Amity Street continues the story that began in New Haven in 1856, chronicled in The Writing Master. It is now the year 1892. Anna Felice, a wealthy former opera star, travels from Rome, Italy, to America—Manhattan, New Haven, finally Amherst, Massachusetts—in search of the truth about her family history.
In Amherst, she encounters George Mullen, who holds the key to her past; Hazel Cooper, the writing master’s daughter, who is trying to chart the precarious course of her future; and Hazel’s cousin, the eccentric, enigmatic Davey Chillick, whose placid existence is about to take a startling turn.
And much to Anna’s surprise, as she learns the shocking facts about her background, she begins to fall in love with a little country town and the people in it.
The scope of the novel includes the social and political upheavals of the 1890s—among them the suffrage movement, the Rational Dress Society, and the conventions of courtship. It also encompasses the taming of a hawk, the right way to train a voice, the making of rhubarb wine, and—most of all—the many ways to define what we call home.
Reflecting the author’s affection for Victorian novels, New England history, and the towns and landscapes of Western Massachusetts, Amity Street is a thoughtful and compelling examination of a memorable cast of characters and the changing world in which they struggle to live their tumultuous lives.
The Quest for Inez: Two Ways to Find a Grandmother
A HIGHLY UNUSUAL APPROACH TO A GENEALOGICAL MYSTERY In April 1910, a young woman named Inez Willick gave birth to a baby girl, put her up for adoption, and disappeared. When Inez’s granddaughter began the search for her mother’s mother, she didn’t have much more than a name. But, as happens so often in genealogical research, she stumbled into an overwhelming bounty of information. Among her discoveries were another secret child, a close tie to one of America’s titans of industry, and a second cousin in California with a cache of family photos. What remained elusive was a definitive answer to the question that lay at the heart of the story: if Inez was her grandmother, who was her grandfather? There were a few clues, including a mysterious marriage (and annulment) and a scandalous rumor with no one left alive to verify it, but every road led to a dead end. Kitty Burns Florey, the author of nine novels, did what a fictionwriter does: she took the facts she unearthed and turned them into a plausible tale of not only a grandmother but a grandfather, a quiet turn-of-the-century Ohio town that is less serene than it appears, and an intriguing love story. This is family history with a new twist. Here are two stories: the verifiable facts – fascinating in themselves – and alongside them an alternative universe that takes the research and flies with it in an attempt to come close to the truth. And, in the process of writing her grandmother’s story, Florey delves into her mother’s life and her own and finds some surprising parallels – and some revelations she was not expecting.n
The Writing Master
5.5 x 8.5
May 5, 2013The Writing Master, set in the hot summer of 1856, is the story of Charles Cooper, a Connecticut penman and teacher of writing at a time when a fast, legible script was indispensable for a gentleman, and the gloriously embellished script of a master of the art was held in deep respect. Charles’s anguished memories of the tragic accident that killed his wife and baby son are complicated by his encounter with Lily Prescott, an unconventional woman with a shady past and an uncertain future. When a brutal murder takes place just outside the city of New Haven, Charles becomes involved in its solution, and the consequences of his choices are both unexpected and far-reaching.
Strongly influenced by the author’s love of nineteenth-century fiction and her immersion in New England history — and inspired by her 2009 nonfiction book, Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting — The Writing Master meticulously evokes another age – one of sooty railroad journeys, extravagantly inconvenient clothing, strict social codes, and severe penalties for their transgression – as well as the timeless passions and aspirations of a cast of memorable characters.
You can visit Kitty’s website at: http://www.kittyburnsflorey.com/