Please welcome Andra Watkins, author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!
Enter to win a copy of the book below – open to US residents for a paper copy, and internationally for an eBook.
Reviewed by Nina Longfield
To Live Forever by Andra Watkins is a unique and sometimes surprising story. The novel begins with the historical notice of Meriwether Lewis’ death at age thirty-five in 1809. The story jumps forward to 1977 and a New Orleans courthouse with the child custody proceedings of Nadine Cagney versus her ex-husband Lee Cagney. Emmaline Cagney, age nine, is the main narrator. She is at the center of her parents custody battle. Her fate is left up to the court and judge, yet she has definite ideas as to what she wants for her life. No one asks her. When sole custody is awarded to her mother, Emmaline swears she will find and be with her father again despite what the judge had decreed.
Meriwether (Merry) Lewis is a Nowhere Man. He died in 1809 under mysterious circumstances, yet continues his life in 1977 New Orleans. Merry is seeking redemption from some unknown past fault. He’s on his thirteenth and last chance when he runs into Emmaline. She is his chance for salvation. He promises to take her to her father. There is another Nowhere Man determined to not only stop Merry but to obliterate him as well. The other Nowhere Man is simply the “bad man” to Emmaline.
Throughout her novel, To Live Forever, Watkins weaves back and forth from Emmaline’s to Merry’s points of view. Every few chapters, the other Nowhere Man’s point-of-view is also revealed. The switch in perspective leads the reader deeper into the story. Emmaline is a child narrator with a no nonsense view of the world around her. Merry presents a more puzzling view of events around them. And then there are the scary narrations of the “bad man”, Emmaline’s stalker, which are creepy. All three voices work to create a more profound story than one voice could provide. The reader knows why each character is doing what he or she doing, but the other characters may not know the purpose behind the other characters’ actions. This allows the reader into a kind of secret with each character.
With the shifts in narration, tension is added as the reader worries over Emmaline’s journey, whether Merry can protect and guide her, and a fear for what Emmaline’s stalker means to her safety. Andra Watkins’ novel, To Live Forever, is an intriguing read with lots of substance to devour.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Word Hermit Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.