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Vanessa LaFaye grew up in Tampa, Florida, but but made the UK her home from 1987. She worked for academic publisher Wiley in Oxford, commissioning online resources. She detailed the impact of living with cancer in her popular blog Living While Dying, which was picked up in a number of media outlets such as the Daily Mail. She wrote two acclaimed historical novels, Summertime published in 2015 and First Light two years later, both published by Orion, with another recently acquired by HQ. She died in February 2018 aged 54.
Before A Christmas Carol there was... Miss Marley A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister `tomorrow will be better' and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price. And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart... In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope - a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.
A heart-breaking, provocative, and powerful story, with love, murder, and justice sitting at the core. This tale was inspired by real events that occurred from 1919 to 1921 in Key West, Florida. The story starts in 1993 when a 96 year old woman shoots dead a Ku Klux Klan official and will say nothing but admit her guilt. The explanation for the shooting begins in 1919, when a mixed-race relationship crosses boundaries. The prologue fully captured my attention, I fell head first into the tale, and didn’t draw breath until the last page. Vanessa Lafaye has created characters who feel authentically real and very much alive. The descriptive detailing set the time and surroundings vividly and clearly in my mind. As understanding grew, so did the tickle of fear and foreboding for what was to come. ‘At First Light’ is a beautifully written tale, one that prods and provokes and yet encourages hope - highly recommended. Liz Robinson
Longlisted for the HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown Award Longlist 2016. In 1935 one of the most ferocious hurricanes ever hit the Florida coast. This dramatic tale features that hurricane but in essence it is a tale of race, prejudice, small-town fears and hardship. The First World War is over in Europe. The black man fought beside the white but back home in America that black man is very much the second class citizen. When a white woman is battered almost to death suspicion naturally falls upon a black man. This is a dark, passionate tale peopled with strong believable characters who imprint themselves upon you. It is a love story, a murder mystery, a tale of human drama and a very fine piece of social history. An excellent read. If you like Vanessa LaFaye you might also like to read books by Kathryn Stockett, Peter Dexter and Ellen Feldman.
Florida, 1935. Heron Key is a small town where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp. Everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. Missy, the Kincaid family's maid and nanny, feels that she has wasted her life pining for Henry, whom she has not seen since he went to fight on the battlefields of France in WWI. Now he has returned with a group of other desperate, destitute veterans on a government works project, unsure of his future, ashamed of his past. When a white woman is found beaten nearly to death in the early hours, suspicion falls on Henry. Old grievances and prejudices threaten to derail the investigation. As the tensions rise, the barometer starts to plummet. The residents think they're ready, and so do the soldiers. They are wrong. Nothing in their experience could prepare them for what is coming. For far out over the Atlantic, the greatest storm ever to strike North America is heading their way...
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