I am passionate about inspiring people to live a literary lifestyle because for me, there is nothing like being transported to another time, a far off location or experiencing through written words glimpses of history or even a magical life you could never live. Novels have a way of allowing the reader to see through the veil of place and time as they chronicle imaged lives of real people or spin a tale of imaginary people in real places and historical times. Then there are stories that combine the magical and the mythical with the factual and the historical. These are books that captivate and sweep you up in their ethereal meandering stories, intriguing settings, and share the rich relationships of the characters.
This months Drink In Life Books title does a masterful job in weaving together legend and myth along with historical fact about an age-old American mystery. The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare is a beautifully written book with just the right amount of factual history and presents spellbinding mysticism while showcasing the importance of family. This novel should be on everyone’s must read list for 2023.
“Once there was a girl who always took a dare.”The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock
The story begins in 1945 as WW2 is beginning to wind down and Alice, a young war widow and mother is unexpectedly presented with her birthright, the deed to her abandoned family home called Evertell. Wanting to step into a future free from the painful memories of the past, Alice is determined to sell the property to make a fresh start and to finance her daughter Penn’s education. Yet, when she returns to Helen, Georgia, it is hard to avoid all of the memories and history she thought were forgotten. To Alice’s dismay, Penn is instantly captivated with Evertell and a handful of other locals who know of Evertell’s secrets.
”Before she even opened her eyes Penn knew she was in love. Not with a boy but with a place. All night she dreamed of the Sea. Never before had she truly imagined the seashore would have stretched so long and wide. Or how the water would sparkling crashed in the little white fits that felt like the reward for everything good she had ever done, and forgiveness for all the rest.”The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare
As Penn begins to explores Evertell, the vast farm and the riverside grounds that the dilapidated mansion sits on, her curiosity over the family lineage that she was never aware of begins to unveil secrets some of which are told to her by Sonder Holloway who has kept Evertell’s grounds for 23 years. As a childhood friend, Sonder is sensitive to Alice’s past, including the circumstances that led to Alice and her father abandoning the home after her mother died during treatment for hysteria.
As memories come flooding back and the tightly woven threads of Evertell’s storied fabric begin to unfold more of the history and mystery of Evertell and the family legacy of the family is revealed. Alice and now her daughter Penn are the descendants of Eleanor White Dare, a survivor of the lost colony of Roanoke that was settled in 1587 by Eleanor’s father.
What really happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke was still a mystery, but for the women who descended from Eleanor Dare have always known the truth because of a message carved onto a large stone and the contents of her cherished ‘Commonplace Book’ which had been passed down passed down through the fifteen generations of daughters who followed as they came of age. Within the book throughout the centuries, the women heirs of Eleanor had used the Commonplace Book as a place to record history, recipes, cures, and other valuable tips.
“My mama said it was a book written by women, full of women’s wisdom and mysteries.”The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare
Excerpts from the book;
“Their had been ink drawings of plants and constellations. There were entries about the weather and the changing seasons and birth of babies, all written in different hands by different authors over the centuries.”
“She had a book that belonged to the women in her family, padded down with the house. A kind of journal or scrapbook with poems and recipes and things. Their names are all listed there. I always wondered what happened to it.”
More enlightenment comes when you learn at the time of her mother’s death, thirteen-year-old Alice had been next in line to receive the book, but her mother’s death fractured the legacy and the cryptic ‘Dare Stone’ along with the history recorded in the book faded into memory. Yet with the return of the memories over a failed familial rite of passage involving her mother, Alice knows the commonplace book rightly belongs in the hands of her daughter.
When Eleanor’s book is finally found, Alice is forced to confront the realities of their true inheritance as daughters of Eleanor Dare and find the answers to the secrets of her lineage. As the weight of the losses that she suffered give way to first understanding and then acceptance, Alice accepts and embraces the changed forced upon her and realizes that even though hardship you can endure and find a new path in life.
This is a story that will have you thinking about for a long time, with its blend of history and family folklore.
The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare spent three weeks on ‘The Southern Independent Booksellers Bestseller List’ and it is easy to see why as the tale folds you within the pages of its story. With illustriously written atmospheres, Kimberly Brock’s sweeping tale exhibits wonderful imagery with each page.
The mystery, secrets, history and family folklore in The Lost Book of Eleanor Day had me staying up well into the night to finish reading, I literally couldn’t put the book down. Every page, every sentence, every word held nuggets of valuable information and touching emotions that addresses being brave, finding oneself, forgiving enemies while working on healing old wounds and the incredibly strong legacy of women and family.
“Look there, so fair, the Evertell heirs of Eleanor Dare.”The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare
Kimberly Brock’s The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare, has been an Amazon bestseller which has been featured by both national and international book clubs as well as included in multiple reading lists. I’m excited to share my interview with Kimberly which covers her thoughts and experiences of writing as well as how much historical research went into writing The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare.
About the Author….
Kimberly Brock is the bestselling author of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare and her award-winning debut, The River Witch. She is the founder of Tinderbox Writers Workshop and has served as a guest lecturer for many regional and national writing workshops including at the Pat Conroy Literary Center. She lives near Atlanta with her husband and three children.
Photo credit: Claire Brock Photography
Can you share a little bit about yourself and your career as a writer?
“I have always had a proclivity for telling stories and I had a childhood love for libraries and books. I love story in every form and I was always playing make-believe, writing plays, performing musicals in my bedroom and even for the animals on our farm. My siblings were long-suffering and often pressed into these performances either in their own assigned roles or as the audience. I remember keeping diaries and getting my first Brother typewriter. I liked to enter the Language Arts fair every year in school and wrote a lot of poetry. My first award was from the Georgia Poetry Society for a poem I wrote about our farm and I got to attend a luncheon and read it for the members. I never once expected that writing for publication was anything I could accomplish in real life and went to school for my teaching degree on a theater scholarship. It was only because of the encouragement of another published author that I admired deeply, that I ever found the confidence to submit a short story for an anthology. That piece was my first published work and later, resulted in my first novel, which won the Georgia Author of the Year Award. I worked for many years after that on my next book, also founding a writer’s workshop and retreat and later, a local literary festival, which I helped run for two years. My most recent novel sat on the Southern Independent Booksellers Bestseller list for three weeks and is shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction. I’m currently at work on a third novel set to be published in 2024.”
For writers, inspiration for a story can come from the most unexpected places, can you share what inspired you to write this novel?
“I grew up learning appreciation for history from my father and especially family history. I was also a very precocious kid and I think that’s why learning about the Lost Colony of Roanoke really interested me, because I loved the mystery. I’d never considered it for the subject of a novel until I was doing some research for my first book and stumbled across an unrelated bit of obscure history that linked the North Carolina history to that of my home state of Georgia. It was a woman’s story that had been lost, possibly silenced, and I couldn’t imagine why I’d never heard anything about it.“
Kimberly went on to add, “I learned all I could about the Dare Stones and took a trip to Brenau University to see them and I was very overcome by the emotions I experienced on behalf of Eleanor Dare. It took a lot of years and many false starts to finally write the story I wanted to tell about lost history, women’s history, the legacies assigned to women and those snatched away from them, and maybe most importantly how human it is to long for home, identity, belonging. That stone, real or not, inspired me to consider the kinds of loss Eleanor Dare would have known and how she might have ever walked away from the grave of her innocence.”
I imagine that you did some extensive research for this book, can you share some of the ways that you sought out information about this part of Georgia, what life during war time was like and the history of the lost colony of Roanoke.
“I’m not a historian. I’m a storyteller. I approached my research that way, for better or worse. I read everything I could find about the Roanoke colony and about the home front during WWII, in particular, Savannah, Georgia. But what I was really trying to glean were women’s stories and like the mystery of what happened to those Roanoke colonists in such a long-ago time, the research for this novel went in a different, less scholarly direction. I was looking at cookbooks, diaries, family Bibles, obituaries, and family trees. Where were girls, why were they there, what were they doing, how and why were they moved from one place to another in early American history? I wanted to consider the marginalized voices that aren’t always found in historical records, who had built the communities and homes, been carried along on the wave of colonization or buried beneath it. I was interested in how these stories make the American family story and take my characters home to the haunted house they were called upon to make a home. And from these scraps of information, some fact and some hokum, I imagined a history for generations of Eleanor’s female descendants, the Dare heirs.”
What was your favorite or most unexpected discovery during your research?
“There were wonderful discoveries throughout, but one unexpected experience happened after writing the novel when my daughter and I visited and toured a historic home in north Georgia that I only found after imagining Evertell. The Hardman Farm is located near Helen, Georgia, very near the valley where the inscription on the collection of Dare Stones claim she lived with Native Americans.”
Kimberly went on to say, “I was stunned when I learned about the house, that it existed in reality so closely to what sprang from my imagination years before I’d ever seen a photograph. I was so curious to step inside and see how that felt. But I was definitely not prepared to climb to the second-floor landing and come face to face with a large, dark wardrobe, my own face reflected back at me in the mirrors there while the docent explained that it had belonged to the daughter of the owner and that it was unique because it was designed to be easily disassembled and put back together, something known as a travel wardrobe. No spoilers, but such a wardrobe features in the novel and again, came from my imagination, or so I thought. My daughter took a photo of me at that exact moment and I love looking at that image.”
In regards to the Dare stone, what do you believe about it, is it real?
“I think it’s important to distinguish the meaning of real vs. factual. We may never know the factual history of the Dare stone and whether it can be attributed to Eleanor Dare, but I absolutely know it’s real. It is a real stone with a real carving etched into both its front and back sides. It serves as a desperate message from a daughter to her father and also a gravestone for Eleanor Dare’s husband and daughter, Virginia. It could very well have been an elaborate hoax to gain money and recognition using Eleanor’s story, not so different from the documented way she was first brought here as the daughter of the colony’s governor, whom they claimed to be the mother to the first English child born in the New World. (Fact or real? It’s left up to the person recording the story.) Even if we never know the facts about the origin of the Dare Stone, I believe it is part of Eleanor Dare’s story now, an important part of her very real legacy. What could be more real than that?”
Anything else that you would like to share about The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare?
“I know a lot of readers will come to this book with the expectation that it’s about solving the mystery of the colony at Roanoke or maybe a biography of Eleanor Dare, but it’s not a book of answers. It’s a book of questions. It’s about the stories that may or may not be true and what value there is in these legacies, how we tease apart fact from fiction in our histories as families and communities. It’s about women’s history and how it is shaped, lost and found, preserved, celebrated and influential, often in unexpected ways. It’s about the haunted house we live in as a country and how we set a large table and try to make a home of it, together. It’s about mothers and daughters. And at the heart of this book is Eleanor’s tale, which is really a fable about hope, about loving the mystery most of all and the possibilities that creates for imagining a future, after the stone.”
What are you currently working on?
“I’m currently at work on a novel set in 1959 on a fictional shoal off Cumberland Island, Georgia and a town called St. Constant where the lives of three women intersect as they come to moments of personal change. The backdrop is the long history of the area, both natural and human, and a mysterious collection of stories, both bound and oral, known locally as the ghost library. There’s a nod to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The book is currently set to release in 2024 with Harper Muse Books.”
Since we incorporate wine and food pairings with each book club title, I have to ask. Do you have a favorite Wine/Wines? Any favorite food and wine pairings that are on the top of your list?
“Right now, my husband and I are both enjoying wines from XOBC Cellars after attending a Brandi Carlile concert and ordering from the collection. We love the wines that we’ve tried and really appreciate the activism that these products support. As for food, point me toward the seafood. Any kind, any time and any place. Nothing makes me happier than shrimp gumbo!”
Photos supplied by Kimberly Brock.
“The unknown was powerful. It was the monster in the dark, the secret in the box, the poison in the wine.”The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare
Since the book takes place in Helen, Georgia, which is 6 miles from Savannah, I was inspired by local Savannah cuisine and a few of the meals mentioned in the book for this months recipes. Along with highlighting a rich mix of southern influenced recipes I also felt it necessary to make sure that the recipes made with simple ingredients like those that would be available during the ration limits of WW2.
America during the war, like many other countries, had ration limits, which meant that much of the food on the tables during this time was grown in Victory gardens, came from raised farm animals or was even foraged, both on land and in water. The rationing system aimed to reduce the consumption of goods that were in high demand by the military, such as meat, sugar, and butter. This was done to help ensure that there were enough resources for the war effort and to prevent inflation. Additionally, rationing helped to curb waste and prevent hoarding of goods.
There is a recipe in the book for Tomasyn Cooper’s Fish Stew translated from Old Norse to English and Alice’s attempt to make a fish soup but unfortunately the “Soup did not turn out!”. Using crab and shrimp, as well as garden vegetables and herbs, I hope my recipe for Crab Soup with Cajun Seasoned Grilled Shrimp will provide a good replacement for Alice’s fish stew. In the book it is noted that “As the pot simmered and the smell of herbs filled the kitchen house” and I think the same can be said for this recipe.
“We have a garden full of vegetables and a River full of fish and oysters and shrimp.”The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare
In this recipe I used PNW Dungeness Crab, which was in season at the time, but you can use any fresh or local crab that is available in your area.
For a book club gathering I love the idea of serving soups in individual cups or jars and with this recipe adding the garnish of Cajun seasoned grilled shrimp on top is as eye catching as it is delicious.
To pair with the Crab Soup and Cajun Spiced Shrimp I selected the 2019 Estate Grown White from Gratus Vineyards in California.
This white Rhone Blend with it’s crisp pear and apple aromas, notes of tropical fruit and hints of white peach paired beautifully with this southern comfort soup. On the palate this wine is crisp with a bright acidity, yet there is still a creamy mouthfeel and structure that lengthens the finish while slowing releasing speckles of minerality. This medium-bodied wine is a blend of northern and southern Rhône varietals: Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, and Picpoul Blanc and is available on the Gratus website.
An easy recipe for the Cajun Spiced Grilled Shrimp;
1 to 1½ pounds large shrimp
1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
2 Tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
Salt + pepper to taste
To flavor the shrimp, simply toss all the ingredients in a bowl. Make sure the shrimp is thoroughly coated with the seasoning. Thread 4-5 shrimp onto some pre-soaked wood or metal skewers with a slight gap between each one. This helps promote even cooking. Then, preheat the grill and oil the grates if necessary. Place the skewers on the hot grill grates and cook, about 2 minutes per side. The shrimp will turn pink and opaque when done.
The Cajun seasoning adds a fantastic level of flavor to the shrimp, with a little bit of heat that is not too strong. It’s a perfect spicy complement that just might make it hard to stop eating them!
From the book, the mention of fried chicken and “Imegine’s fresh corn cakes”, seemed the perfect match when I was thinking of an easy, make ahead, small bite for a book club gathering. Individually the mini sage cornbread waffles and Southern fried chicken bites can be made ahead of time and kept warm in the oven until you are ready to serve these delectable crowd pleasers.
I felt that the use of cornmeal would be appropriate as part of this recipe since in many parts of the United States during the war, flour was in short supply. The recipe replaces 1 cup of the flour with cornmeal which helped save on rationed flour.
“In the U.S. during World War I, the federal Food Administration encouraged substituting ground oats, cornmeal, rice, barley, potato and buckwheat in place of wheat flour.” –Save The Fleet, Eat Less Wheat: The Patriotic History Of Ditching Bread
Southern Fried Chicken
Southern fried chicken is known for its crispy and golden-brown coating and its juicy, tender meat which benefits from being marinated in a mixture of buttermilk and spices. The combination of the savory and slightly spicy seasoning of the coating is unmistakable and licking your fingers coated with the rich and slightly nutty flavor of the oil used for frying is a must. For this recipe I used a favorite from the Immaculate Bites website. The only change I made was using bite size pieces of boneless chicken breast instead of a cut up whole chicken. This is a fantastic Southern Fried Chicken Recipe.
Any Southern fried chicken and waffle sliders wouldn’t be complete without a drizzle of syrup or sauce, and I have a terrific sweet and savory homemade sauce recipe to share that is sure to receive multiple “Oohs and Ahs from your friends and family!”
For the Honey Sage Sauce, I used the recipe from the Honey-Sage Dipping Sauce from A Family Fest which blends together;
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or rice wine vinegar
½ cup honey
½ cup mayonnaise (I substituted the Mayo with 1/2 cup Sour Cream)
2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce (I substituted with sweet chili sauce)
You can keep the Sage Honey Sauce warm in a sauce pan until you are ready to serve it.
These fun individual Mini Sauce and Syrup Pitchers are available on Amazon!
Time to make the Sage Cornbread Waffles:
To create these Sage Cornbread Waffles I used the Delish By Dash Waffle Bite Maker, which is available on Amazon.
When all the separate components are done, you can put together the Sage Cornbread Waffle and Southern Fried Chicken sliders when your guests arrive.
To pair with this recipe I selected the 2019 Grenache Blanc from Gratus Vineyards which is a 100% Grenache Blanc from the St. Helena AVA in California.
This wine is incredibly food friendly and it shines with these Cornbread Waffle and Southern Fried Chicken Sliders. Bursting with pear, citrus, and a bouquet of floral aromas, there are also touches of pineapple that surface with each swirl of the glass. Notes of minerality and slight hints of oak are present in both the aroma and on the palate which only adds to the overall elegance of this medium bodied white wine.
Mirroring the aromas, a mix of flavors complement each other as you work your way through the multiple layers sip by sip. This wine has a wonderful elegance and depth that keeps you coming back for more.
Many people would say that dessert is the best part of a meal because it brings a sense of indulgence and celebration to the dining experience. So, why not end your book club gathering on a high note with a dessert that everyone will look forward to.
I gravitated towards making a Spice Cake for The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare because of then mention of a ‘cinnamon cake’ and a ‘spice cake in the book. Additionally, I wanted to make a cake with a lighter and low sugar glaze due to the fact that sugar was a rationed item during WW2. The thought of making a jam to top the Spice Bundt Cakes was inspired by using ingredients that were available in a Victory Garden during that time period.
Simple, easy and flavorful, these mini spice bundt cakes are an elegant dessert. The adorable cakes, made with this beautiful cake pan similar to this one from Nordic Ware, are finished with a warm spice glaze and topped with a homemade Pear Ginger Rosemary Jam.
An extra optional step is making a simple syrup to help keep the mini Spice Bundt Cakes moist while also adding a flavor infusion of ripening pear. I used ‘Hillcrest Orchard’ Pear Wine from RoxyAnn Winery in Oregon. I created the simple syrup by bringing 1 1/2 cup wine, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar to a low boil, just until the sugar was dissolved and then allowed it to cool. Then I dabbed it onto the mini Bundt cakes and allowed them to sit for an hour before frosting them with the Warm Spice Glaze.
While you are letting the Spice Bundt Cakes cool make the Pear Ginger Rosemary Jam (Recipe Below) so that it has time to cool completely before you serve the cake.
A spice cake is like a symphony of flavors, with each bite bringing a new experience.
The Warm Spice Glaze for the Spice Bundt Cakes is easy to make and feel free to add more cinnamon and nutmeg if you want a little more spice.
Directions: Whisk powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and 3 Tbsp heavy cream (or milk) together. If the glaze is too thick, add in the remaining 1 Tbsp of cream (or milk). Pour the glaze evenly over the cake. Refrigerate leftovers.
Taking the time to plan and execute a delicious and thoughtful meal can make any book club gathering more enjoyable. I hope that these recipes inspire you to cook and create a memorable experience for your next get together.
“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”— Harry S. Truman
Photo Credit – Brenau University
The first discovered Dare Stone, also known as the Roanoke Stone, is a piece of granite inscribed with mysterious symbols and letters that has been linked to the lost colony of Roanoke. The colony, established in 1587 by Sir Walter Raleigh, was one of the first English settlements in the New World. However, the colony’s fate remains a mystery, as all of the settlers disappeared without a trace.
The Dare Stone was discovered in the early 20th century by a man named Bill Eberhardt, who claimed that it was found on a farm in northeastern North Carolina. Some have surmised that the inscriptions on the stone are clues to where some of the settlers may have gone after they disappeared.
A total of 48 Dare Stones are catalogued at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, although additional stones were also reported. However, there is much debate and skepticism surrounding the authenticity of the Dare Stones. Many experts believe that the inscription is a hoax, as the lettering and symbols on the stone do not match the style of 16th-century engraving. Additionally, there is no concrete evidence linking the stone to the lost colony of Roanoke.
Despite this, the Dare Stone remains an intriguing piece of history and has sparked ongoing interest and speculation about the fate of the lost colony. The mystery of what happened to the settlers of Roanoke continues to captivate people’s imagination and serves as a reminder of the challenges and uncertainties that early settlers faced in the New World.
The Brenau University Website has some fantastic information for anyone who wants to learn more about The Dare Stones and their connection to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. At the end of The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare, Kimberly has also added some notes about the Dare stone.
Reading historical fiction can motivate you to seek out further resources on the time periods and people that where introduced in a recent novel. Often new discovers don’t stop with the novel in question, many times the novel is merely the beginning of a new way to look at history.
This title asks the question “what if the 1587 Lost Colony of Roanoke was not actually lost and what if the survivors left North Carolina and made their way to Georgia? This scenario has been contemplated since a series of engraved stones were found in the 1930’s.
David La Vere unfolds the story of the discovery of the Dare Stones and opens up new possibility that will fire your imagination and give you a reason to ask “What if”.
To dive deeper into what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke and gives plausible new answers to the mystery. Since The Lost Colony, it’s colonists and their fate continues to haunt our national consciousness, The Secret Token offers a new understanding into the first English settlement in the New World and the mystery that surrounds it.
Indian Wood: A Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island by Richard K. Folsom
From Amazon-‘In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh sent 116 men, women and children to Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They were to plant the first English colony in the New World. By 1590, they had disappeared. The colony was lost, and it remains America’s oldest unsolved mystery. Carl Bowden, a university professor, has discovered a document that may prove an intriguing new theory of what may have happened to the colonists. He made one phone call to a trusted colleague. Three hours later he was found murdered under the rotunda of the university library. Someone does not want the mystery of the Lost Colony to be solved and is willing to kill to protect the secret.’
Being part of a book club or challenging yourself to read more books this year means you’ll explore books even deeper while making new literary discoveries. I hope that this month’s Drink In Life Books title ignites your desire to read more and share your love of literature with others as well. You can find my previous Drink In Life Books selections here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this month’s Drink In Life Books selection. Cheers everyone and as always, thanks for reading.
All images and content copyrighted by Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.
Category: California Wine, Drink In Life Books, Food, Food & Wine Pairings, Recipes, WineTags: Author Kimberly Brock Interview, Book Club, book club inspiration, book club recipe ideas, book club recipe inspiration, Book Club Recipes, Books and Wine, Books Food and Wine Pairings, Cajun Spiced Grilled Shrimp, Drink In Life, Drink In Life Blog, Drink In Life Books, Drink In Nature Photography, Dungeness Crab Soup, Dungeness Crab Soup with Cajun Spiced Grilled Shrimp, Elaine Luxton Drink In Life Blog, Honey Sage Sauce, Mini Spice Bundt Cake, Mini Spice Bundt Cakes with a warm spice glaze and Pear Ginger Rosemary Jam, Pear Ginger Rosemary Jam, photography, Recipes for book club, Sage Cornbread waffle and Southern Fried Chicken sliders, Sage Cornbread waffles, Southern Fried Chicken sliders, The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare book club, The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare book review, The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock, wine and books, WW2 rationing in America