Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.
Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another. An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.
Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.
It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.
Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.
To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?
After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.
Read an Excerpt HERE.
What an interesting and different book. It wasn’t what I expected when I picked it up and started to read but, with the help of Watkins’ imagination, I was transported to an Afterlife, the likes of which I haven’t read before.
The story is told alternately through Merry and Emmaline, a child from New Orleans who needs saving desperately, and sometimes through the evil Judge . I liked reading the story from the different perspectives. It always gives me so much more understanding of the characters I’m reading about when I can hear it in their own words. That being said, I did feel a little bit of character development was missing and I kept wishing for more of an attachment to them.
Though Meriwether Lewis was a real person, I wouldn’t say there is anything historical about the book. Perhaps a spot here and there, but for the most part, it’s made up. That’s not a complaint, by the way, just an observation I thought I’d share for people looking for more ‘facts’ in the book. I enjoyed reading this book very much and will definitely read more by this author.
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About the Author
Hey. I’m Andra Watkins. I’m a native of Tennessee, but I’m lucky to call Charleston, South Carolina, home for 23 years. I’m the author of ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’, coming March 1, 2014. It’s a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.
eating (A lot; Italian food is my favorite.)
traveling (I never met a destination I didn’t like.)
reading (My favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.)
coffee (the caffeinated version) and COFFEE (sex)
performing (theater, singing, public speaking, playing piano)
time with my friends
Sirius XM Chill
yoga (No, I can’t stand on my head.)
writing in bed
I don’t like:
getting up in the morning
cilantro (It is the devil weed.)
surprises (For me or for anyone else.)
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Tuesday, April 1
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, April 2
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, April 3
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, April 4
Guest Post at Kincavel Korner
Monday, April 7
Review & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, April 9
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, April 11
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, April 14
Review at Book Addict Katie
Friday, April 18
Review at Book Drunkard
Monday, April 21
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 24
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Friday, April 25
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, April 28
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, April 29
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, April 30
Review at A Bookish Girl
Thursday, May 1
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court