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Yankee Daughters--Synopsis and Reviews

Book of the Week
July 10- 14, 2017

Jamey Grenville was in the habit of rescuing women. He stepped up to save a Pennsylvania farm when his future wife’s parents were killed in a tragic accident. He found a new home for his unmarried sister when a horrendous earthquake drove her from the family residence in Charleston, South Carolina. And he thought he had provided the perfect safety net for his eight daughters by bringing together a mother who loved them to distraction and a doting aunt to whom they could turn when they felt like running away from home. It might even have worked—if the two women had not been so very different. 

Katerina was an outspoken Northern farm girl, whose talents ran to cooking, sewing, and taking care of everyone around her. Rebecca was a classic Southern belle, most at home surrounded by books and music. Katerina’s greatest wish for her daughters was that they all would find handsome and generous husbands who would take care of them and protect them for all of their lives. Rebecca wanted to see the girls grow up to be strong and independent women, capable of supporting themselves and playing an active role in the world around them. Katerina looked back longingly to a nineteenth century in which values were strong and safety was promised to all who followed the rules. Rebecca leaned into the new challenges of the twentieth century, believing in the promises of the future. 

The stage was set for a lifetime of clashing values worthy of the feud of the legendary Kilkenny cats, who fought until there was nothing left of either one of them. Willingly or not, the two women lived in a rapidly changing world. Transportation moved from the horse and buggy to the Model T Ford, and dirt roads became paved highways. Family farms gave way to land speculators. Politicians quit arguing about government corruption and worried about prohibition and women’s suffrage. Uncontrolled financial panics yielded to governmental regulation. Social power fell from the wealthy upper crust into the hands of the middle class, and labor unions took control from monopolies. Trains, airplanes, telegraphs, and radio waves picked up the news from around the globe and brought it into once isolated homes. Assassinations, earthquakes, revolutions, epidemics, the sinking of an unsinkable ocean liner, and a war that killed millions of men demanded their attention. 

Two women—tied irrevocably together by their love for Jamey Grenville and their devotion to his eight young daughters—battled the challenges, sometimes together, sometimes from opposite sides. But eventually those daughters grew up and spiraled away from the family center. The girls found their own husbands—a quiet schoolmaster, a coal miner, an ambitious farmer, a psychotic evangelist, a bootlegger, a stockbroker, a hardware salesman, an alcoholic newspaperman. They launched themselves on eight very different life paths, leaving their mother and their aunt at last with no one to lean on but each otherWhat Amazon reviewers wrote:

What Amazon reviewers wrote:

Tis the season to curl up on the sofa with an expansive, engrossing, family-centered read. And what better to pick up than Carolyn P. Schriber’s Yankee Daughters. The third in her trilogy of the Charleston Grenvilles, this novel finds the youngest son, Jamey, farming with his Mennonite wife in rural Pennsylvania. Maiden sister Rebecca joins him there after the devastating Charleston earthquake of 1886 makes the Grenville home-place uninhabitable.

Jamey and Katarina’s family of six daughters – all with unique personalities and interests -- find companionship and entertainment with their aunt Becca. In turn, she responds to their needs and finds a challenging career in writing for children. The occasional pages from her Journal bring a warm and intimate portrait of Jamey’s family. While Rebecca warms to her new career and models a proto-feminist view, Katarina struggles with rebellious teenage daughters. She stresses the importance of traditional marriage and housewifery, but finds such arrangements don’t always work out. In following Rebecca’s nieces, Schriber brings to life the dramatic changes that transformed American society in the early 1900s.

. . . Carolyn Schriber has done it again! With her masterful storytelling techniques and terrific research, she plunges the reader into the world she's created, taking you along for a ride into the lives and turmoil of her characters. A compelling read I had a hard time putting down!

. . . Having read with curiosity the first two books in The Grenville Trilogy, both set in South Carolina, I learned so much history of South Carolina, [Although I have lived in SC for almost 20 years, I was unaware of many of the historical events. I kept "googling" events with which I was not familiar, only to find them substantiated in fact.] I was anxious to read Yankee Daughters, set in Beaver County, Pennsylvania (another area where I have had the chance to live). The author clearly has researched the periods and geographical settings of her writing. The reader is transported in time and becomes intimately involved in the family dynamics and action.

The Kindle edition of Yankee Daughters is available for only $0.99 all this week. Order your copy here: 

Yankee Reconstructed--Synopsis and Reviews

Book of the Week
July 3 -- 7, 2017

When the the Civil War was over, Jonathan and Susan Grenville moved their family back to Charleston, only to find that peace was easier to declare than to practice. The war that tore a nation apart might have ended in 1865, but the most important battles remained to be fought. The North struggled to resume business as usual, while the South faced economic disaster. Old state constitutions needed to be re-written before the United States would take their former enemies back into the Union. Old political alliances collapsed, and the party of Lincoln faced a decline into unparalleled graft and corruption. And over everyone hovered the question of what to do with the thousands of former slaves whose status as citizens remained undefined.

The following ten years gave rise to some of the most important constitutional developments in the history of the United States. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments would change the face of a nation, but the advances came at a terrible cost. In many ways, the transition would take another hundred years to reach fruition. And in the meantime, generations of black men learned that the pathway to becoming African-American was a dangerous one.

As the reunited country struggled with the problems of Reconstruction, the Grenvilles found themselves seeking new economic opportunities to replace the old cotton culture. Jonathan and Susan inherited vast land holdings that threatened to bury them under a deluge of back taxes unless they could find a new way to turn the lands into new revenue sources. Other family members decided to work together to meet the ever-present need for food by creating their own grocery business. And two of the family’s enterprising young people took on a challenge to capture, tame, and recreate an ancient breed of horses that had adapted themselves to living wild in the swamps of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

At the same time, the Grenvilles were swept up into political  rivalries and civil riots that churned their peaceful streets into battlegrounds. Family ties shattered as their maturing children searched for their own answers to the questions of how best to live their lives. One son took refuge in a separatist religious community, while another became an armed advocate of White Supremacy. Susan’s black cousins fought for equality and became targets of those who hated blacks. A daughter was swept into a romance with a black man. Daily life became a constant battle marked by visits from the Ku Klux Klan, threats of violence, and accusations of murder. 

Follow the Grenvilles as they navigate the difficult years between 1867 and 1877.

What other readers are saying:

Having grown up in another state, I was concerned about some references to historic events during Reconstruction in South Carolina. After reading sections, I researched the real events (i.e., in Abbeville and Camden) and found the book disturbingly accurate in historic detail.. I enjoyed the symbolism of the Sheldon Church ruins, having been there many times. This book explored some complex issues with characters of that time, including the acknowledgment of families of mixed slave and plantation owner roots and the conflict for transplanted Northerners.  —DC. Pitts

As a historian herself, Schriber is able weave a great deal of the low-country’s history into the story while keeping her characters interesting. As an observer of human nature, she gives Susan active voice and opinions within the confines of a 19th century marriage, and turns Jonathan into a much more likeable character than he was in earlier years.  Important Carolinians like Robert Smalls, the first former slave to be elected to Congress, and Wade Hampton, the Confederate cavalry officer who became Governor when the Democrats regained political control in 1876, play important roles in this fictionalized story. The novel’s conclusion finds Sarah and Jonathan again moving from Charleston with new ventures ahead. Can we hope for a third installment?  —Amazon reviewer

Yankee Reconstructed will feature a 76% price reduction starting July 4 and running until 8:00 AM (PDT) on Saturday, July 8. Get your Kindle copy for only $0.99 at:

Damned Yankee--Synopsis and Review

Book of the Week
June 26 - 30, 2017

These are the people you don’t read about in history books.

A Harvard-educated New Englander. He was welcomed as a teacher by a school for apprentices in Charleston, South Carolina. But when his history lessons about the founding of America clashed with the pro-secession rhetoric of local slave-owners, he was out of a job. Can he find a way to reconcile his abolitionist sentiments with the practical need to support his family in a region whose economy is based on slavery? 

A wealthy Southern belle. She has always believed that her ancestors were benevolent slave-owners and that they treated their slaves with dignity and respect. Now she has inherited the family plantations, only to see the institution of slavery come under attack as an unmitigated evil. The coming of the Civil War threatens her land, her children, her marriage, and the values that have always sustained her. How much will she be willing to sacrifice in order to help her family survive?

A female slave. She was given to her mistress when they were both very small because they shared a common grandfather – a fact that everyone knew and no one talked about. The war offers her a promise of freedom as well as the prospect of a bittersweet separation from her beloved cousin. Will the bonds of family stretch or break?

A Confederate soldier. He supported secession and eagerly volunteered for the Army, believing, like most young men, that he was invincible. And like too many of those young men, he was wounded and taken prisoner. The aftermath of his war experience left him with wounds far deeper than those that caused the amputation of his leg. Can he conquer the pain, the flashbacks, the disability, and the nightmares that keep him incapacitated and unable to return to his former life?

The newly-weds. The couple married in haste, realizing that the coming of war might mean a long period of separation. But the young wife did not expect to receive a black-bordered letter telling her that her husband had been killed in battle. Now she faces life in wartime as a widow and the mother of newborn twins. She can return to her family or seek to make a a new life for herself. Which way will she turn?

The children. Uprooted from their home and school by a series of family disasters, they face an uncertain future. The teenage boy gives up his dream of becoming a dairy farmer. With tears streaming down his face, he begs his cows to run away because Confederate soldiers are confiscating all cattle as food for the army. His brothers and sisters struggle to adapt to new conditions of poverty, hunger, and hard work. And they watch with fear as those circumstances threaten the stability of their parents’ marriage. Will the family stay together or scatter as their friends and neighbors have done? 

An educated ex-slave. Despite his free status, he realizes that freedom is just a word -- meaningless without respect in the eyes of the community and without the ability to interact on an equal basis with those who once were his owners. Will his freedom really liberate him or will it destroy him?

America’s Civil War was more than a political disaster. It was a human tragedy, and everyone – North and South, young and old, black and white, rich and poor – everyone was caught up in that broken world. Yet somehow the victims held on to the hope that love for one another could mend the tears in the fabric of their lives. These are their stories.

2016 Gold Medal for Historical Fiction

One reviewer wrote: 

This book is not an action-oriented tale of battlefield and comradeship. It is instead a thoughtful narrative, driven by dialogue between and among the characters as the war begins and continues in all its challenges and emergencies; these strains that the war placed the civilians, becomes the heart of this story. What action exists in the book is usually related in letters the family members receive from relatives and friends in the Confederate forces, or in local discussions of the events. The steady decline of food supplies in the South (the Grenvilles tirelessly tend their vegetable gardens to hold back hunger), and the inevitable decline of the South is told quickly in the last pages, which makes a nice metaphor for the painful defeat that no one wanted to face
Damned Yankee is a good tale of the war from the perspective of the overlooked bystanders who bear no arms but suffer equally from the ravages of the conflict.

—Terry L. Shoptaugh.

Order your free copy here: 

Second Mouse--Synopsis and Reviews

Book of the Week
June 19 - 23, 2017

You've heard the expression, "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." Which would you prefer? You are probably not terribly fond of worms. You don't even want to think about what the first mouse gets.

What does that have to do with self-publishing? Quite a lot, actually. The publishing industry has undergone something of a seismic shift in the past few years. If you follow internet discussions about traditional publishing, you'll find authors being urged to make the shift to e-books and self-publishing, because that's where the "cheese" is.

Perhaps so, but the shift is not an easy one. The self-publishing option is full of traps for unwary little mice who jump into the fray without the necessary understanding of what all is involved. Carolyn Schriber’s first self-published historical novel, Beyond All Price, was on life-support for nearly a year. Then it made a spectacular recovery, winning two book awards and remaining on some of Amazon Kindle's "Top 100 Bestseller " lists for nearly two months. That was her piece of the cheese.

Now she is willing to share her story. She blogged about her experiences, starting with the first decision about self-publication. She kept track of her success and failures. She offered snippets of advice to other would-be writers. Now all those crumbs of information come together in an anecdotal account of what she learned and what you, too, need to know in order to get your piece of the cheese.

Here's what readers had to say:

" I had always thought that all I need to do is write my book and hope for the best in finding a agent to help me publish. As I read Carolyn's writings, I have come to understand the importance of starting now to market my book. I am still not sure if I will self publish or not, but either way thanks to this book I am more aware of what I need to do and am now armed to make my work better overall."
Ed Hall on Amazon

"I'm not even sure where to begin! This book is so informative and fun to read that I probably learned more than I am aware of. Carolyn Schriber's easy writing style made me feel as if we were discussing these topics over coffee. She tapped her own experiences as a guide for other writers to learn from. Whether it is research, editing, grammar or self-publishing, Carolyn walks the reader through the the grit of it to get to the other, smarter side."
M.L. Olen  on Amazon

"Carolyn Schriber is a retired academic and an excellent writer. As you might expect from a respectable scholar, her book is thorough and professional. Unfortunately, her businesslike approach makes the process of becoming an indie author seem quite complicated and intimidating. Nevertheless, her advice is so sensible and downright realistic, I do not think you can afford to ignore her book"
Thomas Coterill on Goodreads


Get your free Kindle  copy at:

"A Scratch with the Rebels" -- A Synopsis


MAY 22-26

On a muddy South Carolina battlefield, a sergeant sat propped up against a hedge and tried to focus on the spot where he thought his leg should be. There was nothing – only the tattered remains of his trousers and a pool of blood that grew ever larger. The whistle of artillery shells had stopped, and the sudden quiet was as jarring as the previous battle noises had been. Shock had deadened the pain, so that all he felt was exhaustion as he closed his eyes. Sgt. James McCaskey had fought and lost his only battle.

"From behind a hedge on that battlefield, a young Confederate private picked his way through the bodies, following orders to gather up the abandoned weapons and tend to the wounded. Pvt. Augustine T. Smythe was stunned by the mayhem that met his eyes, particularly the sight of a soldier who lay with his leg shot entirely away. He whispered a silent prayer, as was fitting for the son of a Presbyterian minister, that he would never again have to witness such horrors.

"The Battle of Secessionville, fought out in the early hours of June 16, 1862, on James Island, South Carolina, brought these two young men together for a single moment. But the events of the Civil War had been drawing them together for almost a year. James and Gus were approximately the same age. Both were first-generation Americans, the sons of Scotch-Irish immigrants to the United States. Both stood firm in their Presbyterian faith, and both believed passionately in the cause of their countries. Both wanted to enlist from the day the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter; both had to spend months persuading their parents to allow them to join the army. They set out for their first battle on the same day – November 7, 1861-- and both missed the action by arriving too late. Both chafed at enforced inaction and longed to get into a real battle. Each of their Scotch-Irish mothers might have warned her son to be careful for what he wished.

They were just two soldiers, alike in many ways but different in the one trait that mattered on that battlefield. One was North; the other, South. Sgt. James McCaskey belonged to the 100th Pennsylvania Regiment, known to their comrades as “The Roundheads.” They came from the farms of western Pennsylvania, determined to defend for all men the Calvinist principles they most valued – self-reliance, industriousness, and liberty. Gus Smythe served in the Washington Light Infantry, part of the 24th South Carolina Volunteers. He was a college student from a well-to-do Charleston family and an ardent supporter of the Confederate right to secede from a political union that did not serve the needs of its people. This is the story of how they came to their opposing positions, and how the Battle of Secessionville altered not only their own lives, but the lives of all those who shared their experiences.
Review: "Schriber sheds new light on this bloody encounter by utilizing the words of the soldiers themselves—taken from official records, local newspapers, and diaries—to “recreate the experience of one small theater of operations in one short period of time during America’s Civil War” (p. vii).  Through her extensive narrative, which revolves around the experiences of two ordinary soldiers, the author provides an element that has previously been lacking in treatments of Secessionville.  This history with a “personal touch” allows the reader to understand events as seen from the perspective of the common soldier in addition to the vast divide between the reality of official personnel and young men in the ranks."
              --Jennifer M. Zoebelein, The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 111, Nos. 3-4 (July--October 2010), pp. 184-186.