It’s my pleasure to welcome good friend and Story Empire colleague, Joan Hall, to my blog today. Joan is here to share her new release House of Sorrow, the introduction to her Legends of Madeira series. You can find my five star review for this fantastic novella that blends history and suspense HERE.
As someone who has an extensive set of books about Robert F. Kennedy, I’m particularly fond the post she’s sharing today. Take it away, Joan!
House of Sorrow: June 1968 & Bobby Kennedy
Mae, thank you for hosting me today. It’s a pleasure to visit today. I’m excited to tell your readers about my newest release.
House of Sorrow is a short-story prequel to my upcoming novel Cold Dark Night, book one of my Legends of Madeira series. It’s the story of Ruth Hazelton, a reclusive older woman who lives in a two-story Victorian house in the fictional town of Madeira, New Mexico. Ruth reflects on her life, particularly when she and her husband Lee first moved to town.
I included some historical events in the book, as well as some personal memories. Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s. One event is the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.
“Senator Kennedy has been shot.”
I still recall waking up to my mother’s words. Mom often had “premonitions” something bad was about to happen. It happened the day of JFK’s assassination and again with Bobby. She’d been unable to sleep that June night, so she turned on the television to hear the sad news.
In the days following Bobby’s death, I saw his funeral train on television and remember how crowds lined the tracks between New York City and Washington, DC. I was only ten, but it made a profound impact on me.
Only two months earlier, I had been the one to first learn of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I hurried into the other room to tell my parents. It’s safe to say 1968 was a volatile year in America.
A few years ago, my husband and I visited DC and Arlington National Cemetery. Seeing the simple marker and single white cross on Bobby’s grave touched me more than the eternal flame at JFK’s.
Some may think this is weird, but when I looked at the surrounding hillside, the last line of the song, “Abraham, Martin, and John” came to mind. I could almost picture the four men strolling together on the hill, and it brought tears to my eyes.
In this passage, Ruth has just moved to Madeira and met her neighbor, Sam. It’s only a few days after RFK died.
Sam sat in silence for a few minutes. “Damn shame about Bobby Kennedy.”
“Yes, it was. I watched the funeral on television. So sad for Ethel, especially with her being pregnant. That poor child will never know his or her father.”
“Guess it wasn’t surprising at the number of people who lined the tracks as the train made its way to Washington. Not to mention those at the funeral. President and Mrs. Johnson. Even Nixon was there.”
“Coretta Scott King. You know it had to be hard on her, having lost her husband only two months ago. And Jackie, of course.” Ruth had long been an admirer of the former first lady. She’d watched JFK’s funeral on television and was impressed with Jackie’s poise and elegance in such difficult times. She managed to look classy in her black mourning clothes, her brother-in-law at her side.
“First Jack, now his brother. Not to mention Joe Jr. and their sister. I believe that family is cursed. What do you think?”
“I really don’t believe in curses.”
Sam scoffed. “Curses are real.”
“You think so?”
“I do.” He made a sweeping motion with his hand. “Take some of the people who have lived in this—” Sam shook his head. “Never mind.”
“Lived where? Madeira?”
“It’s not important. Besides, I take it you’re not superstitious.”
“I’m not. This may sound callous, but both President Kennedy and Bobby were politicians and public figures. They were bound to have enemies.”
“That’s true, but what about the other Kennedy children?”
“The oldest brother was killed during World War II. Kathleen’s death was simply a tragic accident.”
“You may be right. On the other hand, Jack’s and Bobby’s assassinations could be part of a conspiracy. They got rid of both brothers. Murdered Martin Luther King. With that war over there, this world is a mess.”
Dream home or damned home?
Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.
But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.
Until the unthinkable happens.
Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.
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I was six when Bobby Kennedy died. I only have a grainy memory of a newscast. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I became fascinated with him, devouring books on his life, and collecting DVDs—both documentaries and TV movies. One of the things I loved best about House of Sorrow is how Joan spins back the clock to bring so many events of the 1960s and early 1970s to life in her story. It’s an entertaining novella which acts as lead in for what promises to be a most excellent series. I recommend heading to Amazon to ONE CLICK and snatch up your copy today!