Lena Kennedy was sixty-four before her first novel, MAGGIE, was accepted, and it was among the shackdwelling community of the woods that she began to realise her growing need to express her feelings through writing. THE LAST OF THE SHACKDWELLERS examines the inspirations for each of her novels, such as the bestsellers EVE`S APPLES and LILY, MY LOVELY. Lena also vividly describes the long search for a publisher, her joy at finding success and her road to fame.
'Absolutely fascinating' - 5-STAR reader review
Caroline Clarke was born in an era when adoptions were shameful, secret, and sealed. While she wondered about her biological parents, she kept her curiosity in check, until a series of small health problems raised concerns about her genetic heritage and its consequences for her two children's lives and her own.
Though Spence-Chapin Family Service, the agency that handled her adoption, could not reveal the name of her birth mother, it was able to provide details that lead to a shocking truth. Caroline's birth mother and her family were related to a friend. The woman who gave her life was none other than Carole "Cookie" Cole, the daughter of iconic crooner and pianist Nat King Cole.
Drawing on details provided by the agency and her own investigative skills, Caroline embarked on a life-changing journey of discovery that stretched from coast to coast, forged through e-mail, phone calls, and post cards. The constancy, volume, and intimacy of her steady correspondence with Cookie filled the days and distance between them. Through brief yet poignant messages squeezed onto three-inch open-faced squares, mother and daughter revealed themselves, sharing secrets, taking risks, and ultimately building a bond like no other.
A heartfelt, inspiring tribute to both Caroline's adoptive parents and her biological mother, Postcards from Cookie illuminates the enduring power of love to shape and guide our lives.
Flight Risk takes off as a page-turning narrative with deep roots and a wide wingspan. James Nolan, a fifth-generation New Orleans native, offers up an intimate portrait both of his insular hometown and his generation's counterculture. Flight runs as a theme throughout the book, which begins with Nolan's escape from the gothic mental hospital to which his parents committed the teenaged poet during the tumult of 1968. This breakout is followed by the self-styled revolutionary's hair-raising flight from a Guatemalan jail, and years later, by the author's bolt from China, where he ditched his teaching position and collectivist ideals. These Houdini-like feats foreshadow a more recent one, how he dodged biblical floods in a stolen school bus three days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
Nolan traces these flight patterns to those of his French ancestors who fled to New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century, established a tobacco business in the French Quarter, and kept the old country alive in their Creole demimonde. The writer describes the eccentric Seventh Ward menagerie of the extended family in which he grew up, his early flirtation with extremist politics, and a strong bond with his freewheeling grandfather, a gentleman from the Gilded Age. Nolan's quest for his own freedom takes him to the flower-powered, gender-bending San Francisco of the sixties and seventies, as well as to an expatriate life in Spain during the heady years of that nation's transition to democracy. Like the prodigal son, he eventually returns home to live in the French Quarter, around the corner from where his grandmother grew up, only to struggle through the aftermath of Katrina and the city's resurrection.
Many of these stories are entwined with the commentaries of a wry flaneur, addressing such subjects as the nuances of race in New Orleans, the Disneyfication of the French Quarter, the numbing anomie of digital technology and globalization, the challenges of caring for aging parents, Creole funeral traditions, how to make a soul-searing gumbo, and what it really means to belong.