Books

 

MargueritteCVRMarguerite’s Landing tells the true story of Marguerite Lossieux and Christophe Poulain du Bignon of Jekyll Island, Georgia. A widow with three children when they meet, Marguerite marries again and makes a home with her sea captain husband in Brittany, France–until the French Revolution interrupts their plans, forcing the family to flee to the Georgia coast and to a newly independent United States. Caught up in political and economic upheavals, as well as family turmoil, Marguerite experiences the ever-expanding nature of love and learns the importance of forgiveness, the inevitability of grief, and the peace that comes with a sense of place and belonging. Also available on Kindle.

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BoysOfShiloh_CVR_WPThe Boys of Shiloh explores the Civil War through the eyes of two thirteen-year-old boys, who meet for the first time the day before a deadly, two-day battle in Tennessee. In their unexpected encounter, Luke, a Confederate boy from Georgia, and Ethan, a drummer boy from Illinois in the Union Army, find a surprising camaraderie as they discover how much they have in common. Tomorrow, however, the new friends will find themselves adversaries in an epic conflict. Like The Red Badge of Courage, the book explores the fears and anguish of battle and reveals how war can bring out both the best and the worst in human nature. Also available on Kindle.

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Thread Box   “The Thread Box is a beautifully balanced, compelling collection of poetry filled with thematic and imagistic richness…. This volume speaks to the intensely personal while simultaneously invoking the universal, thereby revealing the consummate artistry of the poet.”  Margaret Britton Vaughn (Poet Laureate of Tennessee)

Winter Fragment

a dusting of snow on the roadway                                                       like flour sifted on the castle floor                                                             to catch a  lover’s footprints in the night

 

 

A Titanic Love Story

This book traces the life of Isidor and Ida Straus, both German Jewish immigrants who arrived as children in America in the early 1850s. Isidor s father, Lazarus, was an itinerate peddler i
n Georgia, but within one generation the family became the wealthy owners of Macy s Department Store in New York. A Titanic Love Story follows the Strauses life from Talbotton, Georgia, where an anti-Semitic incident caused them to move to nearby Columbus. The devastation of Columbus at the end of the Civil War brought the family to New York, where Isidor met and eventually married the young Ida Blun.

Ida and Isidor balanced the demands of business, family, and service to others and carved out their individual roles in those domains. A Titanic Love Story emphasizes their work together as a couple, focusing not only on Isidor s important roles as businessman, member of congress, and philanthropist, but also on Ida s contributions as an intelligent partner, the soul of the household, and matriarch of the family, as well as a stalwart supporter of her husband and one who engaged in philanthropic and creative activities of her own.

The Strauses were wealthy Jews within their New York community, and as people committed to the welfare of their family, their city, their country, and those less fortunate than themselves, they dealt with their own grief, illness, and
occasional brushes with anti-Semitism. Ironically, their final happy days in the south of France lead to their unexpected sailing on the Titanic.

Both died as they had lived, with dignity, honor, loyalty to one another, and compassion for others. The public outpouring of grief at their deaths, even by today’s standards of over-the-top journalism, was remarkable.

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Plum Orchard2013 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Best Novel.

Following on the heels of her critically acclaimed Almost to Eden, 2011 Georgia Author of the Year June Hall McCash once again delivers a story of hope and renewal with Plum Orchard. The saga is set on Cumberland Island during plantation era Georgia and centers around a remarkable woman known as Elisabeth Bernardey. Zabette as she is called was born the illegitimate daughter of a planter and a slave and was raised as the planter’s daughter, so she finds herself neither completely free nor totally in bondage. Plum Orchard chronicles her journey through the Antebellum South as she strives to live in two worlds while belonging totally to neither. June Hall McCash gives us an epic tale that spans a large portion of the nineteenth century, a narrative that explores both the darkness that was slavery and the light that lives within the human heart.

    Raymond Atkins,  Award-winning author of The Front Porch Prophet and Sorrow Wood

[T]he American South has been one of the world’s most fertile sources for fascinating stories and great literature. The tale of Robert Stafford, his slave mistress Zabette and their six children is one of the most compelling sagas ever to come out of the region…a deeply intriguing story of human nature. …Even those who have never heard of Cumberland Island will find it compelling.

    Charles Seabrook, author of Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses and a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Almost To Eden CoverAlmost to Eden is the captivating fictional narrative of an Irish immigrant, Maggie O’Brien, whose life intertwines with members and workers 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 grace and courage lead her toward a fulfillment she never thought to find. Winner of the 2011 Georgia Author of the Year award.

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JekyllIslandEarlyYearsFrom the foremost authority on the famed Georgia barrier island, here is the first in-depth look at Jekyll Island’s early history. Much of what defines our view of the place dates from the Jekyll Island Club era. Founded in 1886, the Club was the private resort of America’s moneyed elite, including the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and Pulitzers. In her new book that ranges from pre-Columbian times through the Civil War and its aftermath, June Hall McCash shows how the environment, human conflict, and a desire for refuge shaped the island long before the Club’s founding.

Jekyll’s earliest identifiable inhabitants were the Timucua, a flourishing group of Native Americans who became extinct within two hundred years after their first contact with Europeans. Caught up in the New World contests among France, Spain, and England, the island eventually became part of a thriving English colony. In subsequent stories of Jekyll and its residents, the drama of our nation plays out in microcosm. The American Revolution, the War of 1812, the slavery era, and the Civil War brought change to the island, as did hurricanes and cotton farming. Personality conflicts and unsanctioned love affairs also had an impact, and McCash’s narrative is filled with the names of Jekyll’s powerful and often colorful families, including Horton, Martin, Leake, and du Bignon.

Bringing insight and detail to a largely untold chapter of Jekyll’s past, June Hall McCash breathes life into a small part of Georgia that looms large in the state’s history.

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cottage_colony_smallDuring the Gilded Age, Jekyll Island, Georgia, was one of the most exclusive resort destinations in the United States. Owned by the most elite and inaccessible social club in America, a group whose members included Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Vanderbilts, Goulds, and Morgans, this quiet refuge in the Golden Isles was the perfect winter getaway for the wealthy new industrial class of the snowbound North.

In this delightful book, a companion volume to The Jekyll Island Club: Southern Haven for America’s Millionaires, June Hall McCash focuses on the social club’s members and the “cottages” they built near the clubhouse between 1888 and 1928. Illustrated with hundreds of never-before-published photographs from private family collections, The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony tells the stories of each home, the owners’ connections with the island, and their interactions with one another.

While quite grand by today’s standards, these homes were relatively simple in design, built to enhance rather than subdue the island’s wild beauty. The cottages of Jekyll’s “Millionaire’s Row” were not nearly as lavish as their Newport counterparts, but typified Victorian resort architecture from New England to Florida, ranging from Queen Anne to shingle to Spanish and Mediterranean styles.

After the Jekyll Island Club disbanded following World War II, the state of Georgia acquired the island to ensure its conservation. Once threatened by years of neglect and disrepair, the elegant clubhouse has been converted to a hotel, and many of the gracious cottages have been restored to their original condition. The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony is a fascinating guide to a unique treasure of architectural history, as well as a personal look at golden days gone by.

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The Cultural Patronage of Medieval WomenThe Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women is the first volume exclusively devoted to an examination of the significant role played by women as patrons in the evolution of medieval culture. The twelve essays in this volume look at women not simply as patrons of letters but also as patrons of the visual and decorative arts, of architecture, and of religious and educational foundations.

Patronage as a means of empowerment for women is an issue that underlies many of the essays. Among the other topics discussed are the various forms patronage took, the obstacles to women’s patronage, and the purposes behind patronage. Some women sought to further political and dynastic agendas; others were more concerned with religion and education; still others sought to provide positive role models for women. The amusement of their courts was also a consideration for female patrons.

These essays also demonstrate that as patrons women were often innovators. They encouraged vernacular literature as well as the translation of historical works and of the Bible, frequently with commentary, into the vernacular. They led the way in sponsoring a variety of genres and encouraged some of the best-known and most influential writers of the Middle Ages. Moreover, they were at the forefront in fostering the new art of printing, which made books accessible to a larger number of people. Finally, the essays make clear that behind much patronage lay a concern for the betterment of women.

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Preserved in a single manuscript in the British library, the Life of Saint Audrey or Vie Seinte Audree is the story of an Anglo-Saxon princess, who, though twice married, remains a virgin until her death. Her tale reveals that spiritual marriage was not an easy path to sainthood, particularly with an unwilling husband. The text is a fine example of what some critics have called a hagiographical romance–a saint’s life that borrows many characteristics from secular romance. Recent scholarship, thoroughly discussed in this book’s introduction, suggests that the Vie Seinte Audree is a fourth text by Marie de France, to whom theFables, the Lais, and the Espurgatoire Seint Patriz have been attributed. Written in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, the Vie Seinte Audree is published here for the first time in English, along with the Old French text. The editors of this new edition provide helpful material on the life of the historical Saint Etheldreda (as St. Audrey is called in Latin) and her Anglo-Saxon world. They also discuss women’s writing in Anglo-Norman England as well as the subject of spiritual marriage. In addition, they examine secondary sources that have focused on the Vie Seinte Audree. A map of seventh-century England, a table of proper names and a genealogical chart of the Royal Lineage of Saint Audrey are all included.

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From its inception in 1886, the Jekyll Island Club included in its elite membership the nation’s wealthiest families, among them the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Vanderbilts, and Morgans. Far from the hectic northern cities where the members tended their fortunes, this private island refuge off Georgia’s coast offered the wealthy a tranquil change of pace.

Bringing together more than 240 fascinating photographs, Barton and June McCash trace the sixty-two-year history of this exclusive retreat whose members at one time were reputed to represent one-seventh of the nation’s wealth. From the time of the club’s opening, members came to Jekyll Island each winter to seek elegant leisure, arriving on yachts or in private train cars from New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Capturing the lives and amusements of the very wealthy, this evocative photographic history presents descriptions of elaborate costume balls and playful outdoor parties; the Rockefeller clan gathering at water’s edge and J. P. Morgan lounging by the pool; Victor Astor’s “patented beach boat” and the Goulds’ private indoor tennis court; the Vanderbilts’ yacht anchored offshore and the imposing “cottages” built by individual members.

During their stays, members amused themselves in a variety of pursuits. In the 1890s they organized bicycling clubs and held races on the beach. Hunting was also for a time a favorite activity and the island was regularly stocked with imported wildlife–pheasant, quail, turkey, and bucks. By 1919, however, the game committee had dwindled to one member, and prime hunting grounds had been cleared for golf courses and tennis courts. The hub of the island’s social life, however, was the clubhouse, where members gathered in formal attire to converse, while drinking fine wine and dining on freshly caught game and local delicacies.

The seclusion that Jekyll Island offered was not impenetrable. On the day after Christmas in 1900, the country’s fascination with technology could no longer be resisted, and the sound of a gasoline automobile disturbed the island’s quiet glades for the first time. Despite the immense wealth of the club, it was not immune to the stock market crash of 1893 and the Panic of 1907. The club managed to survive World War I intact and enjoyed a “golden age” from 1919 to 1927, during which time it held its own against the increasingly popular Florida resorts. The stock market crash of 1929, however, initiated a death spiral. Membership declined steadily throughout the 1930s, and when the United States entered World War II, the club closed its doors forever.

Based on surviving club records, newspaper accounts, and letters and diaries of members and guests,The Jekyll Island Club chronicles an era when leisure was the preserve of the wealthy. For more than six decades the island, now a state park, served as a haven for millionaires. As one visitor described the Jekyll Island Club, it was “the only place of its kind in the world–and will never be again.”

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