January 2014 Indie Next List
“A Star for Mrs. Blake highlights a little-known slice of American history. The Gold Star Mothers, whose sons died in WWI and were buried in France, were escorted to their graves years later by the U.S. Army. Mrs. Blake, a spunky and practical woman from Maine, is one of a group of mothers making the journey. These women, unlikely candidates for friendships due to differences in class and life experiences, are brought together by the great equalizer of grief. This band of women is quirky and full of fire and vinegar, and readers are right beside them every step of the way as they prove that a mother's love is indomitable.”
— karen schwettman, FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, GA
Cora Blake never dreamed she'd go to Paris. She's hardly ever left the small fishing village where she grew up. Yet in the summer of 1931, she is invited to travel to France with hundreds of other Gold Star Mothers, courtesy of the U.S. government, to say goodbye to their fallen sons, American casualties of World War I who were buried overseas.
Chaperoned by a dashing West Point officer, Cora's group includes the wife of an immigrant chicken farmer; a housemaid; a socialite; a former tennis star in precarious mental health; and dozens of other women from all over the country. Along the way, the women will forge lifelong friendships as they face a death, a scandal, and a secret revealed.
About the Author
April Smith is the author of North of Montana and Be the One. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.
“A Star for Mrs. Blake is a beautifully written, meticulously researched slice of American history. April Smith’s poignant and tender story of five courageous World War I Gold Star mothers’ amazing journey across the sea is one you will never forget.” —Fannie Flagg
“April Smith has written a beautiful and unforgettable novel about five Gold Star Mothers whose stories are both personal and universal. Writing A Star for Mrs. Blake must have been a labor of love and it shows on every page. Everyone who has served or is serving in the military, and also their families and friends, should read this book.” —Nelson DeMille
“Smith's gentle, evocative prose brings graceful life to a wrongly forgotten historical footnote.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A first rate novel that is well worth reading. . . . Smith has the unique ability to take a long forgotten story and craft it into a page turner. . . . She’s found an important but forgotten postscript in America’s past and has written a compelling historical novel that confronts racism, class and economic differences as well as government bureaucracy. Smith conveys all of these topics through story and characters rather than a soapbox, and her subtle approach has far more impact than the histrionics of any television or radio pundit.” —Rob Taub, The Huffington Post
“A heartfelt glimpse into a little-known episode in U.S. history. . . Smith’s historical fiction is captivating and enlightening.” —Deborah Donovan, Booklist (starred review)
“Captivating. . . Smith captures the mothers’ interactions in beautiful detail and delves into the government’s not-entirely-altruistic reasons for sponsoring the trip.” —Publishers Weekly
“Smith writes with great depth of detail and of emotion, giving voice to these Gold Star Mothers who traveled from America to their sons’ graves in France.” —Historical Novel Society
“A moving novel [that] gives readers a detailed and colorful description of life during the interim between the War to End All Wars and the next world war that quickly followed. . . This is not simply a story of grieving mothers but a story of America—rich in the lives of each of the characters who raise small boys to become part of the dream but instead bury them in a faraway land. . . The questions are posed: How do we achieve peace? What are the costs of war? Can freedom and patriotism co-exist in America? And, for us in this century, how are our lives richer for the sacrifices of those who served before us?” —Lorinda Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Riveting. . . Smith has told this story with memorable characters and truly beautiful writing.” —Ann Lafarge, Hudson Valley News