#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew” by Denise Heinze

Posted Monday, 28 September, 2020 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

In [2019] I launched a new weekly featured concentration of book reviews on Jorie Loves A Story which celebrates my love and passion for the historical past! For those of whom are regular readers and visitors to my blog, you’ll denote a dedicated passion for reading Historical Fiction (and all the lovely segues of thematic therein) – I am a time traveller of the historical past every chance I get to disappear into a new era and/or century of exploration. There isn’t a time period I haven’t enjoyed ruminating over since [2013] and there are a heap of lovely timescapes I’ve yet to encounter.

This feature was inspired by the stories I’ve read, the stories I’ve yet to experience and the beauty of feeling interconnected to History through the representation of the past through the narratives being writ by today’s Historical Fiction authors. It is to those authors I owe a debt of gratitude for enlightening my bookish mind and my readerly heart with realistic characters, illuminating portals of living history and a purposeful intent on giving each of us a strong representation of ‘life’ which should never become dismissed, forgotten or erased.

I began this feature with the sequel to a beloved historical novel I first read in [2013] – it was one of the first ARCs I received and it was the first year I was a book blogger though it was through a connection outside my life as a blogger. I celebrated K.B. Laugheed’s literature to kick-off this feature and hopefully will inspire my followers to take this new weekly journey with me into the stories which are beckoning to read their narrative depths and find the words in which to express the thoughts I experienced as I read.

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew” direct from the publisher Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was inspired to read about Temperance Flowerdew:

I happen to love settling into a story about a historical person I have never heard of previously and getting to spend a bit of time getting acquainted with their life’s story. It is through these stories of Historical Fiction – in particular Women’s Historical Fiction and/or Feminist Historical Fiction (which parlay themselves together at times) which give us the most hope of learning of the historical past as it crossects with women who had a key part in both history and the lessons of the past. This is one of the reasons I love hosting for HFVBTs as it allows History to become opened in a myriad of new ways through the different portals of entrance each writer takes to tell their story.

With Temperance Flowerdew, I was hopeful I could walk beside her and understand her role in History and re-see a part of Jamestown I hadn’t known previously. However, as you will soon find out – this wasn’t a story I was able to finish reading as due to how it was written and how visually explicit it became showing the violence in the story itself, I found myself withdrawing from the text itself and simply had to put the book down. I did walk away knowing that Temperance and others like her held within her a strength of courage all women can relate too and celebrate but in regards to knowing more about her life and her trials in this particular exploration of her life, I had to step aside for other readers to find out those details for themselves.

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Notation on the Cover Art: I found it most fitting to find Temperance on the cover showcasing where she is in History by giving us a firm clue about her surroundings at Jamestown – how she herself came by ship and how the most important bit of this part of her life are the letters which are seen almost as a watermark rippling through the background of the cover art itself. It is one of the more creative covers I’ve seen in awhile and I loved the effect of it after you’ve read the story.

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew” by Denise HeinzeThe Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew
by Denise Heinze
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Determined to set the historical record straight, and clear her conscience, Temperance Flowerdew — the wife of Virginia’s first two governors — puts quill to paper, recounting the hardships that nearly brought the Jamestown colony to its knees, and the extraordinary sacrifice of her servant girl, Lily.

When she steps aboard the Falcon in 1609, Temperance Flowerdew was not only setting sail from England to the distant shores of America, she was embarking upon a future of opportunity. She didn’t yet know how she would make her mark, but in this new place she could do or be whatever she wanted.

Willing as she is to brave this new world, Temperance is utterly ill-equipped to survive the wilderness; all she knows is how to live inside the pages of adventure and philosophy books. Loyally at her side, Lily helps Temperance weather pioneer life. A young woman running from lifelong accusations of witchcraft, Lily finds friendship with Temperance and an acceptance of her psychic gifts. Together, they forge paths within the community: Temperance attempts to advise the makeshift government, while Lily experiences the blossoming of first love.

But as the harsh winter approaches, Lily intuitively senses a darkness creep over the colony and the veneer of civilized life threatens to fall away — negotiations with the Indians grow increasingly hostile and provisions become scarce. Lily struggles to keep food on the table by foraging in the woods and being resourceful. Famine could mean the end of days. It’s up to Lily to save them both, but what sacrifice will be enough to survive?

A transporting and evocative story, The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is a fiercely hopeful novel — a portrait of two intrepid women who choose to live out their dreams of a future more free than the past.

Genres: Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781982598648

Published by Blackstone Publishing

on 29th September, 2020

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 176

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Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook and Ebook

About Denise Heinze

Denise Heinze

Denise Heinze, a former literature professor and a PhD graduate of Duke University, writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She is the author of the novel Sally St. Johns and her work has appeared in Now and Then, Thought and Action, Reunions, Wow! Women on Writing, THEMA literary journal, and Gemini Magazine; her story The Grid, was a quarter-finalist for the Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award. The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is her second novel and was a finalist for the University of New Orleans Press Publishing Lab Prize. A descendant of Louisa May Alcott, she lives in North Carolina.

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my review of the brief and true report of temperance flowerdew:

There is a sense of extreme urgency in how the story of Temperance Flowerdew begins to unfold – as she is a Mum to young children whose taken to writing down an accounting only she can tell during the festivities of Christmas and yet, her conscience is not without a marring of regret for what she is about to undertake. You see Temperance as a woman who has a lot of courage to attempt to write down what only she knows herself to be true against the horrible truths of her own mortality – as Heinze re-angles us against both the historical significance of Temperance’s ambition to write down this story and the adverse timing of its telling. You feel immediately for Temperance – for the anguish of what she knows about herself and her willingness to fight against time itself to leave a record of what she wants History to embrace long after she is gone.

One of my favourite methods of how a story can be told is through Epistolary narratives in Fiction – such as this story employs – as concurrent to reading the narrative bits, we are treated to the writings of Temperance herself – completely in-line with the flow and pacing of her story. It is wonderfully executed as you can move from her letters to her story without feeling you’ve lost anything betwixt and between the two giving you a better grip of understanding Temperance and why this part of her story needed telling.

After spending a brief repose with Temperance at home, we immediately travelled back to when she was crossing the Atlantic with Lily and finding themselves in the middle of a heightening alarm of a sea gone mad due to an approaching storm the crew hadn’t quite considered more than a nuisance themselves. It was here where we found it revealled that Lily has a gift most do not and it is through this gift of hers that Temperance knew of the circumstance of their voyage would be met with a fate of strife if the crew did not heed their warnings which I felt were cleverly dispatched given the timeline of the story. Seeing Temperance aboard ship was a different impression than seeing her as a mother in the opening chapter – she had a different kind of personality when she was younger, one that was fully confident in her choices and she accepted the curious unknowns in life rather well for someone who lived in an age of superstitions.

As we angle back and forth between the Temperance on the Falcon with Lily and the Temperance at Jamestown writing down her histories – we peer into two different stages of her life as they are being lived. What made me chuckle a bit is when I observed the irony of how Temperance is trying to focus on writing down those histories whilst her household and her children are giving her a bit of added stress which in of itself was forestalling her ability to write the letters which would become the recorded history she was determined to leave behind. It proved that for everyone’s best plans to achieve a singular goal there are times wherein life likes to give you a few more wrinkles of angst as you’ve set yourself to focus on the goal which is critically important to you. If only all of us could remain resolute as Temperance during an equally dire moment in our lives where time is not only the essence of it all but it is all that is left to give of oneself.

The fury of fear on the Falcon and the aftermath of the storm were rivetingly told by Heinze who gave you such a distinct impression of what it would have been like to be aboard the ship during one of the worst storms it had faced. Yet, it also highlighted the dangers to women and to women like Lily who knew things outside of themselves which could impact others by their foreknowledge. In that respect, it was a doubly dangerous voyage all round for everyone on ship. And yet, it wasn’t until they were finally docked at Jamestown where Temperance realised the greatest issue she would have is finding a way forward without the hindrances of the past. I felt for her truly when she realised that women in this new world of America were not meant to be any freer than they were in England; how the men here still wanted to control women and that women newly arrived were already relegated to specific duties the men saw for them here. It was in that moment I realised that Temperance hadn’t fully thought out her course of action and how disheartening it must have been for her to realise what her worth was as a woman and as a newly arrived citizen of this country.

The key difference I was observing in the younger Temperance was that she didn’t share the same urgency as her elder self – as when she was newly arrived at Jamestown, she had a bit of a chip on her shoulder to where she did not understand the urgency of Lily’s warnings about food and the reasons why securing food was necessary to their survival. In the larger expanse of the story, Heinze hugs close to the history of Jamestown during a period of time where the settlers and John Smith (as he is one of the key characters in the background of the story) did not realise how endangering it would be to them to have the Native Americans take a leave of the settlers; wherein, they realised that the settlers did not have enough food and they would not take steps to bail them out as I felt due to how the story was writ, the Native Americans felt the settlers had been too foolish about how they took to growing their settlement. They focused on everything except self-sustainability which could provide their short exit out of a life that could have been long lived.

This younger Temperance was not prepared for life here and she didn’t have the same kind of grounding of place and person as the Temperance we first met in the opening of the story. This Temperance was quite ramrod stubborn (not in a good way) and she was relying on others to take care of her as she herself didn’t believe she had it in her to do any good at all. She was quite self-defeating which surprised me as again, she didn’t extol those attributes lateron in life and it was interesting to see such a keen juxtaposition now in her younger years.

It was Lily who shouldered the most from Temperance as she was her protector and her guide in this New World. Lily had a lot of moxie but even she herself was placed into positions that would test even the strongest woman of her age due to how some would seek to take advantage of what they cannot control. In the background of the narrative itself is the churning realities of how men viewed women and how women were meant to be sub-servant to men. Not all of them felt this way but a majority did and Heinze explored how this persistent view of women placed all women in the vice of danger due to how men did not respect the women on equal terms of themselves. This led into some of the harder chapters and scenes to read and thankfully Heinze pulled back a bit where she could have taken the narrative further and explored the harder realities that nearly unfolded. I was thankful for her restraint in other words.

I was bracing myself for the moment where this story might prove too much for me to read and I hadn’t had to wait too long past the attack on Lily for it to arrive. When it comes to brutality and violence in literature, I have a level of tolerance for most stories per genre but I do have a limit about how explicit I can handle those kinds of scenes and sequences. I prefer less details than explicitly described when it comes to violence and when it comes to a death scene like the one inside this story – honestly, it just took me over the edge of what I can handle visually. There is more than one instance where I felt the heightened visuals of this story were a bit too gritty and raw for me as a reader but it was this death scene that eclipsed any hope for me to finish reading the book.

I would suggest this story is better for readers who can handle reading stories similar in both scope and description of this one whilst fully knowing there are going to be visuals inclusive of this story that are not just unsettling but they can give you a rather sickening feeling to read – as that is what happened to me. I would caution readers not to read this if they are not prepared for the explicit violence which accompanies the story and for the scenes where there is violence against women. Historically it is a testament to events in the 17th Century as it is rooted in the truth of what was left for us to understand out of this moment of time in which the story is set but as it is told in this story, I simply felt too repulsed to continue until the end.

on the historical narrative style of denise heinze:

Heinze endeavours to place us inside Temperance’s shoes so immediately directly as to give us a firm attachment to Temperance through the compelling circumstances in which we find ourselves with Temperance. You feel empathy for Temperance and you are compelled with your own curiosity to know what she knows as she hints towards the yet known non-disclosed history of Jamestown. That in of itself did not surprise me because too often there are hidden stories left out of our known Histories and on that note, this was the first time I had heard of Temperance Flowerdew!

One of my favourite disclosures in the narrative is how seamen counted knots and thus deduced the speed of their ships – as this was something I was quite curious about previously but hadn’t read a clear response about how it was done until now. It was a bit more simplistic than I originally felt it might be as well which proves that not everything is complicated! I loved how they used such a clever way of telling distance and speed whilst the measurements of knots is still used today.

Historically this is a very accurately described novel – which worked both to its effect of presenting History in such a way as to honour the past with the truthfulness of its telling but also to numb the reader a bit round the edges as some of those passages were a bit too truthfully told. Meaning the imagery and the descriptive narrative Heinze chose to use in this story are not for the faint of heart nor for the sensitive reader (which I am) and that is the main issue I had with the story itself. I was truly captured by Temperance herself as a character but I worried given the timeline of her time spent in Jamestown if this story might reach a bit closer to the harder points of Jamestown’s history and in effect it had. It was through those more difficult passages that I staid within the context of the story until I reached the point where I could not go forward with the text. It was a descriptive scene of death and from there I could travel no more alongside Temperance’s journey.

However, until then, what I felt was interesting is how Heinze showcased two distinctively different moments of Temperance’s life and even effectively showcased her growth and her innocence in equal measure from one moment of life to the other. Heinze truly tapped into this woman’s legacy and tried to build her life out of the ghosts of the past which still had a story left to be told.

Fly in the Ointment: Content Note:

There are a few rougher scenes I felt being described but aptly owning to the historical time in history and to the mannerisms of those without morals towards women in particular. It was hard to read those passages but it owns to the men of the time and to how they viewed women; historically it was accurate even if reading it was difficult due to what was said in those scenes. There was an increasing momentum to show violence against women during this time and with each new scene, I felt myself feeling more drawn away from the story than I was committed to reading it as those scenes were difficult to transition through for me as a reader.

I also had difficulty with one scene which involved a cracked egg but I think it was more do to the shock of what was in the egg than the scene itself – as of course not every egg is one to eat as some eggs sustain life, etc and although it was a scene that made historical sense it was just disturbing a bit round the edges.

Yet, the scene that took me out of the story itself was what happened to one of the men who went to negotiate a trade with the Native Americans. Honestly, that scene gave me the shivers as it was writ with such authority and accuracy – it was just too much for me visually to be honest. I could have done with less details as just the thought of what would befell that man was enough for me and reading the grittier details of what took his life wasn’t needed to understand the horror of his death. (at least for me)

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew blog tour banner provided by HFVBTs and is used with permission.

Be sure to not only follow the rest of the tour for keen insight into the novel but also the guest features or other extras which might be awaiting you to discover.  Meanwhile, if you’ve read this story – I’d love to know your takeaway thoughts and if we shared the same opinion on behalf of Temperance Flowerdew. IF my review led you to consider reading this series for yourself – I’d love to know what inspired you about this slice of history and the characters Heinze brought to life in her novels.

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Reading this novel counted towards some of my 2020 reading challenges:

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew”, synopsis, the author photo of Denise Heinze and author biography as well as the tour host badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Historical Mondays banner, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 28 September, 2020 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 17th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Temperance Flowerdew, Virginia, Women's Fiction

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