Friday, July 17, 2009
Laurie Lewis, Writing as L. C. Lewis
I met Laurie Lewis for the first time this year, both in her prose and in person. I took a liking to both when she wrote a review of my book, Counting the Cost. She was immediately a friend for life because she liked my book, but more than that, the way she strung the words of that review together made me know this was a serious writer.
We met in person at a writers conference this last spring, and I came home with the first two books of her Free Men and Dreamers series, Dark Sky at Dawn and Twilight’s Last Gleaming.
These books are set in the years leading up to the War of 1812 and follow the fortunes of Jed Pearson and his family and those of his sweetheart, Hannah Stansbury and her family.
Laurie Lewis knows her American history, and she weaves bits and pieces of it into her narrative, because the forces that shape our country during this time are also shaping the lives of the Pearsons, the Stansburys, and others of their inner circles.
For instance, the issue of slavery looms large, as both the Pearsons and the Stansburys are slaveholders, but Hannah is morally and philosophically opposed to the practice. Jed is swayed by her arguments, but he has the weight of running a plantation on his shoulders, and the expediency of slaveholding is something he wrestles with throughout the two books. Through his inner struggles, Laurie Lewis teaches us the realities of how this repugnant practice was able to survive for another fifty years in America.
Laurie also loops us in to a couple families in England, and we see how, even as sabres are rattling on each side of the Atlantic, the lives of Americans and the British are still bound together by ties of common origins and mutual benefit.
But, back to the main characters: Jed is a forward-looking, pragmatic young man, sprung from a land-owning, well-to-do family that carries a social stigma because of something his grandfather did. Hannah is studious and introspective and cares nothing for the social prominence that is her mother’s all-in-all. If they lived in this day and age, Hannah’s mother would be on a strong psycho-therapeutic drug to control her erratic behavior and mood swings, but living when they do, the family just hunkers down and tries to survive with as little damage as possible. There is great damage, though, in Hannah’s personal life, because her mother sees the Pearsons as the cause of her own unhappiness and won’t stand for an alliance between the two families. Hannah has to choose between Jed and her family.
Hannah makes that choice at the end of the second book, just as the War of 1812 is beginning. The third book of the series, Dawn’s Early Light is coming out in October. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Laurie Lewis lives in Maryland, close to the areas she’s writing about. She has the ability to put the reader in the place, time, and socioeconomic riptides of our young nation. Not only does she spin a good yarn and write great prose, but she painlessly teaches American History along the way.
Through Jed and Hannah, we meet some real historical people, like Lighthorse Harry Lee and Stephen Mack, uncle to the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. Laurie Lewis lets us see them as real people, not cardboard historical figures.
Laurie Lewis writes her historical novels as L. C. Lewis. You can buy Dark Sky at Dawn by clicking here.
Click here to purchase Twilight's Last Gleaming.
And, after you've read them and are hooked, or even before, check out Laurie's blog. You'll see what I mean about great prose, and she sponsors fun contests on her blog, too.
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