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Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Place We Knew Well by Susan Carol McCarthy

If you loved Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, then I have a treat for you! Susan McCarthy, author of the award-winning Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands, is back with a new historical novel, A PLACE WE KNEW WELL, set against the backdrop of Cold War panic. 

For the Avery family, the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis mark a turning point in their lives which will shape and forever change them. McCarthy captures pitch-perfectly the panic, tension, insanity and innocence of the time. The Avery family forms the emotional center of the novel, as their world starts to unravel during the heart-stopping buildup to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“Susan Carol McCarthy blends fact, memory, imagination and truth with admirable grace,” said The Washington Post of the author’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands. Now McCarthy returns with another enthralling story of a family—their longings, their fears, and their secrets—swept up in the chaos at the height of the Cold War.

Late October, 1962. Wes Avery, a one-time Air Force tail-gunner, is living his version of the American Dream as loving husband to Sarah, doting father to seventeen-year-old Charlotte, and owner of a successful Texaco station along central Florida’s busiest highway. But after President Kennedy announces that the Soviets have nuclear missiles in Cuba, Army convoys clog the highways and the sky fills with fighter planes. Within days, Wes’s carefully constructed life begins to unravel.

Sarah, nervous and watchful, spends more and more time in the family’s bomb shelter, slipping away into childhood memories and the dreams she once held for the future. Charlotte is wary but caught up in the excitement of high school—her nomination to homecoming court, the upcoming dance, and the thrill of first love. Wes, remembering his wartime experience, tries to keep his family’s days as normal as possible, hoping to restore a sense of calm. But as the panic over the Missile Crisis rises, a long-buried secret threatens to push the Averys over the edge.

With heartbreaking clarity and compassion, Susan Carol McCarthy captures the shock and innocence, anxiety and fear, in those thirteen historic days, and brings vividly to life one ordinary family trying to hold center while the world around them falls apart.

Advance praise for A Place We Knew Well
“Gripping . . . Even as those tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis are depicted in unwavering detail and with inexorable dread, the intimate moments between human beings on the verge of the apocalypse stand out. This multilayered story will remain with you long after you turn the last page.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife 

“Susan Carol McCarthy makes a nightmarish moment in America’s recent past terrifyingly immediate and devastatingly personal. This was what it was like to live, and even more astonishingly, to go on loving—as a husband, as a wife, as a young girl on the cusp of womanhood—with the threat of nuclear annihilation hovering only miles offshore.”—Ellen Feldman, author of Next to Love

“Susan Carol McCarthy’s genius is in turning history over to muscle-and-blood human beings who variously hope, fear, lash out, hold steady, and tear at the seams. If you weren’t there, this is as close to living through the Cuban Missile Crisis as you will ever come.”—Tom McNeal, author of To Be Sung Underwater

About Author

Susan Carol McCarthy was born and raised in the rural grovelands of pre-Disney central Florida. After graduating University of South Florida, however, McCarthy wrote advertising for then-opened Walt Disney World in Orlando. Later, after successful stints at McCann Erickson Advertising in Atlanta and San Francisco, McCarthy married a Californian and settled in San Diego as a full-time freelancer.

In 1991, McCarthy's writing life took a dramatic turn. A batch of news clippings from the Orlando Sentinel and a startling letter from her father detailed a series of shocking race crimes that occurred throughout Florida in 1951-1952. (Records of an FBI investigation, a Grand Jury hearing, and KKK indictments had been sealed for 40 years.) Her father's account of his daring cooperation with the FBI became the basis for McCarthy's award-winning debut novel, LAY THAT TRUMPET IN OUR HANDS.


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