Thanks to Ann and her publisher, Sourcebooks, we have a copy of EXPECTING to give away to one lucky reader at the end of this post (details below). Thank you, Ann, for joining us at Great New Books and sharing one of your favorite reads with us today!
Author Ann Lewis Hamilton, on one of her recent favorite books:
The Ghost of Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin
I have a terrible confession. I am a great book cheater. Sometimes I flip to the end to see what will happen – will my favorite character be killed? Will the lovers be reunited? So for me, I know a book is special when I don’t cheat, when I become so caught up in the world and the characters and the journey that I never want the book to end.
The Ghost of the Mary Celeste is a novel based on a real mystery. In 1872, a merchant ship, the Mary Celeste, was found abandoned off the coast of Portugal. A lifeboat was missing, but there was no sign of the crew or passengers. No one was ever sure what happened. Was there a mutiny? Was the ship attacked by pirates? Arthur Conan Doyle wrote an anonymous account of the mystery in 1884, presented as fact, but heavily fictionalized.
Valerie Martin has taken the legend of the Mary Celeste and written a novel that weaves together several stories. She follows the captain of the Mary Celeste and his family. We meet Arthur Conan Doyle on board another ship traveling to Africa in 1881. There are also Violet Petra, a spiritualist, and Phoebe Grant, a journalist who is doubtful of Violet’s abilities. How Valerie Martin is able to bring these stories together in such a compelling fashion may be the biggest mystery of all. I don’t want to go into more detail because I would hate to spoil the surprises for the reader.
Her prose makes me swoon – I found myself reading a sentence again and again, just to savor it. Even though I spent a lot of time re-reading, I still finished the book quickly because I couldn’t put it down. What a pleasure to learn about the spiritualist movement in the 19th century, as well as life at sea, and pre-Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle, all written in dreamy, luscious language. Even as I write this I’m tempted to pick up the book again. And with The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, I did not cheat. No flipping to the end, not this time.
To enter the drawing to win the copy of Ann’s novel, EXPECTING, fill out the form and click Submit below. Entries are open from Wednesday, July 9 until Friday, July 11 at midnight Eastern time.
The GreatNewBooks team will email the winner and announce it here on Monday, July 14. (Entries for the Continental US only, please.) As always, thanks for helping us to spread the word about great books and thank you for joining us!
Have you read Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton or The Ghost of Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin? We’d love to hear what you think — please share in the comments below. Thanks!