Sunday, June 9, 2013

{Tyndale Fiction Blog Tour} Grace's Pictures an Ellis Island novel by Cindy Thomson

Book Description:  Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

My Thoughts:  This is the first book I've read by author Cindy Thomson.
This is a historical novel set in New York when immigrants where coming to America to find a better way of life.
Grace McCaffery hails from the rolling hills of Ireland.  She comes to America to succeed after leaving behind a terrible father and a loving mother.
Grace's mother tells her, "Listen to me, I don't care what lies your father once spoke to you darlin' . . . remember instead this:  You are smart.  You are important.  You are able."  (from the back of the book)  Of course as soon as I read these words of thought of the book The Help.  But this book is nothing like The Help.  It is about a young woman who goes out into a great big world with only her small brownie camera.
This brownie camera is to help Grace earn a living but Grace unknowingly takes pictures of local gangsters who believe that Grace got a picture of their elusive leader. And they want THAT picture.
Grace is torn . . . can she/should she trust Owen the local policeman who only wants to help the immigrants stay safely out of harm's way  . . . because in her life experience men cannot be trusted.
Grace longs to bring her mother to America, she longs for new colorful clothes and she longs to make a living by taking pictures.  But being a nanny to the children, cooking and cleaning are a huge job with little time left over or little money for "extras."
If you're looking for a fantastic read that is "a little different" than all the others and a new story line . .  then this the read for you!
*This book was provided for review by Tyndale fiction*

About the Author: 

I'm a full-time writer dedicated to telling the legacy left to us by those went before.
My cousin pitched for them in 1908.

I write historical fiction, genealogy-related articles, history articles, and short stories. I'm also a baseball fan. My favorite team is the Cincinnati Reds, but I have a soft spot for the Cubs who haven't won a World Series since my 

Q & A With Cindy:  1. What was your inspiration for this book, Grace’s Pictures?

When the Brownie Camera was introduced, it changed photography forever. What was before expensive and not very portable, suddenly became available for the average person. I read a contemporary commentary that expressed the concern that with everyone carrying a camera, someone could have his/her photograph taken without permission, and what an invasion of privacy that would be. That got me thinking…what if that happened, and at a time before there were very many mug shots available of criminals.

I love writing about immigrants because their stories are a part of who we are today. If not for their bravery and ingenuity, our lives would be much different today, and probably more difficult. 

2. Tell me about your main character, Grace McCaffery. Was her character based upon anyone in particular?

Grace comes to America wounded by her experiences of having an abusive father, being evicted from her home by the police, and then having to survive in a workhouse. When her mother gets remarried, to a policeman no less, Grace is horrified. In her mind, avoiding the kind of people who hurt you is the only way to stay safe. When she is sent to America to start a new life, she is not certain she wants to go. She wishes for the confidence and joy she sees in others around her, and she tries to capture it in drawings and snapshots so she can better study it. I know a lot of people, me for one, who would rather observe for a while before stepping out and trying something new. But historically, immigrants could not do that. They were thrust into change and had to adapt and endure.

Grace, like most fictional characters, is not based on any particular person. She is a conglomeration of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who came to this country seeking a better life, but without many options to support themselves. They must have been frightened at first by this vast new country, but somehow they overcame that fear and founded our American families.

3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?

A lesson that I hope is learned in this story is that God provides what we need, but many times it requires us to put aside our preconceived ideas. No matter what disadvantages we start with, we can turn things around, with God’s help.  

4. How do you expect Grace’s story to resonate with women?

Grace, a young woman who was not nurtured much as a child, becomes a nurturer. She is a nanny with a role that becomes essential for the children she cares for. I think most women are nurturers. Unfortunately, Grace had a far from ideal childhood. I think many women struggle with not having been nurtured themselves. Grace’s story illustrates the hope that God can turn that around, and even in unexpected ways. Grace meets someone who cares for her, who just happens to work in that dreaded occupation—a policeman. 

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?

I loved learning about Ellis Island, visiting New York City, and imagining those immigrants of the early 20th century moving along the same paths I was exploring. I loved writing about how the children Grace cared for helped to change her. History is fascinating to me, and it's a privilege to be able to write about it. 

6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?

I hope readers will be transported to a time in history when everything was changing at a rapid pace and experience a bit of what their ancestors’ lives were like. I would like readers, through Grace’s Pictures, to not only appreciate the sacrifices their ancestors made, but also find the courage to meet their own challenges—everyone has them.  

7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller?

Grace was at first a difficult character to figure out. I had a loving father who passed away a few months before I started working on this book. Grace, who did not have a loving father, stretched me a bit, but it was good to explore what life was like for her and try to imagine how someone like her could not only survive but thrive.

8. What is it about this time period in history that made you want to write about it?

New inventions were constantly popping up, things that we take for granted today. For instance, telephones were becoming more widely available, but immigrants were not familiar with them. Same with electricity. There was a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, and the middle class was the minority. Monopolies were not yet forbidden. The rich were extremely rich. The poor were extremely poor, and the conditions in the tenements were disgraceful. And yet, this was not overlooked. There were gangs and corrupt police, but also scores of charities working hard to protect, educate, and care for immigrants. And it was also a time period of huge numbers of immigrants coming to the country, most through Ellis Island, so in that way this time period has impacted a great many Americans today.  

9. What lessons can we learn from the pages of historical fiction?

The Bible tells us, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16, NLT).  Historical fiction uses the power of story to help us find those old ways. We deceive ourselves if we think no one has experienced the struggles we have. Someone has. Why not learn those stories and be led by them? 

10. What is one of the best pieces of advice or encouragement you have received?

I’m always open to sound advice. Here is one that has encouraged me. It’s from a tea bag quote. 

“A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.” ~Joyce A. Meyers
  • Visit Cindy's Blog HERE
  • Read chapter One HERE
  • Paperback: 7895 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (May 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414368437
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414368436

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit the two things that draw me to this book is that the heroine is from Ireland and that she uses a brownie camera. The first picture I ever took was with my grandmother's brownie camera. She took a picture of me dressed up for Easter, then I took a picture of her holding her Easter purse. I managed to cut off the top part of her head. I still have those pictures taken with her brownie. They always bring back fond memories of her. All that to say I'm getting this book!