About the Book
Her aunt’s invitation to Richmond is just the change Beatrice Swanson needs after her brother’s release from a Union prison. Bea’s father agrees to the trip with a condition—one that tosses her emotions into swirling confusion.
Though Jay Nickson wants to serve his country as a Confederate soldier, his work is too important to the government. Bea’s interest in his job, which includes secrets that would benefit the Union, arouses his suspicions. Is she spying for the North? His growing feelings for her are hard to squelch.
Though she participates in activities to benefit Confederate soldiers, Bea struggles with her own loyalties and her father’s demands. Where does her cousin, Meg, go on her solitary errands? Bea’s own growing love for Jay, a Southerner, only adds to her confusion. Tensions escalate in Richmond as the Union army approaches, drawing her into more secrecy. Where does her allegiance lie? And how will she be forced to prove it?
Nothing in war is simple…especially when the heart becomes entangled.
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Boulevard of Confusion is the first book I’ve read by Sandra Merville Hart, and I’m not sure I want to read another one, though I admit I may pick up the third book because the character that book is about is probably the character I’m most intrigued by in this book.
The book takes place in Richmond during the middle of the Civil War, with a Northerner (Bea) and a Southerner (Jay) as its main characters. Both Bea and Jay are staunchly against slavery, but Jay is firmly of the belief that the Confederacy is in the right to secede. Bea has a more confused take as her brother owns a planation in North Carolina and her sister and brother-in-law are staunchly pro-Union, and she struggles with this. Repeatedly. Throughout the entire book. It
Ms. Merville Hart definitely completed a ton of research and the historical details and figures are nicely integrated into the story. As a historian in my heart (though I focused on Medieval history), I appreciated the effort and time the author took to get the historical aspects authentically drawn and her characters did not feel like they were transplanted from the 21st century.
Boulevard of Confusion is the second in a series. I believe this book does not stand alone, though there does appear to be an ‘info dump’ of sorts on the first few pages as the two main characters discuss the plot of the previous book.
This book was fine. The main characters had a lot of depth, though the repetitiveness of their inner thoughts became tiresome quickly. I also admit I just didn’t connect with the main characters.
Scenery descriptions are fine and the side characters appear to have full lives and are not just written to hang around the main characters. I also struggled with the sentence structure as it felt choppy and disjointed, but that is a personal preference.
I give this book 3/5 stars for its themes regarding family and unity, and that the characters all felt like real people. However, the repetitiveness of the inner thoughts of these main characters and the fact that it seemed like side character’s stories were more interesting makes it difficult for me to recommend this book.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
More from the Author
In Boulevard of Confusion, Book 2 of my “Spies of the Civil War” series, two people in love—one supporting the North, one supporting the South—struggle to rise above their differing loyalties.
In my book, the hero is a Virginian who supports the South. Though Jay hates slavery, he cannot turn against his state. His job at Tredegar Ironworks supplies the Confederate army with artillery. They develop new weapons and technology, such as submarines, that must be kept secret even from Richmond residents.
Our heroine is from the North. Bea has Southern ties and her brother, a Confederate officer, was recently released from a prison camp. Bea’s understanding of both sides of the conflict tosses her into confusion, especially in light of her growing feelings for Jay.
Part of my research for this novel involved a trip to Richmond museums. One display in particular at the American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar made me want to do a little dance. (If you followed me around on my museum visits, you’d witness my enthusiasm for historical people and events and how they impact my stories. Perhaps you share my love of history. 😊)
Anyway, this particular display was a painting of Julia Ann Mitchell, who lived in Richmond at the start of the Civil War. She was from a well-to-do family that traveled often. On one of these trips, she met and fell in love with Frederick Coggill, a New York City resident. Though they loved one another, the couple was divided in their loyalties.
Sadly, Julia’s brother, who fought for the Confederacy, was killed in battle. This probably added to the conflict between Julia and Frederick.
I’m happy to say that the couple seemed to enjoy a happy ending, for they were married in 1863.
I didn’t yet know my characters when I read this display, for the stories ferment in my imagination as research reveals the history. I tucked it away in my mind and it later inspired me.
Boulevard of Confusion isn’t Julia’s and Frederick’s love story. Not at all. It’s simply that history’s record of them overcoming their differing loyalties to marry proves that it happened. That’s all I needed to know.
Avenue of Betrayal, Book 1, is set in the Union capital of Washington City (Washington DC) in 1861, where a surprising number of Confederate sympathizers and spies lived. Boulevard of Confusion is set in Richmond, the Confederate capital in 1862. Actual historical spies touch the lives of our fictional family.
Through both real and fictional characters, this series highlights activities spies were involved in and some of the motives behind their decisions.
I invite you to read both Avenue of Betrayal and Boulevard of Confusion. And please watch for Book 3, Byway to Danger, which will soon follow!
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 10
Texas Book-aholic, May 11
Inklings and notions, May 12
Betti Mace, May 13
Books, Books, and More Books, May 13
For Him and My Family, May 14
deb’s Book Review, May 15
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 16
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 17
Connie’s History Classroom, May 18
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 19
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 20
Blososms and Blessings, May 21
Pause for Tales, May 22
Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 23 (Author Interview)
Of Blades and Thorns, May 23
To celebrate her tour, Sandra is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Click here to purchase your copy!
About the Book
It is the worst of times . . .
Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.
It is the story that has never been told.
In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.
I haven’t read Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities since high school, and so I did not remember the character of the seamstress. However, I love reading stories about the French Revolution, as it is an often overlooked time period in my reading experience, and Allison Pittman has written an excellent novel in The Seamstress.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Pittman, and I was immediately drawn in. She has created a setting and characters so vivid I could immediately see the setting and the characters in my head. The story begins when the main character, Renee, and her cousin, Laurette, are taken in by a neighbor, Gagnon, who lets them sleep in his barn and work on his farm.
Renee is a great character. She loves the farm and raising sheep, though a little too idealistic. It seems weird to say that someone who grew up in poverty and endured the struggles of that upbringing could be idealistic, but once she moved to Paris to work in the royal household, I found her often naïve and hopeful when she should have been more aware of the consequences of the unrest growing in pre-Revolutionary France.
Laurette is the other main character, and I related to her immensely. She was desperate for a place to belong and kept trying to fill it with people and things instead of God. The themes of redemption are strongest in her storyline and I found myself rooting for her as she navigated her way through a life of uncertainties and unwise choices.
The Seamstress is a book that will stick with you. I was rooting for all the characters and the portrayal of the King of France and Marie Antoinette is an interesting one, and one not often seen as they are considered the “villains” of the French Revolution.
I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to those wanting to read more about the French Revolution and those who enjoy nuanced takes on polarizing historical figures (in this case, Marie Antoinette). The book is well-written and the themes of redemption, what makes a family a family, and equality in the eyes of the government are given appropriate amounts of page space and conclude the story in a way that is satisfying.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Guest Post from Allison
My dream of being an author began by “finishing” other author’s works, fleshing out the stories of neglected characters. When I read the final books in the Little House series, I was far more interested in Cap Garland than I was in Almonzo Wilder, and I imagined all kinds of stories in which he was the hero.
This, The Seamstress, is one of those stories that came to me in a single burst of thought. I was teaching my sophomore English class, discussing through the final scenes in A Tale of Two Cities,when the little seamstress in those final pages reached out to me. She is a nameless character, seemingly more symbolic than anything. Dickens, however, gives her an entire backstory in a single phrase: I have a cousin who lives in the country. How will she ever know what became of me? I remember pausing right then and there in front of my students and saying, “Now, there’s the story I want to write.”
Now, years later, I have.
While every word of every Charles Dickens novel is a master class in writing, what he gave to me for The Seamstress is the kind of stuff that brings life and breath to fiction. I have to convey the fact that any character on my pages—no matter how much story space he or she is allotted—has a life between them. Every man was once a child; every woman a vulnerable young girl.
So, Dickens gave me the bones of the story. A seamstress. A cousin in the country. A country ripped apart; family torn from family. I did my very best to put flesh on those bones, but no writer can ever bring the life and breath. Only a reader can do that.
Fiction Aficionado, February 9
The Lit Addict, February 9
The Power of Words, February 9
Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis & Christ Collide, February 10
Lis Loves Reading, February 10
Maureen’s Musings, February 10
Carpe Diem, February 11
A Baker’s Perspective, February 11
All-of-a-kind Mom, February 12
Emily Yager, February 12
Mary Hake, February 12
Stories By Gina, February 13
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 13
The Christian Fiction Girl, February 13
Inspired by fiction, February 14
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14
Remembrancy, February 14
Through the Fire Blogs, February 15
Seasonsofopportunities, February 15
Inspiration Clothesline, February 15
Books, Books, and More Books, February 16
Inklings and Notions, February 16
Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16
Bibliophile Reviews, February 17
Texas Book-aholic, February 17
Margaret Kazmierczak, February 18
A Reader’s Brain, February 18
By The Book, February 18
Multifarious, February 19
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 19
Pause for Tales, February 19
Bigreadersite, February 20
Simple Harvest Reads, February 20
Janices book reviews, February 20
For the Love of Books, February 21
Book by Book, February 21
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 21
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 22
To Everything A Season, February 22
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 22
To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card, a hardcover copy of The Seamstress, and this copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0e/the-seamstress-celebration-tour-giveaway
About the Book
Queens of Georgian Britain offers a chance to step back in time and meet the women who ruled alongside the Georgian monarchs, not forgetting Sophia Dorothea of Celle, the passionate princess who never made it as far as the throne. From lonely childhoods to glittering palaces, via family feuds, smallpox, strapping soldiers and plenty of scheming, these are the queens who shaped an era.
Queens of Georgian Britain by Catherine Curzon is a book that history enthusiasts will love. Those who do not wholeheartedly embrace history should also enjoy this book, in part because of the writing style and the format of the book itself.
I’m a Medievalist at heart, but Georgian Britain is an era I enjoy studying, and it’s difficult to find books on this subject at bookstores in the US! As a result, I was thrilled when presented with the opportunity to read Queens of Georgian Britain.
I have never read any of her previous works and found Ms. Curzon’s writing engrossing even though it is more informal than most non-fiction books I’ve read. This is no boring history textbook! Instead, it’s an easy to read book that focuses on the four wives of King Georges II, III, and IV of Great Britain.
However, I do suggest that if you are not familiar with the historical figures present in the book, you have Wikipedia page available because the book covers over a century of history and some of the names are similar. It can be difficult to follow who belongs to which country and which child belongs to which set of parents, as the sections aren’t completely in chronological order.
The political machinations that take place in each queen’s life—some as a direct result of interference from more powerful family—is a fascinating insight into the schemes that shaped Great Britain and some of Europe over this time period. It’s amazing what people with power will do to keep it! Though I can’t empathize with a lot of it—as I am neither royalty or nobility and will definitely not have an arranged marriage—I can understand the feelings of hope, disappointment, and anger these women feel as their lives move in directions they didn’t always anticipate.
I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to those interested in learning more about Sophia Dorothea of Celle, Caroline of Ansbach, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Caroline of Brunswick, their Georges, and Georgian Britain.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Pen and Sword Publishing through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Catherine Curzon is better known as the titular author of the popular website devoted to the long eighteenth century, A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life. She is devoted to spreading accessible, irreverent tales of the glorious Georgian world and indulges herself by writing historical fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London. When not dodging the furies of the guillotine, Catherine holds a Master’s Degree in Film, specializing in representations of women in cinema. To find out more, visit www.madamegilflurt.com.
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran.