#Excerpt2 “Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel” by Melanie Forde

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cover Title: Decanted Truths
Author: Melanie Forde
Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction / Family Saga

For Irish immigrant families like the Harrigans and Gavagans, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston in the nineteenth century. For twice-orphaned Leah Gavagan, who comes of age in the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that disrupt her daily life — and sometimes come true. She has difficulty fitting in with her surroundings: whether the lace-curtain Dorchester apartment overseen by her judgmental Aunt Margaret or the wild Manomet bluff shared with her no-nonsense Aunt Theo and brain-damaged Uncle Liam. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping the earlier generation, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan gold rush, the Spanish-American War, and The Great War. She learns of the secrets that have bound Theo and Margaret together. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. Her new truth both blinds and dazzles her, much like the Waterford decanter at the center of her oldest dreams — an artifact linking three Irish-American families stumbling after the American Dream.

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EXCERPTS #2

Testing, one last time, the security of the replacement shingles he had just applied, [Paulie] made note of where his toolbox and bucket of tar lay. He didn’t want to trip when rising… Peering above the roof ridge, Paulie’s eyes promptly watered from the brilliance of the sunlight bedazzling the water under an azure sky. From this perspective, as he knelt on the landward side of the roof, the water didn’t appear below him so much as in front of him, as if it were spreading out to infinity in mid-air.

Is that dot on the right Race Point Light? That’s twenty miles away as the gull flies!

                What’s more, he thought he could see the open ocean beyond Provincetown, plus the earth’s curve limiting this otherwise endless horizon. On this phenomenally crisp afternoon, Paulie fantasized he might even be able to see his homeland. Not just the Azores, but Portugal!

Only half-rising, he clambered higher for a better look… Monitoring his foot placement, he suddenly chided himself for classifying those two landmasses across the vast blue sea as home.

Both my parents were born in Massachusetts, for Chrissakes!

                As he straightened up, he was glad for indulging his irrational urge and understood Theo’s fondness for this view, probably worth all the gales in Christendom.

Just shy of the roof ridge, he spread his feet to shoulder width and raised a palm to test for breezes. The air was remarkably still. Nevertheless, the arm movement muddled his equilibrium. Or maybe the blame lay with those perspective-distorting whitecap whorls dancing before him, instead of below him (or so it seemed). Both arms rocketed out to restore his balance. Relaxing into his new position, Paulie felt as confident as a mountain goat—even though he stood atop a two-and-a-half-story clapboard house perched on a cliff one hundred feet above the churning bay…

Confidently braced at the roof ridge, Paulie spread out his arms. Not for balance, but to embrace the view, the sun, the water, life. He tossed his head back and gulped in the clean, salt air while he maintained that open-hearted posture… Feeling the sun on his upturned palms, he realized he looked very much like the statue of Christ the Redeemer, now nearing completion in Rio de Janeiro. He had marveled at the newsreel footage of that hundred-foot work of art, dramatically sited on a mountaintop overlooking the city. And now here he was, looking out, arms spread above Cape Cod Bay, just as the Nazarene carpenter held all of Guanabara Bay in his embrace.

The Manomet workman wondered if Jesus had ever felt similarly invulnerable in a lifespan that ended only a few years beyond Paulie’s current age. Had the Redeemer known what it was to feel this alive, this sun-kissed, this synchronized with every heartbeat on the planet?

Excerpt #3

Perception competes with reality in any immigrant’s assessment of life in America. For millions of Irish who crossed the Atlantic in the nineteenth century, perception was paramount—not because they experienced hardship or success to any greater degree than their counterparts from Germany or Italy, but because the Irish had a lively disregard for reality. For eight centuries, they had denied their mortality by charging into one hopeless rising after another. Even a well-educated Irishman acknowledged the geomantic pull of the Four Green Fields, with their earth and water spirits, their sacred wells, and their enchanted crossroads. And whenever reality intruded too roughly, the Irish were adept at numbing themselves with alcohol.

Perception of the great American melting pot varied from Irishman to Irishman. Many willingly lived in wretchedly overcrowded conditions in Boston’s Fort Hill ghetto or the North End, overpowered by the stench of open sewers. They were in constant danger of contracting typhoid fever and consumption or asphyxiating in a tenement or factory fire. For some, the bitter reality of American cities was worse than the life they’d escaped on the other side of the Atlantic. The psychological challenges were equally daunting, especially in Boston, arguably the most hostile city an Irishman could encounter in the United States. Its entrenched, homogeneous Yankee class had inherited the Puritans’ loathing for the lesser races and religions afflicting the British Isles. Yet Irish transplants insisted on sinking their roots in Cotton Mather’s hometown, even after the signs went up everywhere, snarling, “No Irish Need Apply.”

Many immigrants refused to focus on the direness of their circumstances because their faith in a glorious future was unshakable. Everything would work out for them next year or in the next decade. And if it didn’t, well, their children would be the ones to realize the American Dream. Everyone knew of at least one Corkonian who had metamorphosed from an ignorant, disenfranchised starveling into a well-fed, educated, politically empowered American. In the United States, anything was possible. In America, the direction was always up.

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Author BioMelanie Forde

Raised in a Boston Irish family, Melanie Forde knew her life was infinitely easier than that of her ancestors, refugees from the Potato Famine. The storytelling skills of her elders kept ancestral triumphs and tragedies alive, so that the Potato Famine and the Easter Rebellion felt as real as the Cold War. Inheriting the storyteller gene, Ms. Forde is the author of three earlier novels, her Hillwilla trilogy. She now lives far from her roots, on a West Virginia farm. She still maintains a potato patch—just in case.

Links

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Amazon page  

Author’s Facebook page

Goodreads profile

Instagram profile

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#Excerpt1 “Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel” by Melanie Forde

tour banner

~~~

cover Title: Decanted Truths
Author: Melanie Forde
Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction / Family Saga

For Irish immigrant families like the Harrigans and Gavagans, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston in the nineteenth century. For twice-orphaned Leah Gavagan, who comes of age in the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that disrupt her daily life — and sometimes come true. She has difficulty fitting in with her surroundings: whether the lace-curtain Dorchester apartment overseen by her judgmental Aunt Margaret or the wild Manomet bluff shared with her no-nonsense Aunt Theo and brain-damaged Uncle Liam. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping the earlier generation, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan gold rush, the Spanish-American War, and The Great War. She learns of the secrets that have bound Theo and Margaret together. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. Her new truth both blinds and dazzles her, much like the Waterford decanter at the center of her oldest dreams — an artifact linking three Irish-American families stumbling after the American Dream.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

~~~

EXCERPT #1

With The Dream’s first visit, [Leah] had no tools of interpretation. A toddler … has no way of understanding the sensory input from deep within a sailing vessel. It took years of dreaming, reading, and schooling to identify the venue, to understand that great linen sails would snap in the wind, that the wind itself often assumed a tormented human voice, that a wooden hull would creak in protest against a rolling, pitching sea.

The Dream didn’t have much of a plot but offered vignettes of life in steerage, from the perspective of one specific passenger. Through his eyes, Leah saw care-worn faces of all ages. The bodies supporting those faces were generally far too thin and covered in shabby, soiled clothing. The garments suggested a different era. Leah witnessed snippets of diverse human dramas: incipient love affairs, marriages fraying under the stress of the ocean odyssey, the imminence of death for some…

The passenger sharing visions with the dreamer would retreat to a recess tucked behind a hanging lantern. Leah eventually realized her guide was a boy. She never saw his face, any more than she could see her own face without benefit of a mirror. But she could see his short, thin limbs. Moreover, that recess appeared too restricted to accommodate an adult. And from the dreamer’s early twentieth-century perspective, the passenger’s odd-looking pants were a reliable indicator of a male body underneath the cloth. Nor could Leah imagine any female, even the most impoverished, putting up with such spectacularly ugly shoes. In the privacy of his hidey hole, the boy would invariably remove his boots briefly and rub his feet as if in pain. Naked, the right foot twisted horribly inward. The deformity so repelled the young dreamer that she sometimes would shake herself awake.

Eventually, she realized the scary sight was worth tolerating. After the boy finished rubbing his feet, his grubby fingers would reach for a burlap bag tucked even more deeply into the recess. His hands would then extract something swathed in oilcloth. Once unwrapped, the contents exploded with shards of lantern light in a dizzying array of colors. Looking down at the object in the boy’s lap, Leah could see his chest and belly expand briefly. Then those small hands would rewrap the light-filled wonder in the filthy oilcloth and return it to the burlap sack. With a shove from his good foot, he would push the bag deeper into the ship’s cavity.

The hidden object filled the darkest corners of the dreamer’s soul with light. With beauty. With hope. It stirred every corpuscle in her blood.

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Author BioMelanie Forde

Raised in a Boston Irish family, Melanie Forde knew her life was infinitely easier than that of her ancestors, refugees from the Potato Famine. The storytelling skills of her elders kept ancestral triumphs and tragedies alive, so that the Potato Famine and the Easter Rebellion felt as real as the Cold War. Inheriting the storyteller gene, Ms. Forde is the author of three earlier novels, her Hillwilla trilogy. She now lives far from her roots, on a West Virginia farm. She still maintains a potato patch—just in case.

Links

Website

Amazon page  

Author’s Facebook page

Goodreads profile

Instagram profile

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#BlogTour “Decanted Truths: An Irish-American Novel” by Melanie Forde

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~~~

cover Title: Decanted Truths
Author: Melanie Forde
Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction / Family Saga

For Irish immigrant families like the Harrigans and Gavagans, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston in the nineteenth century. For twice-orphaned Leah Gavagan, who comes of age in the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that disrupt her daily life — and sometimes come true. She has difficulty fitting in with her surroundings: whether the lace-curtain Dorchester apartment overseen by her judgmental Aunt Margaret or the wild Manomet bluff shared with her no-nonsense Aunt Theo and brain-damaged Uncle Liam. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping the earlier generation, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan gold rush, the Spanish-American War, and The Great War. She learns of the secrets that have bound Theo and Margaret together. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. Her new truth both blinds and dazzles her, much like the Waterford decanter at the center of her oldest dreams — an artifact linking three Irish-American families stumbling after the American Dream.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

~~~

Author BioMelanie Forde

Raised in a Boston Irish family, Melanie Forde knew her life was infinitely easier than that of her ancestors, refugees from the Potato Famine. The storytelling skills of her elders kept ancestral triumphs and tragedies alive, so that the Potato Famine and the Easter Rebellion felt as real as the Cold War. Inheriting the storyteller gene, Ms. Forde is the author of three earlier novels, her Hillwilla trilogy. She now lives far from her roots, on a West Virginia farm. She still maintains a potato patch—just in case.

Links

Website

Amazon page  

Author’s Facebook page

Goodreads profile

Instagram profile

~~~

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“A Measure of Trouble (Alex Warren Murder Mysteries Book 2)” by Zach Abrams

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A Measure of Trouble (Alex Warren Murder Mysteries Book 2)

by Zach Abrams

Genre: Literary Fiction/Contemporary/General Humor/British & Irish

FREE at time of posting! Kindle Unlimited!

A cold February morning in Scotland begins with the discovery of a body, as Hector Mathewson is found dead within the cask room of his own distillery.

While directing the hunt for the murderer, D.C.I. Alex Warren needs to balance his own turbulent personal life. Their plentiful suspects have motives ranging from greed and nationalism to adultery and revenge.

A Measure of Trouble is a gripping tartan noir thriller set in Glasgow. This is a standalone mystery and can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read other books in the series.

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“The Gardener of Baghdad” by Ahmad Ardalan

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The Gardener of Baghdad

by Ahmad Ardalan

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction/British & Irish/Middle Eastern

99¢ at time of posting!

Two people, one city, different times; connected by a memoir. Can love exist in a city destined for decades of misery?

Adnan leads a weary existence as a bookshop owner in modern-day, war-torn Baghdad, where bombings, corruption and assault are everyday occurrences and the struggle to survive has suffocated the joy out of life for most. But when he begins to clean out his bookshop of forty years to leave his city in search of somewhere safer, he comes across the story of Ali, the Gardener of Baghdad, Adnan rediscovers through a memoir handwritten by the gardener decades ago that beauty, love and hope can still exist, even in the darkest corners of the world.

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“Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli” by Portia MacIntosh

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Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli

by Portia MacIntosh

Genre: Romance/Holiday/Literary Humor/British & Irish

99¢ at the time of posting!

The laugh-out-loud new novel from bestseller Portia Macintosh!

Lily Holmes is ready for a fresh start. And there’s no better place to begin again than the idyllic seaside town of Marram Bay.

All Lily wants to do is focus on making her new deli a success and ensuring her son’s happiness. Not the postcard creeping out of her handbag, and definitely not finding a new man in her life!

But this isn’t going to be as easy as she first thought. The town is in uproar about the city girl who’s dared to join them and she’s fighting a battle at every turn.

Perhaps with a little help from the gorgeous cider farmer next door, she may be able to win them over, but her past secrets threaten to ruin everything…

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#Review “The Things We Need to Say” by Rachel Burton

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Cover

4/5 Stars!

The breakdown of a marriage is a painful thing to watch, especially when it could have been avoided with open, honest conversation.

Francesca Sullivan gets the romance-novel happily-ever-after.

After losing her beloved mother, she walks away from all she knew and starts over. A few years later Fran meets William Browne, a new attorney at the firm she works for… and her new boss.

The relationship is a slow build for obvious reasons, but love wins in the end. Fran takes a position at another firm… when she claims the title of Mrs. William Browne. Add a home in the country and frequent travel to exotic locales, and life is perfect.

Except it wasn’t.

I do not doubt Fran and Will’s love for each other. But I found it confusing that two people in a loving marriage who spent so much time together never had a truly honest conversation.

Will, at eight years Fran’s senior, is in a rush to fill their home with children.

Fran isn’t sure when or IF she wants children. But she wants to make Will happy, so, yes, let’s have children!

The attempts are many and the results depressing, until the last one where devastation quickly steals the Browne’s joy, and their marriage topples from its shaky foundation.

A yoga retreat (in SPAIN) Fran volunteered to teach to help her get back into life becomes the opportunity for her to get away from Will and clear her head. (Honestly, I don’t believe she had to ‘go’ anywhere. They were doing a bang-up job of ignoring each other while living in the same house which, of course, was the problem.)

Fran and Will each endure their own personal hell while they’re apart.

Will deserved every bit of misery he suffered in the aftermath—he doesn’t get a pass–but to his credit, he makes no excuses—doesn’t try to build a defense or place blame.

Fran doesn’t indulge in playing the victim, but she could. To her credit, she forces herself to admit the role she played in what came before.

The Brownes show such strength of character after they separate, I wanted to scream, “Where was this attitude a hundred pages ago?” HA!

So, while Will spirals into a depressed shadow of himself, Fran is in Spain instructing students in the nuances of yoga and fighting off a wicked case of ‘food poisoning.’

My knowledge of yoga principles is limited—emphasis on limited—so I did not understand what made people travel to another country just to do what they did back home.

In the end, it didn’t matter because I don’t believe it was about the yoga, but the human interaction.

An eclectic cast of supporting characters give The Things We Need to Say the room it needs to breathe. Without realizing it, Fran was able to glean insight and wisdom from David, Constance, Joy, Elizabeth, Katrin, and Molly. Even Amado and Jake were great sources of inspiration.

Fran shares her troubles and has conversations… with everyone but Will.

Will wants to talk to Fran but doesn’t trust himself not to fall back into his pattern of hearing what he wants to hear.

This is where this engrossing read lost a star with me.

Except for the devastating conversation before Fran left, all that is known of Fran and Will is told through internal thoughts and flashbacks.

We see the budding romance blossom and new paths taken. We also get to see the conversations that didn’t go far enough, and the admissions not made.

As Fran works through her demons while in Spain, she’s gifted with tiny epiphanies which lighten her emotional burden and allow her to give voice to her guilt, doubt, and frustrations.

And boy, does she… to Elizabeth, Amado, Katrin, and even Jake. Discussing one’s problems with third parties isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can provide much-needed insight the way it did for Fran Browne. (Special mention here to Mia, who didn’t allow a language barrier to keep her from supplying support Fran didn’t even know she needed.)

Will leans on his younger brother, Jaime, who’s dealing with similar issues, but never misses a chance to give his honest and sometimes brutal (and humorous) opinion.

But while this journey makes the Brownes see where the mistakes were made, and where problems took root which were never dealt with, when it is at last time for the things we need to say… the scene fades to black.

And I felt cheated.

The one conversation in the story I’d waited for and it’s not shown.

The telling (or assumptions) took a bit of the shine off this read for me.

Meh.

Technically, editing and grammar are sound. Formatting was an issue and gave me pause, but as I received my ARC from Netgalley, I’m giving them a wink and a nod that this isn’t the finished product.

Regardless, this intimate look at the dynamics of a marriage built on sand and dreams is not one to be missed. The writing is strong, evoking the gamut of emotions which make a read so enjoyable. Clear your schedule and spend some time with Fran and Will—two people who finally stop struggling to get back to what they were when they realize who they need to be… themselves.

Enjoy!

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Sometimes the things we never say are the most important.

Fran loves Will with all her heart. They had a whirlwind romance, a perfect marriage and a wonderful life. Cover thumbnailUntil everything changed. Now Fran needs to find her way again and teaching a yoga retreat in Spain offers her just that. Leaving behind a broken marriage she has some very important decisions to make.

Will needs his wife, he needs her to open up to him if they’re to ever return to the ways things once were. But he may have damaged any possibility he had of mending their relationship and now Fran is in Spain and Will is alone.

As both Fran and Will begin to let go of a life that could have been, fate may just find a way of bringing them back together.

Perfect for fans of Katie Marsh, Amanda Prowse and Sheila O’Flanagan

~ Buy Links ~ 

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Publication Day – May 11, 2018