About the Book
Book: The Lady in Residence
Author: Allison Pittman
Genre: Christian Historical
Release date: February 2021
Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.
In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?
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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
From Haunting to Healing: How Stories Bring New Life to Old Ghosts
If you really think about it, every story is a ghost story. Not the floating spirits of the dearly departed kind, not bumps in the night or mysterious howling in the darkness—but the best stories come from examining a haunted heart. Memories that pursue the present.
A few years ago I took the walking tour of haunted San Antonio. It was a lark, a fun tourist-y thing to do with some visiting friends. I’m not a believer in ghosts, but I am a collector of stories. The tour opens at the Alamo—sacred ground of slain soldiers. The second stop is the Menger Hotel, listed as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States by those who measure and evaluate such things. And while the tour guide waxed on about the guests’ litany of haunted experiences (including Teddy Roosevelt raging through the lobby), my mind stuck with the story of Sallie White. Sallie White is the Menger Hotel’s most famous ghost—a chambermaid whose apparition is reported to be seen walking the halls, towels draped over her arm, or to be heard as an efficient two-rap knock on your door late at night. My mind, however, didn’t dwell on Sallie the ghost, but Sallie the woman—just a normal, hard-working, poor woman, murdered in the street by a man who claimed to love her. But for that, she would have passed into history unknown. Instead, her story is told every night as strangers gather on the very sidewalk where the crime took place.
Years after first hearing the story of Sallie white, I stayed in the Menger for a few days to gather details for The Lady in Residence. I booked what they call a “Petite” room—meaning it is a room that maintains its original structure. Read: tiny. Exposed pipes, creaky wooden floors, antique furniture—the only update, the bathroom fixtures. As it turned out, my room was directly above the place where Sallie White was murdered. One night I pressed my ear against the glass and listened to the ghost tour guide tell her story. The next morning, I stood in the exact spot with a fancy Starbucks drink, thinking about her. She lives on, not because people claim to see her walking and hear her knocking in the dead of night, but because she is a woman remembered.
So, is that beautiful? Is it ghoulish? Maybe it’s both, but when I was given the chance to write a story set in and around the Menger Hotel, I was determined to make Sallie White’s story a part of it. I didn’t want to write her story—that would have required embellishment beyond those few historic, factual tid-bits that such a woman left behind. Sallie White didn’t have correspondence to catalog or a journal to give us insight to her thoughts. Instead, I wanted to tell it to readers everywhere who might never make it to San Antonio to hear it for themselves. When you read The Lady in Residence, you are going to hear the true story of Sallie White, all of it taken from a newspaper account of the time. And then, I did what all historical writers do…I folded it into my own tale and folded that tale into another.
That’s really the joy of writing a split-time novel—being able to draw back and shoot a narrative-arrow straight through the hearts of two stories, threading them together, to bring a haunting to a place of healing.
I love time slip stories because it gives me a glance into the past as I watch it connect to the present. I read the author’s notes at the end and appreciate how much research she did. I have been to San Antonio many times but have not heard of the Menger Hotel. I am going to make sure on my next visit that I will make sure I visit the place that was front and center in the story.
I also was surprised to find out that one of the characters was about a real person. I’m not giving away who that is, but oh what a tragic life they had. I love how the author weaved a beautiful story from a tragic event. Her imagination gives readers a ghost that seemed so real. I loved both time periods but I have to say I enjoyed the past so much more. Hedda was my favorite character in the book. She lived a life that was lonely and had very few friends. I understand the title so much more after reading the book. Hedda came upon hard times and became a reclusive woman who never ventured out of the hotel. Her encounter with a ghost made others think she was crazy.
As we go to the present we meet Dini and Quin. Their connection was intriguing and I liked how they methodically unraveled the mystery. The more time they spent together, the more their attraction grew. I really didn’t like Dini’s job as a magician. I couldn’t quite get why she chose that job except for the fact it was something that generations before her had done as well. She seemed a bit scattered at times and I never was able to connect with her.
Quin was a good character and with his connection to Hedda via a relative, it sparked interest between him and Dini. The author does a good job of giving clues to where the story was going and I loved how it all came together. Although it did wrap up nicely, I wanted a little more. I wanted more of Hedda and her struggles. I wanted to stay in the past because for me that was where the meat of the story was. The story does make me think of how important each person is. As we find out how a life was taken in a horrific way, I thought of how that tragedy changed many lives. Each of us is here for a reason and in the story Hedda comes to understand that her purpose was to finally forgive those who had treated her unkindly and to finally grasp thst she is important.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Lady in Residence!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.