Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Past Book Reviews 2020 – #1920s #Familysaga – Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau


I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.

I am delighted to share my review from August 2020 for the novel Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau.

About Telling Sonny

At nineteen, pretty, vivacious Faby Gagne is still waiting for her life to begin. The time is 1924, the place Enosburg Falls, Vermont. With school over, her time is now occupied with mundane chores and avoiding the crossfire of resentment between her mother and her grandmother.

As the time approaches for the annual vaudeville show to arrive in the village, Faby watches the posters go up with increasing excitement. She is the best kind of audience for the Small Time: she does not discriminate.

When the show comes to the Opera House at last, Faby catches the eye of charming hoofer Slim White, who sets a course for her life that she never could have imagined.

My review for Telling Sonny 20th August 2020

Elizabeth Gauffreau takes the brief but fateful encounter between Faby, a young and naive small town girl, and a flambouyant vaudeville performer called Slim White (Louis Kittel), and creates a wonderfully engaging family drama.

We are taken on a rail trip around the eastern states of the USA, stopping off at towns and coastal resorts with their playhouses on the established circuits within the small time Vaudeville. Through the eyes of Faby, now locked into an enforced relationship with a virtual stranger, we meet the colourful performers that live out of their suitcases. Usually in dingy digs with little money left over for food or the train fare to their next engagement. A tough life and not for the fainthearted, as Faby was to discover along with the kindness of strangers. The description of life on the circuit and the individuals we discover through Faby’s reflections, was rich in detail and clearly well researched.

Two sets of values are at odds with each other which influences Faby and Louis’s relationship, small town versus the exotic and less restricted Vaudeville lifestyle. Faby is clearly out of her depth, but as she explores the towns and cities on the circuit, in the long hours that Louis is at the theatre, she begins to grow and become more self-reliant. Unfortunately, as you become immersed in the story, you cannot help but sense things are not going to end well, but you hope against hope that there might be a happy ending for this mismatched pair.

The author has created memorable characters both on the home front and on the road, with some lovely surprises as we get to know them better, including one of my favourites; Faby’s grandmother.

This novel is beautifully written with a gentle pace but is still a page turner as the reader becomes fascinated in how the story of this ill-fated relationship is going to end. Thankfully the author provides us with secret revealing final chapters, as the story of Faby, Louis and Sonny the child they share,comes to a close. Highly recommended.

Read the reviews and buy: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Read more reviews and follow Elizabeth: Goodreads

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

I have always been drawn to the inner lives of other people–what they care about, what they most desire, what causes them pain, what brings them joy. These inner lives become my characters. I write to tell their stories.

My fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines, including Rio Grande Review, Serving House Journal, Soundings East, Hospital Drive, Blueline, Evening Street Review, and Adelaide Literary Magazine, as well as several themed anthologies. Telling Sonny is my first published book.

I hold a B.A. in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Currently, I am the Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont.

Connect to ElizabethWebsite/blog: Liz Gauffreau – Family History: Liz Gauffreau – Facebook: Liz Gauffreau – Twitter: @lgauffreau

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you enjoyed the review of Telling Sonny and will head over to buy and enjoy. Thanks Sally.

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors – #1920s Elizabeth Gauffreau, #History Paul Edmondson, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls


There are over 150 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I wanted to keep it to key pieces of information such as buying links, recent review, website and covers. However, I know that readers also like to know more about the background of authors.

In this series during June and July I will share the bios of all the authors in the cafe in a random selection. I hope that this will introduce you to the authors in more depth and encourage you to check out their books and follow them on their blog and Twitter.

Meet Elizabeth Gauffreau

I have always been drawn to the inner lives of other people–what they care about, what they most desire, what causes them pain, what brings them joy. These inner lives become my characters. I write to tell their stories.

My fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines, including Rio Grande Review, Serving House Journal, Soundings East, Hospital Drive, Blueline, Evening Street Review, and Adelaide Literary Magazine, as well as several themed anthologies. Telling Sonny is my first published book.

I hold a B.A. in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Currently, I am the Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont.

One of the recent reviews for Telling Sonny

Telling Sonny is the sad, wonderful tale of Faby Gauthier, a small-town Vermont girl just coming of age who is seduced by a smooth-talking vaudeville actor whose stage name is Slim White. After he leaves town Faby finds she is pregnant. She eventually tracks him down and they are married, much to the chagrin of her conservative French-Canadian family. Louis Kittel (Slim’s true name) then brings Faby south, from city to town, show to show and the whole while her hopes of this man she barely knows turning into a reliable and loving husband and father begin to fade.

As the book moves along the author Elizabeth Gauffreau does a masterful job of pulling the reader right into the 1920s—the colorful description, imagery and period-perfect word selection makes the reader wonder if this might actually have been some gifted writer’s diary from the early 20th century that was turned into a novel.

By the middle of the book I was invested emotionally in Faby’s plight, and strongly disliked the lying, cheating Slim White and in each chapter I hoped he would either come around and change for Faby’s sake (and the sake of his child), or that Faby would simply leave him. Alas, neither of those things truly came to pass, and near the end I wondered if this was just one of those unhappy stories that was well- and intentionally written to do nothing other than evoke sorrow and melancholy. I was delighted to find, however, that this wasn’t quite the case, as the final two chapters seemed to bring closure to Faby’s unfortunate story.

All in all, a beautifully written, evocative, sad, and curiously happy story I will remember for a long time to come.

Elizabeth Gauffreau, BuyAmazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Elizabeth: Goodreads –  blog: Liz Gauffreau – Twitter: @lgauffreau

Meet Paul Edmondson

Paul Edmondson was born in Salford, England and now lives in Waterford, Ireland. He has retired, enabling him to pursue his passions of writing and photography.

He is a founding member of the Waterford Writers group and his poems have appeared in an anthology of Waterford Writers, in Déise Voices, regional newspapers and magazines. His photographic works have appeared on national television, national and regional newspapers.

He has presented his work at public forums, including open mic sessions and at charitable events.

Having travelled to every continent through his working life, it was visiting Yosemite National Park and surrounding areas for pleasure that gave him the inspiration and motivation to study the history of the park and its indigenous populations, leading to the writing of Great Spirit of Yosemite: The Story of Chief Tenaya.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jun 22, 2020 Mary Crowley rated it Five Stars it was amazing

Set in a natural backdrop of mountains capturing the Indian way of life. The Story of Chief Tenya is a refreshing insight of historical events interwoven with a skilfully written story. Most books tend focus on tales of new settlers whereas The Story of Chief Tenya offers an awareness of tribal life, resulting in being both an educational and compelling read. We learn of the sacrifices Indians were forced to endure as their heritage was threatened by greed and violence. The book not only offers literary insight but is also filled with beautiful photographs. A fantastic and beautifully written novel which I highly recommend reading.

Paul Edmondson, buy: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK  – follow Paul: Goodreads – Website: Paul Edmondson Author – Facebook: Paul Edmondson

Meet Karen Ingalls

Karen Ingalls is the author of four books of which two are award-winning. She has published non-fiction, biographical novel, historical novel, and short stories. She is a retired Registered Nurse with a Masters Degree in Human Development.

Ms. Ingalls’s non-fiction book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, won first place at the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards in the category of women’s health. It was a top finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award of 2012 in the two categories of health and self-help.
The book offers hope and inspiration to women and their families.

Her most recent book is a series of twelve short stories When I Rise: Tales, Truths, and Symbolic Trees.

Davida: Model & Mistress is about the love affair between her great-grandparents Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Davida. There are little-known facts about Davida except for her role as a model for many of the sculptor’s famous works. It won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and the Apple Award for 2016.

Novy’s Son, The Selfish Genius, is about Murray Clark, who sought love and acceptance from his father, who was the bastard child of the famous sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After reading Iron John by Robert Bly, Ms. Ingalls recognized what was missing in her father’s life.

She is a blogger, public speaker, author of many articles, and advocate for gynecologic cancer awareness and fundraiser for research. In her spare time, she loves to read and play golf.

Karen donates all proceeds from her books to ovarian cancer research.

Books by Karen Ingalls

51GERUMF7FL._UY250_51q05nsoi7L._UY250_51wBeydFoBL._UY250_

A recent review for When I Rise

L D Tanner5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of Social Issues Tied to Symbolism of Trees  Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2020

What drew me to read “When I Rise” by Karen Ingalls are 12 modern-day tales of social issues and how they are symbolically tied to trees. Each of the tales is about a social issue that is told in a unique way. Some tales span several generations while others are told about a moment in time. Some of the tales are inspiring while others are sobering. The tales that most resonated with me are “The Cigar Box” and “The Machine Shop.” Others may find other short stories have special meaning for them.

“The Cigar Box” is about a hand-crafted box that is hand-crafted from cedar, but the carving on the top of the lid is an olive tree standing alone in a field and with branches stretching “as if trying to reach out and touch someone or something.” The tale spans several generations as the cigar box is handed off to each new generation. It is a poignant story of how family members tried to reach out to each other while working a winery beginning in 1833. The cigar box has a magical mist that whenever someone breathes in its aroma, the person’s well-being or sense of purpose improves in a mystical way. It as though the cigar box embraces the best of each person’s essence and emanates its sweet fragrance.

“The Machine Shop” is a sobering short story about the psychological impact on a family after the mother dies. It is a tragic tale that is associated with the Cypress Tree about the importance of talking with children about life and death, and helping them to deal with difficult times instead of succumbing to them.

Author Karen Ingalls masterfully reveals the truth about how we deal with issues in life by symbolically relating these to trees. I recommend reading the softcover book as it is beautifully formatted which adds to the reading experience.

Karen Ingalls, buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Karen: Goodreads – Blog: Karen Ingalls – Twitter: @KIngallsAuthor

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you have enjoyed meeting more of the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and discovering their books. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – #Flash Sarah Brentyn, #Family Claire Fullerton, #1920s Elizabeth Gauffreau


Welcome to the first of the Cafe and Bookstore updates for the week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author Sarah Brentyn with a recent review for her collection of short fiction Hinting at Shadows

About Hinting at Shadows

No One Escapes Life Unscathed

Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness that lives there.A girl haunted by her sister’s drowning. A boy desperate for his father’s affection. A woman forced to make a devastating decision. A man trapped by his obsessions.

Experience tales of love, loss, murder, and madness through this collection of flash and micro fiction.Take a peek behind the smile of a stranger. Get a glimpse inside the heart of a friend. Scratch the surface and discover what is hidden beneath.

These stories will open your mind, tug at your thoughts, and allow you to explore the possibility that, even in the brightest moments, something is Hinting at Shadows.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Harmony Kent 5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Brilliant   on November 13, 2019

This is a collection of flash fiction broken up into four sections, and it is an easy and quick read.

Having said that, brief as these snippets are, they go deep. I reckon I shall be re-reading this one over and over again. Here are a couple of lines that stood out for me:

‘Till the earth of who I was. From this mangled mass of roots, let something whole and healthy break through. Let something beautiful grow.’ and …

‘My life ebbs away, sailing from the shifting shore of my body like a piece of driftwood floating out to sea.’

And another one, which made me chuckle–I could relate to this one! … ‘The doctors say “insomnia” and prescribe pills. I say “writer” and pick up a pen.’

The writing was that good that I wanted each story to continue, but this is flash and micro fiction, so they don’t. Some of the stories are more like teasers and slice-of-life but brilliant nonetheless.

I read this in one go and couldn’t put it down. It gets a solid five stars from me.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Sarah Brentyn

Read the reviews and buy the Collections: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Sarah: Goodreads

Connect to Sarah via her: Blog

The next author with a recent review for her family saga is Claire Fullerton with Mourning Dove.

About Mourning Dove

The heart has a home when it has an ally.

If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.

Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.

But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?

One of the recent reviews for the book

As a Christian, and as a southern woman, I found this book compelling, engrosing and poignant. Her dialogue is as smooth as silk and reminds me of Pat Conroy in Prince of Tides. . I was simply carried away in her story about a family in peril.

Her characters are believable her dialogue sharp as a tack and her humor reminds me a lot of Barbara Kingsolver in the Poisionwood Bible. This is the first book of Claire Fullerton’s I have read and believe me it will not be the last! Thank you for a lovely read and by reading this book I was momentarily able to relax and get away from today’s world where we are so rushed and harried and so caught up In the News of the day, we fail to notice the subtle beauty all around us and she pointed that out.

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Claire on : Goodreads

Connect to Claire via her website: Claire Fullerton

And for the final review today as we step back in time to the 1920’s and American Vaudeville courtesy of Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau.

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train.

Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written  December 10, 2019

This is a beautifully told story. Until the last few chapters of the book, the story belongs to the teenage Faby Gauthier who becomes pregnant in the 1920s and hastily marries the future baby’s father, a hoofer on the vaudeville circuit. For four months, she goes on the road with Louis Kittel aka Slim White. There are moments of kindness, but she is often left alone to rue her choices, and eventually returns home to Vermont to have her baby, Sonny.

Telling Sonny is a biography that reads like fiction with the perfect details to bring Faby’s world – settings, experiences, and emotions – to life. She’s a well-rounded and sympathetic character, and I found her narration engrossing. Secondary characters are equally strong, and though in many ways a sad tale, this is also a story about the strength of family. The book moves along at a moderate pace, and yet I was unable to put it down.

The title and blurb are a little misleading as they refer to the bookends of the story, not the longer tale between. The story begins and ends with Faby as a middle-aged woman fretting over telling Sonny about his father’s death. The meat of the story covers Faby’s short relationship with Louis. The structure makes sense in the end, giving a sense of closure to Faby (and the reader). A highly recommended book for anyone who enjoys biographies, literary fiction, women’s fiction, and well-told tales in general.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth: Goodreads

Connect to Elizabeth via her blog: Liz Gauffreau

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm…thanks Sally.