“Almost to Eden is a sumptuous trip into the past and a deeply affecting exploration of how that past is forever a part of who we are. McCash weaves a tale of love and heartbreak out of the day-to-day struggle to live a life of decency and honor. Her writing reminds one of Colleen McCullough at her most rewarding. Almost to Eden could be this generation’s The Thorn Birds.”
–Brian Jay Corrigan, award-winning author of The Poet of Loch Ness
“June McCash…has done it again – this time in fiction. She’s blended her love of history and storytelling into a heart-rending novel … a soul-stirring, spirit-moving saga that spans the Atlantic and three generations. Reading requirements – a hot mug of something and a box of hankies.”
–Stephen Doster, author of Voices from St. Simons and Lord Baltimore
“McCash’s evocative novel could well have been envisioned by Edith Wharton or Henry James. This “Upstairs Downstairs” tale weaves fact and fiction and the result is a delightful and moving read both for serious students of history as well as the casual reader.”
–Rick Hutto, author of The Gilded Cage and Crowning Glory
“June McCash’s debut novel spins an intricate and compelling tale with unfolding events worthy of Dickens.”
–Darnell Arnoult, author of Sufficient Grace
It’s been a long time since I posted on my web site. For those of you who don’t know me well, it has been a difficult year. I lost my husband to endocarditis in November, and there have been other family issues that have been uppermost in my mind. But things are beginning to improve in my world, and I hope they are going well in yours. Thanks to so many of you for your kind messages and posts in the meantime. A great deal has happened since my last posting.
Plum Orchard was published by Twin Oaks Press (in January) and seems to be selling well, especially on the Georgia and Florida coast. It takes place on Cumberland Island and is historical fiction based on the poignant and sometimes heart-breaking story of the enslaved Elisabeth (Zabette) Bernardey and Robert Stafford and their six children.
I also have a second book that has been published this year by Mercer University Press. It is called A Titanic Love Story: Ida and Isidor Straus and is a nonfiction account of the only first class couple who died together on the Titanic and who chose their fate rather than be separated. Their life together was as beautiful and noble as their deaths. I did a week-long book signing to inaugurate the book at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN, in early April.
Both books are available on Amazon and through Barnes and Noble. The Straus book is also available on Kindle, and Plum Orchard soon will be.
My current project is one co-authored with my son, Brenden Martin, who is a professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University. It is a history (with many photos) of the first 25 years of the restored Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The book will not be out until November, but it was written as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the historic hotel.
I hope to see some of you at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in October, the Georgia Book Festival on Jekyll Island in November, and the Amelia Island Book Festival in Florida in the spring. I will be speaking at all three. Please introduce yourself if you’re one of my readers.
My new novel Plum Orchard came out in January 2o12. It’s set on Cumberland Island and takes place in the nineteenth century plantation era and continues through the Civil War and its aftermath. The action moves from Cumberland to Groton, Connecticut, and then back to Cumberland, so the reader gets a dual perspective of the war years. I haven’t really started scheduling book signings yet, but if you have a bookstore where you’d like me to come for a signing, let me (and the bookstore) know.
Almost to Eden won for me the Georgia Writer of the Year Award for first novel. It was an exciting evening at the KSU Center of Kennesaw State University, where the Georgia Writers Association held its annual banquet and awards ceremony on June 11. Thanks to the Georgia Writers Association, the judge who made the selection, and all those of you who have written your encouragement in emails and letters. I am deeply honored and humbled by the amazing competition.
Thanks to so many of you who attended my recent talk at Linebaugh Library. It was really gratifying so see so many of my former students there. I thought you had had enough of my voice to last you a lifetime. At least there was not a quiz at the end. Right? I also did a talk recently to a fourth-grade class in Brunswick, Georgia. It was the second time I’ve talked with elementary school students. The first was at a second-grade creative writing class in a Murfreesboro, TN, magnet school. The thing I enjoy most about talking to (and with) kids is their spontaneity. I never know where their questions will come from, but they’re always wonderful in their enthusiasm. I have quite a few book clubs lined up for the spring. In fact, one group, the Book Tripsters, who apparently hail from all over, will be coming to Jekyll Island to talk with me about Almost to Eden and see the sites where so much of the story is located. One of the group’s members is a college classmate of mine, so it will be really special. I’ll be at the Scribbler’s Retreat Writers’ Conference on St. Simons Island, GA, again this year (in May). If you’re a writer and haven’t attended that conference, you still have a treat in store. In any case. I hope to you all of you somewhere in the coming months. Keep in touch
This fall has been a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with many readers of my new book, at places like the Southern Festival of Books, the Georgia Center for the Book, various book groups, etc. The spring is shaping up to be fun as well. I’ll be doing a talk on my book for Murfreesboro’s Linebaugh Library in February, the MTSU Honors College in March, and the Scribblers’ Retreat at St. Simons Island in May. (See events page for specific dates.) And, a book club from Alabama is coming all the way to Jekyll Island to meet me and see the historic sites in late April. That will be the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet with a book club ON the island, where they can see the marvelous club house and all the other historic sites. It is such a joy to talk with readers, to hear their reactions to the book, and to find out whether they think Maggie made the right decisions or not. My next novel, Plum Orchard, should be out in time for summer reading. At least I hope so. I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, I have some poems that will appear early in the new year. Ten of my poems have been selected for publication in a volume (currently in press) called Time and Tradition. I have also had one poem accepted for publication in a new book of poems and photographs that is being published by the Jekyll Island Authority. I don’t yet know the title, but I’ll keep you posted. May you have a blessed holiday season.
As always, I have several projects in the works. The one I am committed to completing this year is a book with a working title of A SEAL UPON THE HEART. It’s a narrative non-fiction work about Ida and Isidor Straus who died together on the Titanic. Another is a historical novel set on Cumberland Island, entitled PLUM ORCHARD. It tells the story of Elizabeth Bernardey, who was born a slave on Jekyll Island, but grew up on neighboring Cumberland Island where her father bought a plantation. She became the lifelong mistress of the island’s wealthiest plantation owner, Robert Stafford, and one of her daughters married a Russian count. It’s a fascinating story and one I plan to complete (or revise) and publish within the next year. I hope both of these books will be available by 2012.
Thanks to all of you who have attended my recent book signings. The ones at Jekyll Island and Barnes and Noble in Murfreesboro have been especially gratifying. The latter sold out of books twice in the two-hour period, and I had to re-supply them from my personal stock. They are now carrying the book in the Murfreesboro store. It is also available at Hastings, where I will be signing on July 24. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have you come. All writers have done book-signings when virtually nobody showed up, and there’s nothing lonelier. I’m also grateful to those of you who have bought the book and then turned up to buy additional copies as gifts. If this keeps up, I may just have to write another novel (as though there weren’t another already in the works).
I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to be here at Jekyll Island when my debut novel was published this month and to launch it in my favorite place. About 90 people came to the event held at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel on May 17 and sponsored by the hotel, the Jekyll Island Museum, and the Friends of Historic Jekyll Island. It was wonderful to see so many friendly and receptive faces, some folks I’ve known for a long time and others whom I met for the first time. We’re still on the island, where I will do one more book-signing at Jekyll Books on May 30 (2-4). I spoke again at the Brunswick-Glynn County Library on May 25 and did a signing at G.J. Ford on St. Simons the previous week. One of the events I have discovered on the Georgia Coast is the Scribblers’ Retreat. I was invited to talk about my nonfiction work on May 14 and had a wonderful time meeting so many new people and hearing some amazing speakers.
We head back to Tennessee next week, where I have several events set up, one of which is a book-signing at the Barnes and Noble in Murfreesboro on June 26. But we’ll be back to Jekyll in September and October (book-signing at Hattie’s Bookstore in Brunswick on October 1) and then again after the first of the year. I’d love to hear from you.
For book clubs Almost to Eden contains a series of questions at the end that are intended to stimulate discussion. Book clubs interested in having the author speak can contact her through Twin Oaks Press at twinoakspress.com.
I have just published a new book, my debut historical novel, Almost to Eden, which will be generally available after its launch on May 17 at 7 p.m. at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The event is sponsored by the hotel, the Jekyll Island Museum, and the Friends of Historic Jekyll Island. It is free and open to the public. I hope you will come.
I’m excited about launching the book there, because that is where some of the key events in the novel take place. The description on the back of the book says “Almost to Eden is the captivating fictional narrative of an Irish immigrant, Maggie O’Brien, whose life intertwines with members of the historic Jekyll Island Club. Seeking a new Eden in America, she discovers that freedom and justice, even in the new world, do not always triumph over wealth and power. In the process of her journey, Maggie finds and loses the things she loves most, but courage and grace lead her toward a fulfillment she never thought to find.”
It has been exciting to work on this book, which draws on the research I have done for the past twenty years. It was inspired by a tombstone in the little du Bignon cemetery at the north end of Jekyll Island. I wanted to give a life to a young man who had lived only a short time. In the end, the book morphed into something more. It is a story about many kinds of love, among them a mother for her child. Every writer of fiction has had the experience of having the characters take over the story and lead the way. The book certainly went in directions I had not anticipated. And Maggie O’Brien, my main character, found her life taking directions she had not foreseen.
The book is a part of my own love story with the Georgia coast. I hope my readers will enjoy it and accept the invitation at the end to come to Jekyll and discover its magic.
For book club members: There are questions to stimulate discussion in the back of the book.
Where to Buy
Many of your have contacted me about where you can get a copy of the new book. You will be able to get a copy from your local bookseller as soon as the book is released, which will be in early May. Or you can order an autographed copy through Twin Oaks Press at www.twinoakspress.com. See also my web page on events. I”m doing several signings and talks in the coastal area in May, in Tennessee in June and July , and in the Atlanta area in August. You can, of course, also buy it online from places like Amazon or Barnes & Noble web site. In Murfreesboro it is already on the shelf at Hastings. And in the Jekyll-Brunswick area it is in stock at Jekyll Books, Hattie’s Books, G.J.Ford Bookshop, as well as at the Jekyll Island History Center and the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.