Books Author Spotlight

Spotlight: Blind Tribute by Mari Anne Christie

Cover of Blind Tribute by Mari Anne ChristieIt’s a pleasure to welcome Mari Christie to the website today. Blind Tribute, her Civil War novel about a journalist of extraordinary principle, is due out July 28. The timing is impeccable, as today’s journalists face nearly as many death threats as her protagonist, and over some of the same festering issues. Below you’ll find an intriguing bit that had to be left out of the novel, a blurb, and an excerpt from the novel itself. Read to the end for a chance to win an ebook edition and some neat swag, including a quill pen and powdered ink.

One of Harry Wentworth’s most admirable, and infuriating, traits is his desire to be thorough in his examination of every issue. This serves his reporting well, but not his safety, and occasionally makes him appear slow to action, even as decisiveness is also an innate behavior. This habit of exhaustive contemplation is exemplified in many ways throughout the book, but in the case of his family and friends, perhaps most visible in a brief mention early in the narrative:

Once he had taken care of posterity, assisting his likely future biographers by categorizing his musings, he turned to his last order of business for the day: updating his will, also a lifetime habit, which he had accomplished, without fail, before the onset of each new war. This time, little would change. He would leave all sitting members of The Standard Editorial Board fifty thousand dollars each, his financial interest in the paper allotted equally among them, with the admonition to reinvest in the newspaper. Two hundred fifty thousand would be bequeathed to his sister, along with most of the Wentworth family heirlooms he owned. Half the remaining estate—estimated at three-and-a-half million—was earmarked for his wife; the other half would be divided equally between his three children.

As with any work of fiction, many pieces were cut before the final version was published. In this case, I offer up the Last Will and Testament Harry writes nearer the end of the war, which introduces the many characters who become important to him during the course of the book, and demonstrates, in some wise, the changes he makes in his priorities.


Book Review – Hild: A Novel

Hild coverHild: A Novel
Nicola Griffith
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
560 pp; $27.00

I haven’t read much historical fiction, but I imagine writers in this genre might get so focused on making the past real that they forget to make it strange, to make it art. Nicola Griffith’s Hild: A Novel avoids that trap, making seventh-century England simultaneously so vivid and so dreamlike that I didn’t want to leave it, even after 500-plus pages. Even now, having finished it a second time (and wow, double post-novel depression!), I find it difficult to express my admiration for this book. Perhaps I should just quote Emily L. Hauser (@emilylhauser on Twitter) and be done: “Good lord, that was a book. A gobsmacking, wonderful book.”

Count me among the gobsmacked, and Neal Stephenson, too, who said that Hild feels like the classic on which Beowulf, the legends of King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones are based. That and the other glowing blurbs on the book’s back cover are closer to the truth than some of the other reserved-but-appreciative reviews the book received in print periodicals.

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