Books by Shirley Streshinsky

Released: Oct. 1, 1993

Fiction writer Streshinsky (The Shores of Paradise, 1991, etc.) brings her storytelling skills to bear on this accomplished biography of the famous painter of birds. Audubon (1778-1851), a prolific letter-writer and journal- keeper, left an enormous paper trail; although much of it was destroyed by a protective granddaughter, the remaining papers are rich in detail. Drawing on them, Streshinsky tell us that the artist emigrated to America from France in 1803 at the age of 18 and promptly fell in love with both the American wilderness and Lucy Bakewell, his future wife. By the early 1820's, as a failed businessman but expert woodsman, naturalist, and artist, he launched his plan to publish a book illustrating all the birds of America. He roamed the wilderness for several years and, by 1826, had sufficient paintings to go to England in search of a publisher. Audubon traveled through England, Scotland, and France, selling subscriptions to the proposed book, working with the engravers and colorists who reproduced his paintings, and painting furiously. Publication of The Birds of America and his Ornithological Biography brought him recognition and a measure of financial security, though he died before completing the illustrations for The Quadrupeds of America. Streshinsky quotes liberally from Audubon's writings, especially from his journals of the 1820's, when he was separated from his family. The picture that emerges is of a charming, hard-working, sometimes vain and petulant man with a intense love of nature. Surprising to many will be his letters from England begging that newly discovered birds be preserved in whiskey and shipped across the Atlantic to him. A well-modulated biography filled with details of frontier America, 19th-century publishing, scientific and artistic rivalries, and the striking differences between the cultures of the Old and New Worlds. (Sixteen pages of photographs—not seen) Read full book review >
Released: July 17, 1991

Like Streshinsky's others (Gift of the Golden Mountain, 1988, etc.): a hefty, quietly narrated, years-spanning tale of love and loss in a rousing setting. Here, the destinies of two women, orphaned in childhood, are entwined with cross-cultural turmoil and the death throes of an independent Hawaii during the years from 1898 to WW I. True Lindstrom, who witnessed the murder of her mother, and gentle half-Hawaiian, half-white Martha Moon, abandoned as a newborn, will meet in a kindly home for unwanted children and, with the dwarf Liko, form a friendship that will last lifelong. Later the tight trio will welcome another—the elegant child Princess Kaiulani (one of the several real people here; the princess was third in line to the throne of Hawaii, although she, like Martha, was only half-Hawaiian). While Monarchists, Reformers, and the ``Missionary Boys'' (descendants of missionaries bent on control of the islands) contend for the body and soul of Hawaii, the four friends mature and wade into trouble and woe. True loses the love of her life to a stupid marriage, but makes a strange one of her own to protect her unborn child by her lover; Liko secretly cherishes a love that dare not speak its name; and Martha haplessly hopes for love and career. Poor Princess Kaiulani will never occupy a throne. It's only after tragic deaths, a period of bitterness, injustice, even violence over control of a ranch, and mistakes all around, that all find love or a kind of peace. A chatty saga (perhaps a bit long-winded) with convincing appreciations of the history and culture of Hawaii. Read full book review >