aka wild carrot, which (until the mid-19th century) was chiefly used as a contraceptive. When I started researching the subject, I found many herbs that were used in this way and found myself very grateful to a couple of academic researchers. Here are two of the most important, if this subject interests you: Eve’s Herbs and Sex and Herbs and Birth Control. You’ll have to wait for Queen Anne’s Lace, though. It’s in the production queue at Berkley Prime Crime, scheduled for April, 2018. In the meantime, contain your soul in patience (as a librarian said to me once). The Last Chance Olive Ranch will be released in just a few months.
I’m back at work on the Gertrude Bell project, which is beginning to feel like a trilogy, rather than a single novel. There’s a lot to this story, and to tell it well, I think I have to tell it longer. I’ve always been interested in WW1, but like everyone else, I mostly focused on the war in Europe. I have a lot to learn about the war in the Middle East, with its complicated webs of political intrigue.
On another topic . . .
If the soil dries out enough to dig the trenches, I’ll be planting seed potatoes this weekend. These are Red La Sodas, I think, They’ve gone through a couple of planting cycles and I’ve lost track. I try to save enough from the spring planting to seed the fall, and so on, on the theory that homegrown seed is better acclimated to the garden’s normal seasons—although like most of us, I’m no longer sure what “normal” is. Except hot and hotter.
Reading note. It may be normal, darling; but I'd rather be natural.--Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's