Friday, 8 April 2016

Blog Tour: Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

A novel of family and long-buried secrets along the treacherous Underground Railroad.

The author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House continues the story of Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, whose deadly secret compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.

Published in 2010, The Kitchen House became a grassroots bestseller. Fans connected so deeply to the book’s characters that the author, Kathleen Grissom, found herself being asked over and over “what happens next?” The wait is finally over.

This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South. Pan’s father, to whom Jamie owes a great debt, pleads for Jamie’s help, and Jamie agrees, knowing the journey will take him perilously close to Tall Oakes and the ruthless slave hunter who is still searching for him. Meanwhile, Caroline’s father learns and exposes Jamie’s secret, and Jamie loses his home, his business, and finally Caroline.

Heartbroken and with nothing to lose, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation where Pan is being held with a former Tall Oakes slave named Sukey, who is intent on getting Pan to the Underground Railroad. Soon the three of them are running through the Great Dismal Swamp, the notoriously deadly hiding place for escaped slaves. Though they have help from those in the Underground Railroad, not all of them will make it out alive.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: April 5th 2016 by Simon & Schuster 
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

You know that feeling you get when you finish a book and there are just no words to describe how thoroughly you enjoyed it? Glory Over Everything was easily that book for me. It is probably safe to say that it is my favourite read of 2016 thus far. I did have the pleasure of reading The Kitchen House first but Glory Over Everything can be read as a stand alone. Having said that, I personally think that there is great value in reading The Kitchen House first simply because it was also an incredible book.

Glory Over Everything continues the story beyond The Kitchen House. It is the story of James Burton or Jamie Pyke as we knew him in The Kitchen House. James/Jamie was the child of a white man and his slave who was raised by his grandmother to believe she was his mother and that he was white. Glory Over Everything tells the horrific tale of what happened when his world fell apart and his incredible journey to overcome a lifetime of adversity, fear and inequality during one of the most shameful and difficult times in our history.

There were multiple voices in this book that interconnect and weave back and forth through time to tell the greater story. Although James Burton was heard from most frequently, many other voices including Sukey who was also know from The Kitchen House were narrated as well. Through all of the voices I was able to get a clear picture of what it was like during that time frame and what it was like to be a slave or a person of colour. Portions of the book were difficult to read and it was definitely emotional. There is no denying that it was certainly an ugly time in history and although a work of fiction it still tore me apart to read about it.

It was certainly easy to fall in love with many of the characters in this book. I was definitely a huge fan of Pan, Sukey and Robert to name just a few. For every villain there seemed to be a hero both big and small and although it was such a tragic and sensitive time, there were a few shining lights to be found. Some of the heroes had only small parts in the book but their actions were far larger than the book could encompass. I had many mixed emotions when it came to James. His character was not cut and dry. I loved him in some moments and hated him in others. His story was complex and difficult and my emotions definitely mirrored that.

As a huge fan of historical fiction, I found it difficult to put this book down. In fact, when life got in the way of my reading it was extremely frustrating. Grissom has a way of putting words on paper that capture you and I was more than captivated. Although it was an extremely complex time in history, she penned it in such a way that readers could easily understand what she was trying to convey.

This book is a book that needs to be read to be totally appreciated. I can't do it justice or properly describe the emotions I felt while engrossed in it. I would say that it was a beautiful book but I feel that is inappropriate because the subject matter was anything but. I will say that I felt just about every emotion possible while reading it and I felt them deeply. This is the sign of a really great book in my view. Glory Over Everything will stick with me for a very long time and it will definitely be going down in the books as a favourite of mine. Loved it!

About the Author

Born Kathleen Doepker, I was privileged as a child to be raised in Annaheim, Saskatchewan, a hamlet on the plains of Canada. Although we lived in a small, tightly knit Roman Catholic community, I was fortunate to have parents who were open to other religions and cultures. Since television was not a luxury our household could afford, books were the windows that expanded my world.

Soon after Sister Colette, my first grade teacher, introduced me to Dick, Jane, and Sally, I began to read on my own. I was a fanciful child and became so influenced by books that while I was reading Five Little Peppers And How They Grew I ate only cold boiled potatoes (the truth is this lasted only for a day) as I suffered with them through their hardships. After reading Anne Of Green Gables I was convinced that I, too, was adopted, until my mother told me to stop the foolishness and to look in the mirror. I had her nose. She was right. I limped desperately during Red Shoes For Nancy until my sister, Judy, told me to cut it out, people would think that something was wrong with me. Wanting to more closely experience Helen Keller’s tribulations, at every opportunity I walked with closed eyes until I solidly whacked my head on a doorframe. Enid Blynton’s Famous Five series had me looking for adventure around every corner, and when in class Rudyard Kipling’s, Kim, was read aloud, I couldn’t wait to leave for far-off lands.

Throughout my high school years Simon Lizee, a poet of merit, was our principal. He taught us literature and it was he who encouraged me to write.

Upon graduating from high school, as I saw it then, I had four choices. I could marry (no), become a secretary (no), become a teacher (no) become a nurse (yes). After I graduated from nursing school, I left for Montreal and there worked on staff at the Royal Vic Hospital. Eventually I married and came down to the United States. Throughout, I read voraciously and I wrote, often sending my work back to Mr. Lizee in Saskatchewan, who took the time to continue to instruct me.

It wasn’t until after I gave birth to my daughter, Erin, that I finally worked up enough courage to submit a short story to Myrna Blyth, who, I believe at that time was an editor at Family Circle. She sent back a lovely rejection note, telling me that this story was not one that she could use, but could I send others. I took that note to mean that she did not like my writing, but was being kind, and I foolishly submitted nothing further.

In time, I divorced and remarried, relocated to Manhattan, and there worked as an Ad Executive for a graphics company. I did not stop reading, nor writing, and over the next years took various classes in creative writing.

After four years in the city, we decided to try life on a small farm in New Jersey. When our collection of animals grew to include twenty-five Cashmere goats, two horses, three dogs, and two cats, we knew that it was time to relocate to a larger farm in rural Virginia. There we found twenty-seven acres and a large brick house, circa 1830, that once served as a stagecoach stop. But with the move came a glitch. For the first year my husband’s transfer didn’t happen as planned, and although he joined me every weekend, I was left on the new farm to manage on my own. It was an exciting yet frightening time, and I began to journal the experience. I joined a writers' group, and the Piedmont Literary Society, and when I met Eleanor Dolan, a gifted poet, she generously agreed to mentor me in my writing.

Connect with Kathleen

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