An accomplished and stirring tale from a promising new author of historical fiction.



The destinies of two indentured servants from Europe converge in the American Colonies in this debut novel.

Malvina “Mallie” Ambrose spends July 1729 alone and scared in London’s Newgate Prison. An orphan, she was raised by Elizabeth “Lizzie” Batt, a thief who used Mallie as a distraction while committing her crimes. When one of Lizzie’s schemes went wrong, both were arrested and landed in Newgate. After a brief trial, Mallie is sent to the American Colonies with other convicts. Meanwhile, in the province of Ulster in Ireland, Blair Eakins faces an uncertain future. His father is dead and his community is impoverished with no viable opportunities for him or his brother, Ronald. After hearing about work in America, Blair reluctantly leaves his sweetheart, Janet Ferry, and embarks with his brother on a long and dangerous voyage to Pennsylvania. Mallie ends up in Maryland, where she is indentured by a landowner named Bradnox to work on his estate, Prosperity. In Pennsylvania, the Eakins brothers separate, and Blair begins an indenture with a cordwainer named Jeffrey Craig. By 1736, a twist of fate brings Mallie and Blair together in the same home, and they eventually fall in love. After Blair saves Mallie from abuse, he devises a desperate plan to find Ronald and secure their freedom, setting into motion a series of events that threaten to separate the lovers forever. Zuno’s novel is a splendid historical epic with complex characters and richly drawn settings. The nuanced, well-developed narrative spans nearly a decade as it follows Mallie’s and Blair’s journeys to America and the difficult circumstances of their lives as indentured servants. The author’s sturdy, workmanlike prose perfectly captures the joys and sorrows of the protagonists as they struggle to build new lives in America (“Livid, Blair watched the darkness swallow Ronald. He could not imagine ever talking to him again. At the same time, he knew he probably would never see his mother, uncle, or any other member of his family. He felt like a castaway”). Although the tale primarily centers on Mallie and Blair, the myriad supporting characters have equally memorable storylines, including Lucius Groom, a man who recognizes and nurtures Blair’s musical talents, and Ronald. Setting is a key component of the book, and the narrative deftly moves from England and Ireland to Maryland and Pennsylvania.

An accomplished and stirring tale from a promising new author of historical fiction.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7341652-2-7

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Spinning a Yarn Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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