Simon I. Perlsweig’s historical account of the lives of the author’s great grandparents and the communication between them shows a great deal of what life in Springfield, VT was like in the 1910’s. It is very possible that without this work, much of what Perlsweig writes about in Front Porches to Front Lines: One Small Town’s Mobilization of Men, Women, Manufacturing, and Money During World War One, would never have been pieced together. It is a real pleasure to be able to experience this slice of history. Simon Perlsweig does this astoundingly and it is clearly evident that he put his heart and soul into his work.
Perlsweig’s book takes readers to Springfield, and more importantly, into the lives of a couple whose lives were greatly affected by WWI. There was, of course, the impact on the couple in question, Lawrence and Gladys, but readers are shown how everything else in the small Vermont town was changed forever, as well, and to make matters worse, war wouldn’t be the only problem faced by this couple.
Historically speaking, this work is a gem. There is a wealth of information on virtually every aspect of life in the United States in the early 20th Century, and even when the familial part of the work is not considered, Front Porches to Front Lines holds its own as a historical text due to the attention given to the social, economic, and political issues, among many more.
The research is thorough, and the writing style employed by the author is academic, while at the same time being accessible to a diverse audience. With such a breadth of information contained within the pages of this book, it’s definitely a plus using language that is not too complicated.
Another aspect of the book that many readers should enjoy is the fact that there is a large amount of authentic memorabilia from the period, including recruiting posters, family photos, government documents, and much more.
Simon I. Perlsweig’s Front Porches to Front Lines, published by Husky Trail Press LLC, is certainly a work that should not be ignored. It is not everyday that we are invited into the human experience of those who lived through one of America’s most trying times, and it’s even rarer that we get such a personal touch as the one here.
Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07MY6GLD5
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Adelphi may be a small town, but it houses a treasure that cannot be measured. When Bill McFar comes to town in search of a payload, he finds what he wants beneath the Adelphi hillside: a source of petroleum. But McFar’s oil lies beneath something important to the people of Adelphi. On that grassy hillside rests a big wooden cross that represents the hope of the people, and inspires them as they go about their daily lives. No one in Adelphi wants the cross to move to facilitate McFar’s greed. But he’s powerful. And adamant. Will McFar get his way and uproot this beacon, offending the traditions and faith of the townspeople? Or will the story of the cross cause things to turn out another way altogether…?
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The Fool’s Truth follows Cordelia as she’s running from a dangerous marriage and finds herself wrapped up in a perilous mystery. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
A great question and what’s most interesting is, the opening scene in which a young mother comforts her crying daughter while calmly stepping around a dead body, came to me long before I started writing The Fool’s Truth. I had this image of a woman escaping into her mind, blocking out the tragic scene before her and acting as if nothing had happened. I jotted down that first passage years before the idea for the book started to germinate. I knew it was the beginning of a good story, it just took a while for the right characters to develop for the telling.
Originally, I thought the story would be Rebekah’s because her witch-like hermit character came together in my mind first. I loved defining her complicated choice (or need?) to live a secluded life. But as the narrative began to form, it became clear that Cordelia had to be the book’s protagonist. As a desperate mother on the run, her storyline would tie together the other characters, each with their own dark secrets.
Cordelia is an intriguing character. Was her back story something you always had or did it develop as you were writing?
I’ve always wanted to write a character named Cordelia, but had to wait patiently for the right story. When I began pulling together the plot and characters for The Fool’s Truth, I felt Cordelia was a good fit for the protagonist’s name. Although I always start with a rough story outline and ideas about who the characters are, writing is such a fluid craft and it’s essential the characters remain adaptable. So Cordelia’s story had to evolve as the story developed. I’ve never personally known someone who has been in such a desperate situation, so I had to delve deep into my imagination.
What experience in your life has had the biggest impact on your writing?
Strangely enough, my passion for writing fiction sprang from the eye opening exercise of composing my own obituary. I was a hospice volunteer for many years, and the obituary assignment was part of the volunteer training program. And from that experience a buried desire to write a book surfaced. I tentatively ventured onto this new path by establishing a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the heritage of some fascinating hospice patients who were soon to leave the world. It has been the most meaningful experience of my life thus far, and it both inspired and encouraged me to fulfill a newly perceived longing to create and shape unique fictional characters with their own remarkable stories to tell.
Cordelia ends up stranded in the backwoods of Maine, hidden by a hermit living off the grid who takes an obsessive interest in her daughter. How did this plot twist develop and why choose Maine as the backdrop?
So many threads had to be woven together to form the plotlines of the novel, however that development was pivotal to the story and came early in the drafting of the book. Because Rebekah emerged early as a significant character, her secluded farm became the ideal spot to strand the desperate Cordelia. I’ll stop there so as not to give away the motivations of either of these two central characters.
As for why Maine? It’s a beautiful and diverse state, both in its land and seascapes, but also in the people who call Maine home. It is also a state of many unique small communities and I thought it would be fun to create the fictional town of Murphy, Maine. But this question has caused me to pause and recall that the story was actually coming together on a road trip my husband and I were making through the state on our way to Prince Edward Island. I now have to think that trip may have influenced my decision to set the story in Maine, especially since it conveniently borders Canada, which is where Cordelia had hoped to find refuge.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that book be published?
There are two books I can tell you about today. First is The Lighterman’s Curse, which is currently out on submission with my agent. The story follows overly trusting Cassandra Mitchell’s quest to save her beloved family home in the fictional Cap Cod coastal town of Whale Rock. The Bluffs is a stately Victorian and legacy from her great-grandparents whose shocking demise still haunts the town, and perhaps the house itself. While Cassie deals with the emotional and financial fallout of divorce from her dream-weaving husband, a young nomadic couple wander onto the property and into life, offering welcome companionship and the answer to her problems. Until they vanish, leaving behind no clues and rising evidence they were not who they said they were.
Finding herself in the middle of a battle for control of the investigation between the local police chief and the information-keeping FBI agent who suddenly shows up to investigate the missing couple, Cassie tries to unravel the mystery herself. But she becomes distracted by the eerie sounds and scents of The Bluffs, which have now reemerged with a heightened sense of warning. And she accidentally uncovers some long hidden details about the century old curse cast upon her great-grandparents. The Lighterman’s Curse blends mystery, romance and a touch of paranormal to tell two interwoven tales of the Mitchell family legacy, one taking place in present day time and the other beginning in the late nineteenth century.
Also in the works is a novel I’m collaborating on with my husband. It returns me to my Midwestern roots and begins with a stunning deathbed confession that leads to the convergence of a disparate trio: an apathetic middle-aged New Yorker, a Midwestern thirty-something journalist and a young woman eager to escape her mundane existence in rural Pennsylvania where recently discovered skeletal remains have rocked a community.
On the run and desperate to flee the country with her toddler daughter, Cord Richmond can only turn to one person for help – lifelong friend and once lover, Ramon Alvarez. Their reunion reawakens long suppressed feelings, but once again their timing is off, as they must hastily chart a course for her escape.
A reckless detour in those carefully laid plans leaves Cord stranded in the backwoods of Maine, hidden by a hermit weaver living off the grid. With no means of communicating with the outside world, the need to craft a new plan intensifies when the peculiar woman takes an obsessive interest in her daughter.
Complicating matters further are the local sheriff and a nosy reporter, both with ambitions for uncovering the truth, each with his own private reason for taking refuge in the remote rural village of Murphy, Maine. She contemplates a risky strategy to flee her confinement, but is she desperate enough to enter the depraved world of a recently paroled convict with a long history of brutality?
Cord’s folly is the catalyst for dark secrets unraveling, placing her and her daughter in grave danger. She deeply regrets having lied to the one person who might be searching for her. Meanwhile, Ramon seeks to resolve the unsettling truths Cord has concealed from him. If only he could find her.
Posted in Interviews
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