Friday, March 2, 2012

Louisa and the Crystal Star Gazer by Anna Maclean

Anna will be giving away a gift basket to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so comment comment comment on the stops! Just click the HERE for the tour list!

I cannot put into words how happy I am today to be able to feature this book - it is stunningly beautiful at last glance and I just knew I would love it!  Welcome, and I hope you leave this post with the urge to get your hands on a copy of it too!

About the Author:

Anna Maclean (aka Jeanne Mackin) is the author of several novels:  The Sweet By and By (St. Martin’s Press), Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), The Queen’s War (St. Martin’s Press), and The Frenchwoman (St. Martin’s Press).   She has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in several journals and periodicals including  American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications)  and co-editor of  The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton),  and wrote art columns for newspapers as well as feature articles for several arts magazines.  She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C.  She teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York and has traveled extensively in Europe.  She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie,  in upstate New York.


Book Link:,,9781101506141,00.html?Louisa_and_the_Missing_Heiress_Anna_Maclean

About the Book:

Gentle Reader,

In December of 1855, I found myself once again in Boston, temporarily separated from my beloved family, living as a seamstress by day and writing my secret "blood and thunder" stories by night. I welcomed the companionship of my dear friend Sylvia Shattuck, but was quite taken aback by her strange desire to contact her long-dead father through a medium.

Nevertheless, I found myself at the home of the city's most famous crystal gazer, attending a seance with none other than the notorious showman Mr. P T Barnum. But what began as an idle curiosity became a compelling investigation--for upon our second visit to the medium, Sylvia and I found she'd been murdered! And to solve the mystery of her untimely death, I first had to uncover the surprising truth about her life...

~Louisa May Alcott

My Thoughts:

I was immediately drawn to this story because of my interest in history, mysteries, and Louisa May Alcott.  I love anything set in the 1800s so this was right up my alley.

What I loved most about this novel was the writing style - it flowed so well and was so fluid from one chapter to the next.  As a reader, I like a story that I can follow simply and this was one. 

Louisa May Alcott is an amazing character, I am delighted each time I read something that is about her or includes her - she adds an element to novels that is not found within other stories.

Additionally, I was impressed with how much I appreciated this mystery - it kept me guessing and kept my interest, both equally important!  I would think a variety of readers would enjoy this novel and find it enjoyable.

This is a series book so be sure to get your hands on the rest of it - I am definitely adding them to my TBR list as well as adding this author to my favorites, she is fantastic!

Book Excerpt:

“I miss Father,”  Sylvia signed one morning as we took our walk along the harbor.  It was a misty cold day, and the harbor waves were tipped with frosty white.

    “Unfortunately, your father passed away when you were a child,” I answered gently. “You barely knew that long-enduring man, so how do you now claim to miss him?”…

    “My point exactly,” my companion responded…“I feel the need for a masculine presence in my life, and would like to converse with my father.  I will, with the assistance of Mrs. Agatha Percy. Please come with me to one of her sittings!”

    I groaned and jammed my hands deeper into my pocket, despite the stares of several passersby; a lady did not put her hands in her pockets. She did if they were cold, I thought.  Ship rigging creaked in the wind and bells chimed the start of a new watch, and I pondered Sylvia’s statement.

    Mrs. Agatha D. Percy was the newest fad in Boston, one of the recently risen members of that questionable group of individuals known as ‘spiritists,’ or mediums…

    “I can think of better ways to spend time and money than sitting in the dark and watching parlor tricks.  I would much rather, for instance, attend one of Signor Massimo’s musical evening.” The signor, a famous pianist, was touring the United States from his home in Rome and had decided to winter in Boston. He was giving a series of performances – performances I could not afford, since the tickets were as much as three dollars apiece, even when they were available.

    “Mother tried to get tickets and could not. She was furious,” Sylvia said. I could understand; women with Mrs. Shattuck’s family name and wealth were not accustomed to hearing no.

    “Look, there is ice in the harbor,” I said, putting my hand over my eyes to shield them from the glare.

    “I will have your answer,” Sylvia persisted.

    I  introduced several new topics of conversation, hoping to distract Sylvia from her mission – 

 Jenny Lind, the Wild West, a newly published travel book about France that was flying off the shelves – but each topic she cleverly rejoined and detoured back to Mrs. Percy…

     “Don’t you see?” Sylvia sighed in exasperation, pulling at my hand to prevent me from taking another step. “The spirits themselves wish you to visit her.  They put those very suggestions in your mind!”

    “Then they should put a plot or two in my mind,” I said, remembering the still-blank sheet of paper before which I had sat that morning at my desk.  Being between stories was an unpleasant state for me, when no plot or story threaded the random thoughts of every imagination.

    “I am unconvinced that ‘fun’ is the correct word to describe an hour of sitting in the dark, pretending to speak with the dead,” I said.

    “Spirits,” corrected Sylvia.  “The dead don’t like to be called dead. Such a harsh word.”

    Neither of us was yet aware of exactly how harsh that séance would become.


  1. I do love a novel that flows. Thank you for your review. I enjoyed learning more about LOUISA AND THE CRYSTAL GAZER.


  2. What a good review, Lindsay. A smooth flow is so important and the fact that the mystery keeps you guessing is terrific!

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