Author Tracy Chevalier’s new book

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International bestselling author to visit Hudson library

Author Tracy Chevalier discusses her latest historical novel at the Hudson library

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: January 25, 2017 12:00 AMhh-orchard-ppbk-cover

HUDSON — An international bestselling author will discuss her latest book about a pioneer family living and struggling on the American frontier, set in Northwest Ohio.

Tracy Chevalier returns to the Hudson Library & Historical Society to discuss “At the Edge of the Orchard” at 7 p.m. Feb. 1.

Chevalier is the author of eight historical novels, including the international bestseller “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which has sold more than 5 million copies and been made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth.

American by birth, British by geography, she lives in London with her husband, son and cat. She is also the editor of “Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre.”

Chevalier is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has honorary doctorates from her alma maters Oberlin College and the University of East Anglia.

“I am always amazed at how close nature is to us in the US,” Chevalier said. “You think it’s tamed, and then a bear steps out, or a river rises, or a lightening strike starts a forest fire, or whales appear offshore, or mosquitoes swarm you in a swamp. Then you feel connected to the past, because this is exactly what your ancestors felt.”

The book, “At the Edge of the Orchard,” is about the desire to move around to escape problems, Chevalier said. A boy witnesses something awful in his family, and he goes west to get away from it. When he reaches the Pacific ocean, he can’t run anymore and must face his problems.

Chevalier does a lot of hands on research in addition to reading books on the topic.

She walked the Black Swamp, ate apples, learned to graft apple trees and walked among giant sequoias.

“I think the most surprising thing I learned was that sequoias actually need fire to propagate,” she said.

Chevalier also includes historical figures John Chapam (Johnny Appleseed) and William Lobb, a plant collector in her novel.

“I like having real people in fiction; they anchor a story, and make what is made up feel more real,” Chevalier said.

During her research Chevalier reread the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and “Pioneer Girl,” a non-fiction account of Wilder’s life.

“It was fascinating to see how she took her real life and fictionalized it, emphasizing some things while cutting parts that didn’t work,” Chevalier said.

Although Chevalier writes to entertain and hopes the reader cares about the characters, “At the Edge of the Orchard” has a message “to ask readers to look at the landscape around them — especially trees — and ask how it reflects their lives. What choices to they make, to move or to stay, based on their surroundings?”

Copies of “At the Edge of the Orchard” will be available for purchase and signing courtesy of the Learned Owl Book Shop.

Register for this free program online at or call 330-653-6658 ext. 1010.


Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP


Author Tracy Thomas writes about Stanton’s impact on women’s rights

19th Century woman paved way for modern rights for all women

Local author examines Stanton’s views on women’s equality, family issues

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: January 22, 2017 12:00 AM

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HUDSON — Modern women may have had their ideas about family and equality introduced by a 19th century woman.hh-stanton-book-cover

Tracy A. Thomas, professor of law at the University of Akron School of Law for 18 years and the director of the Center for Constitutional Law, will discuss her new book, “Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foundations of Family Law” at the Hudson Library & Historical Society Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

The book examines Stanton’s views on women’s equality in marriage, divorce, domestic violence, childcare and other family issues.

Historians have written Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s biography, detailed her campaign for woman’s suffrage, documented her partnership with Susan B. Anthony and compiled all of her extensive writings and papers.

Stanton herself was a prolific author, including; her autobiography, “History of Woman Suffrage” and “Woman’s Bible.” Despite Stanton’s body of work, scholars and feminists continue to find new and insightful ways to re-examine Stanton and her impact on women’s rights and history.

But for a time Stanton’s writings were omitted from the women’s rights movement.

When Thomas heard of a reference about Stanton in family law and looked it up, she couldn’t find anything more than one sentence referencing Stanton. But she found 10,000 documents talking about the topic.

“There’s a huge gap in our common understanding of history and law,” Thomas said. “I wanted to correct the legal and historical record.”

Thomas extends the discussion of Stanton’s impact on modern-day feminism by analyzing her intellectual contributions to — and personal experiences with — family law.

Throughout her 50-year career, Stanton emphasized reform of the private sphere of the family as central to achieving women’s equality.

Another reason Thomas wrote the book is to bring women’s historical experiences into the mainstream and show that women were an active part of the women’s movements beyond the right to vote.

“Stanton was a prolific writer in New York and left a huge paper trail,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t hidden. It was intentionally left out.”

By weaving together law, feminist theory and history, Thomas explores Stanton’s little-examined philosophies on and proposals for women’s equality in marriage, divorce and family and reveals that the campaigns for equal gender roles in the family that came to the fore in the 1960s and ’70s had 19th-century roots.

Thomas, who teaches divorce history, said many think women didn’t become interested until 1972 about divorce, but women in the 19th century wanted to escape abusive spouses and claim their economic rights to own and control their own property.

“We have to get the story correct,” Thomas said.

Using feminist legal theory as a lens to interpret Stanton’s political, legal and personal work on the family, Thomas argues that Stanton’s positions on divorce, working mothers, domestic violence, childcare and many other topics were strikingly progressive for her time, providing significant parallels from which to gauge the social and legal policy issues confronting women in marriage and the family today.

Stanton advocated reform from the beginning of the Women’s Rights movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls convention with 17 other reforms besides the right to vote. Some of the other reforms included joint property rights instead of the husband owning everything, mothers should have custody of their children instead of only the father, who could hire children out to work, and women should control sex and reproductive rights.

“She took on the marriage idea that the husband was in charge and she wanted equal partnerships,” Thomas said. “Stanton wanted to go to the heart of about how we think about marriage.”

She got into trouble with the church, which claimed women were cursed and should be subservient to men, Thomas said. Fundamental churches did not embrace Stanton’s true equality of marriage partners.

“They (women) heard every week they don’t have these rights,” Thomas said.

Some people were afraid that if women had all these rights, men would have no responsibilities and women would have to work, Thomas said. Stanton’s solution was that women should work.

“You had to have equal economic power to have social and religious equality,” Thomas said. “Equal partners means equal respect toward careers and raising children.”

Thomas teaches Remedies, Women’s Legal History, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Family Law at the University of Akron. She is the Seiberling Chair of Constitutional Law and from 2007 to 2009, she served as director of Faculty Research.

Thomas received her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Miami University, M.P.A. degree from California State University and J.D. degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif and production editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Journal.

Copies of Thomas’s book will be available for purchase and signing courtesy of the Learned Owl Book Shop. Register for this free program at or call 330-653-6658 ext. 1010.


Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP



New TV show Timeless

Instead of books, I’m going to talk about a new television show, “Timeless” on Monday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC.  It went on winter hiatus but should be returning soon.

I love history, which is why I write historical romance, so I enjoy the premise of time travel.

The Time Tunnel was a sci-fi television show in 1966 and 1967 with James Darren and Robert Colbert who are lost in time and bounce from one historical event to another trying to return to 1968 (which was not a good year).

In “Timeless” historian Lucy (Abigail Spencer), special agent Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and time machine expert Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) travel through time in a prototype machine after terrorist Garcia (Goran Visnjic) steals the one in the lab.  The team of three go back to stop Garcia from changing the past and therefore the future.  Ultimately they fail and the future is changed for better and worse.

But how often can the future be changed?  And when her mother asks why Lucy isn’t wearing her engagement ring, is there another Lucy in the present wearing one?

I liked the characters, even Garcia, who may not be as bad as he appears.  He had a notebook belonging to Lucy that he was using as a guide.  Also the lab owner is using Rufus to spy on Lucy and Garcia, and he kept his project a secret from the government.  Suspicious guy.

There are plenty of questions to keep viewers tuning into find out what is going to happen next.

I think their time travel rules will cause problems, though.  They insist a person can’t travel into a time where they existed, and they can’t travel back to a time they just left to avoid meeting themselves.  In other words, they only have one chance to fix Garcia’s chaos.  Once they return to the present, they can’t go back and try again.

This is different from the Back to the Future time travel stories and even in the Time Tunnel, Tony met a younger version of himself (if I remember correctly).

Do you have a favorite new show and what makes it interesting?

I also have questions about the notebook Garcia possessed.  He said Lucy hadn’t written it yet, so is he from the future?  What do you think?

After watching a few episodes, I also think it will have elements of “Lost” with the secret society bent on controlling the characters and maintaining power.


Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca

Local Hudson author Brad Ricca shares story about “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” and a true story about a 1917 missing girl in the Hudson Hub-Times 

Local author shares story about ‘Mrs. Sherlock Holmes’

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: January 11, 2017 12:00

51rina4lxbl-_sy346_HUDSON — If Sherlock Holmes were a woman, she would have been Mary Grace Humiston.

Author Brad Ricca will discuss his latest book, “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation” on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Hudson Library & Historical Society. St. Martin’s publisher released the book Jan. 3.

Ricca will share the fascinating true story of Mary Grace Humiston, known as “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes,” a detective and lawyer who became the first female U.S. district attorney and was made the first female consulting detective to the New York Police Department after solving a notorious cold case.

Ricca provides accounts of Humistan’s earlier work involving long trips, research and personal danger, which is shared in the earlier sections of the book.

Humistan intervenes on behalf of a woman convicted of murdering an abuser in New Jersey and travels to the South as a Special United States District Attorney to uncover the practice of slavery “through forced debt.”

In the book Ricca focuses on Humistan’s most spectacular case, the tragic disappearance of 18-year-old Ruth Cruger, who left her Manhattan home February 1917 and never returned after having her ice skates sharpened at a neighborhood shop in Harlem. Hunistan becomes involved in the search for Cruger after police dismiss Ruth as a runaway.

Many of Humistan’s cases involved the disappearance and/or abuse of girls and women.

The book received a starred review in Kirkus Review praising it as “an express train of a story … Rapid, compelling storytelling informed by rigorous research and enlivened by fecund imagination.”

Ricca is the author of “Super Boys,” the story of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, which was winner of the 2014 Ohioana Book Award in Nonfiction, winner of a 2014 Cleveland Arts Prize for Emerging Artist in Literature, and a Booklist Top 10 Book on the Arts. He is also the author of “American Mastodon,” winner of the 2009 St. Lawrence Book Award. He is a SAGES Fellow at Case Western Reserve University and lives with his family in Cleveland.

Copies of “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” will be available for purchase and signing courtesy of the Learned Owl Book Shop. Register for this free program at or call 330-653-6658 ext. 1010.


Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP