Review: The Wolves of Andover

Why I picked it: Manic Mommies Book Club Selection

Synopsis: In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood.

Type: Historical Fiction

Quick Take: Recommend - After talking with a few of the MM listeners/readers I might suggest reading this book after reading The Heretic's DaughterThe Wolves of Andover is a stand alone novel but some of the comments our call to discuss the book mentioned not understanding why a few moments were in the book.

We had a WONDERFUL discussion with Kathleen Kent.  She talked about both books and we were all mesmerized while she described her research process and family history. 

The book discussion is available on iTunes (search Manic Mommies Book Club) and also available on the Manic Mommies Book Club page.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Source: Review Copy

Author Q&A:

Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in Texas and attended the University of Texas in Austin. I had always loved writing, but wasn't confident I could make a living at it, so I spent twenty years living and working in New York first in commodities and then as Chief Operating Officer for a US company doing defense conversion work in Russia for the Department of Defense. I travelled extensively through the Former Soviet Union, and greatly enjoyed the career I had built. But always, in the back of my mind, was the thought that someday I would write the book that became The Heretic's Daughter. In 2000 I moved with my husband and son back to Texas and, retiring early from my job, made the conscious decision to begin writing full time. Little did I know it would take 5 years to research and write, but I was fortunate enough to have the support of my family and to find my agent who got me the publishing deal at Little Brown.

What was it like getting your first novel published? What is your writing schedule like? The success of my first novel has been beyond my wildest expectations. The book is now published in over a dozen countries, including such exotic places as Turkey and Taiwan. While writing the book my only expectation was that I get published. I had no academic standing to gain easy entree into research library records and the most ambitious writing project I had ever undertaken was to write short stories and poems for my own pleasure. The things I did have were disciplined work habits, a passion to write, and some wonderful stories that my mother and grandmother had passed down to me about my nine times great grandmother, Martha Carrier. It was a wonderful time of exploration and I travelled to Connecticut and Massachusetts several times to get the feeling of the places that were important to the story. I still do most of my best writing in the morning, and try to write some every day. Every once in a while, the muse will descend and I'll write late at night, or have to pull over while driving to jot down some notes.

When you start writing, how much of the story do you have mapped out and how much is organic? I usually start with a general outline and character development. I spend a lot of time playing with the characters in my head until I feel they're ready to be committed to paper. The outline is just a loose road map, which is often changed during the writing of the first or second draft. The narrative path I've picked may turn out to be not right for the character to take, or the story line may not be interesting enough. There is certainly a lot of organic processing during the first few drafts. After the second draft, though, when I'm polishing the third or fourth draft, the story line and characters are usually set.

If you could interview anyone, who would if be and why? What would you like to ask them? If I could interview anyone who is a writer, it would have to be Annie Dillard. To me she is the most wondrous word crafter in contemporary writing. But, I think she is a very shy, private person and sometimes the alchemy of the writing process is difficult to articulate. If I could interview a non-writer, it would have to be Helen Mirren. She seems to me to be such a fascinating woman (with emphasis on "woman", not "girl"); talented, humourous, well spoken, and at sixty-something totally fearless about wearing a bathing suit in person. Now that is a modern goddess!!