Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

http://files.tyndale.com/thpdata/images--covers/500%20h/978-1-4143-6843-6.jpg This is an eye-opening story about what life might have been like for an Irish immigrant to America in the early 1900's.  Grace McCaffery is saved from the workhouse in Ireland, where she has lived for almost half her life, when her mother marries a policeman and he sponsors her to go to America.  As she settles into her new home and new job as a nanny and housekeeper, she vows to earn enough money so her mother can get away from the cop she had to marry and come to America, too.

Grace has her hands full with three kids to take care of and a household to manage, but she finds time to get herself into trouble!  She becomes fascinated with photography, a new art form, and buys the new Brownie camera.  Soon gangsters believe she took a picture of their leader and she finds herself in danger.  Owen, one of the few cops who's not crooked, is trying to bring down the gang and look out for Grace.  When his father falls ill, he's torn between his calling and his obligation to the family business.  Will Grace learn to trust God and that not all policemen are crooked?  Which path will Owen choose?

The early 1900's really came to life for me while reading this novel.  I found it fascinating to see the attitudes that were prevalent toward immigrants and people of a lower class.  It felt like the story meandered a bit and I also wished for more of a relationship and romance between Owen and Grace.  I liked that the importance of what you believe about yourself is shown, from repeating negative things someone's told you to realizing that's not the truth. I can see that Cindy is a talented writer and I look forward to reading her future books in this series!

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Author Q & A
About the Author . . .
Cindy Thomson
is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast.
Her love of history and her Scots
-Irish heritage have inspired
much of her writing. In addition to books, Cindy has written articles for numerous online and print
publications. She is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and a
member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Sciety. Cindy
and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio.
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
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.
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’shelp.
How do you expect Grace’s story to resonate with women?
Grace, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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 helps 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
Check out Cindy's blog:   http://cindythomson.blogspot.com/


No comments:

Post a Comment