Laura’s Shadow Kick-Off Package
About the Book
Book: Laura’s Shadow
Author: Allison Pittman
Release date: August 1, 2022
Family Secrets Spill One Conversation at a Time
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Pastseries. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
De Smet, South Dakota—1890
Young women growing up in DeSmet live by two rules: don’t go out in a snowstorm and don’t give your heart to Cap Garland. Young Mariah Patterson only managed to obey one. Orphaned and having devoted her youth to scrapping out a life with her brother Charles, Mariah finds herself with no interesting suitors or means of support. Throwing caution to the wind, she seizes an opportunity to lay her feelings at Cap’s feet, even though she knows Cap sees the world through the torch he carries for Laura Ingalls. Mariah is certain her love for Cap will be strong enough to break both bonds, and she’s willing to risk everything to prove it.
De Smet, South Dakota—1974
Trixie Gowan is the fourth generation of living Gowan women residing in the sprawling farmhouse on the outskirts of De Smet. Well, former resident. She’s recently moved to Minneapolis, where she writes ads for a neighborhood paper edited by Ron Tumble. She might live and work in the city, but her co-workers still call her Prairie Girl. Thus the inspiration for her comic strip—“Lost Laura”—in which a bespectacled girl in a calico dress tries to make her way in the city. The name is a quiet rebellion having grown up in a household where she’d been forbidden to mention the name, Laura Ingalls. But when her great-grandmother Mariah’s declining health brings Trixie home for a visit, two things might just keep her there: the bedside manner of Dr. Campbell Carter and the family secret that seems to be spilling from GG’s lips one conversation at a time.
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About the Author
Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a four-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series, once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties and most recently for the critically acclaimed The Seamstress which takes a cameo character from the Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities and flourishes her to life amidst the French Revolution. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author),
Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.
More from Allison
I can credit Laura Ingalls Wilder for just about every aspect of my identity. I’m a reader because I read her books over and over and over again, checking them out from my little elementary school library. I can still see them—last bookcase, bottom shelf. During the summer, I checked them out from the Bookmobile, and one magical Christmas, I received my own set. The well-worn, yellow paperbacks have a place of honor in my office: top shelf, center stage. It was amazing to my eight-year-old self that I could pick up Little House in the Big Woods, skip the dull parts, and jump straight to These Happy Golden Years in a single afternoon.
Looking at Laura’s writing now (as I often do), I realize I spent my childhood absorbing the art of telling a story. Her books masterfully string meaningful vignettes within an over-arching conflict. She creates stories-within-a-story-within-a-story whenever Pa launches into a tall tale, and minor characters come to life no matter how brief their appearance. (Aunt Docia, anyone?)
When I first came up with the concept of writing a story set in the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I knew I couldn’t bring Laura herself in as a character. There’s a sacredness to her story, and I wouldn’t dream of inserting myself into the cannon of her pages. But—I thought—surely she had peers who grew up alongside her, classmates who also hated Miss Wilder, young men who might have set their own cap for her, townsfolk who remembered the vibrant young woman with the button-brown eyes and dark curls. And then I pondered further: maybe there was another side to Laura—a side that she kept from the romanticized ideal skipping through the pages of her books. My first thought was to create a fictional De Smet town girl, but then…
In researching and reading Pioneer Girl, The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I came across a bit of information that brought the story to life for me. In These Happy Golden Years, Laura teaches her first class: five students, two families. And while the “Brewster” children are documented in other sources, the Harrison children are not. There are no census records, land deeds, or any official documents to support the identity of Charles and Martha as they are depicted in the novel. And so, it clicked. If Laura could fictionalize these people, well, then, so could I. Thus Martha Harrison was lifted from those pages, renamed Mariah, and given a new life and a new story in mine.
Writing Laura’s Shadow allowed me to indulge in a few favorite directions. First, I’m fascinated with the idea of extreme longevity (showcased in my novel All for a Song), and creating a character whose lifespan stretches from homesteading to disco was delightful. My Mariah chafes at the romanticized depiction of pioneer life, telling us in her old age that it was really more of a daily struggle for survival. I also enjoyed exploring the family dynamic of four generations of women and how each generation faced the same battles and fought them so, so differently. Finally—and this is what truly speaks to my fourth-grade self…
You know that Elton John song, “Your Song” with the lyrics, “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words…” Well, I got to put down in words my lifelong crush on Cap Garland. Sure, Almonzo is great and everything, but I always thought Cap was more exciting. More fun. More…more. Bringing him to life in this book set my old heart racing. My research for this novel took me to De Smet, and to his gravesite, where I spoke this story to his stone. I like to think he’d approve, and I hope all of the Laura fans will join me in this tale and let their imaginations run wild.
There is something very special about a dual-time split book. You get the best of two eras and find out how they relate to each other. The author is a master storyteller and keeps the story flowing with breathtaking scenes. The characters are easy to relate to and made me feel part of the story.
Mariah’s story set in 1890 is a spectacular look at a time when a very familiar name arises. I have loved Little House on the Prairie books since I was a child. The simple life and farms they grew up on has always fascinated me. Getting to know Mariah better was a bit of history mixed with fiction. Mariah’s childhood was surrounded by school and her teacher Mrs. Wilder. Perhaps she had a little animosity towards Mrs. Wilder or was it jealousy? It’s funny that the story tells us that Laura wanted to be a teacher yet we discover she never really liked it.
The relationship between Mariah and Oscar were very sweet and I enjoyed how they slowly started to feel comfortable around each other. I liked how we get to see how Mariah longs for a husband but doesn’t really share that with her brother. She wants her brother to be happy in his new marriage and perhaps it is time for her to start her own journey. The author reveals secrets that have long been hidden by Mariah. What impact will they have on Trixie?
Trixie rushes home because she has been summoned with the knowledge that her great grandmother is very ill. What she finds when she arrives is a very lively older woman who wants to spend time with Trixie. To me this was the real story as Trixie soon discovers things about her family that was locked away for years. There are a few funny moments in the story which shows the author’s ability to lighten up a story at just the right time. With Trixie back home there a few to many in the house and their personalities clash. Poor Trixie is trying to find out the real reason she is here without having to endure the little remarks about her still being single.
Cam and Trixie have a past which somehow took them in different directions. Learning about Cam’s life now made me really like him. Raising his daughter has softened him and his priorities have changed. He feels it is important to bring his daughter to church and raise her in a loving home. I was sad that his mother was ashamed of her granddaughter but during the 1970s having a child out of wedlock was disgraceful to some. I guess they don’t remember the scripture, “Ye without sin cast the first stone.”
The story has captured my love of stories that go back and forth in time. I wanted to stay with Mariah as she dealt with a secret that made some people turn against her. I was upset with her sister-in-law as she tried to shame Mariah. But most of all I cried for the love she yearned for. The author does a great job of giving us a look at a story that was well known and capturing what could have been.
Trixie surprised me with who she came to depend on and I loved how the author focused on the special relationship of great-grandmother and Trixie but also a new beginning where Trixie finds true happiness. I’m sorry to see the story end but I’m hoping we get to visit these characters again.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 30
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 30
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions , August 31
Texas Book-aholic, August 31
Genesis 5020, September 1
Inklings and notions, September 1
The Avid Reader, September 2
For Him and My Family, September 2
deb’s Book Review, September 3
Simple Harvest Reads, September 3 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 4
Blogging With Carol, September 4
Betti Mace, September 5
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 5
Blossoms and Blessings, September 6
Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 6
lakesidelivingsite, September 7
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 7
Connie’s History Classroom, September 8
Mary Hake, September 8
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 9
Through the Fire Blogs, September 9
Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 10
Bigreadersite, September 11
Pause for Tales, September 11
For the Love of Literature, September 12
Labor Not in Vain, September 12
Remembrancy, September 13
To Everything There Is A Season, September 13
To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon E-gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Sounds like a good story.ReplyDelete
Laura's Shadow sounds like an intriguing and suspenseful book that I am looking forward to reading, thanks for sharing it with me!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Texas Book-aholic, for sharing your review!
Have an awesome weekend!
I enjoy dual timelines, and the references to characters from Little House are intriguing.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing, this sounds like a great bookReplyDelete
Do you have any pets?ReplyDelete
Thank you for a thorough review! HAVE A GREAT DAY :)ReplyDelete