By- K. Williams
Expected Publication Date- April 27th, 2015
Published By- Booktrope Publishing
Blue Honor tracks four tightly twining families during the American Civil War. Each member is asked to sacrifice more than their share to see friends and loved ones through the terrible times. The only certainty they have is that nothing will be the same.
Emily Conrad is the bookish daughter of a wealthy dairy family from Vermont. Her indulgent father has educated her and bred ideas that aren’t acceptable to her more urbane mother, who thinks Emily needs to settle down with her longtime friend and town philanderer Evan Howell. The outbreak of war frees Emily from these expectations for a time, but a stranger soon arrives after the guns begin to blaze, threatening her plans more than societal conventions ever could.
Devoted to the young woman who healed her wounds, Henrietta has become part of the Conrad family, hoping that she may one day see her husband and son again. As a runaway slave, she’s been lucky enough to find this slice of peace in Vermont, but the return of Evan Howell and the man he brings with him portends great change that might see her locked back in irons, if not executed for what she’s done.
Evan isn’t as bad as his reputation has made him out to be. He knows his chum Emily will make the best doctor Vermont has ever seen, and he knows he’s not the man to marry her. With a little manipulation, he convinces his commanding officer, Lieutenant Joseph Maynard, to take leave with him and see the beauty of the north. He just doesn’t let on it’s not hillsides and streams he’s setting the man up for.
Joseph has both power and privilege as the son of a Baltimore lawyer, but neither can guarantee him the things he wants in life. His commission in the army is likely to lead to death, a sacrifice he was willing to make to end slavery in the States—that was until he saw Emily Conrad. Torn between duty and desire, Joseph struggles to stay standing for that which he once held strong convictions. War weary, they all march on to duty…
Emily was born into what would be called today the Middle Class; a dairy heiress on a Vermont Farm. Her early diversions were getting into trouble with her beloved chums Evan Howell and her younger brother Michael. As she grew, she was primped by a stern mother for life in society and found herself in the company of only her maids, a bawdy farm hand’s daughter and a quiet runaway slave. Emily’s father provided her education, encouraging her to read books and pursue interests normally only open to men. Her hero is Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, one of the first women to study and professionally practice medicine. Emily has a gift for healing and wants to apply it as a full fledged doctor someday. For fun, she likes to read Shakespeare and other classics. Though she isn’t blessed with a pet, there is a calf on the farm that has her undying affections, the first progeny of May-Belle, a heifer she saved by way of her skills. Prone to mooning, she is the seat of all vexation for her mother, who Emily is constantly judging herself by. Emily has no intention of falling in love, and doesn’t even think about the prospect of marriage, except in the sense that someone might steal her away from her boredom on the farm.
Emily is best known for her lustrous blue eyes and quick answers (if not the smoldering temper that fuels her rapid tongue). She takes after her father for being kind, but harbors the wary doubts of her mother which make her more aloof. Emily prefers her books to spending time with other girls her age.
The tall, dark and handsome, charming phillander that anyone could fall in love with. He’s trouble with a capital T, for women, and a hell of friend. As big a womanizer as he is, he is also fiercely loyal to those he calls friend. Evan hails from a poor family whose farm neighbors the Conrad plot. The eldest in a large family, it is up to him to change the Howells’ circumstances, not just his own. He tends to smoke and drink, and speak with a lazy drawl.
Together with Joseph Maynard, he is one of half of an epic partnership. The two men met at West Point and became fast friends. Hints of their exploits are threaded throughout the story. The likelihood that these escapades are not for the faint of heart is reflected in the behavior he gets up to from the beginning of the book on.
Joseph stands in contrast to his dark companion, tawny haired and light eyed. He is a bit taller than Evan Howell, and of stronger build. He comes from a very wealthy family located in Maryland. Everything has been provided for him, but his behavior does not exude privilege to the point that he makes himself an annoyance. His appearance, grooming and clothing, are probably the only clues to his upbringing. The legend that he became at the point had much to do with his inherent likability. Joseph is charming, knowing exactly what to say, and acts justly toward all. He’s equally skilled at the tasks of an officer in the Cavalry and doesn’t shy from the work.
In his youth, Joseph had taken duty and honor a tad too seriously, especially when it came to his sister’s honor. For this, he is able to relate to the awkward Michael Conrad. Perhaps surprisingly, Joseph likes to read, so discovering that the beautiful Emily Conrad enjoys Shakespeare and the like only interests him in her further. He’s more used to the pretty trussed up wall flowers of society balls–none of which have been able to hold an intelligent conversation beyond the weather and fashion.
Michael is as fresh faced as they come. He’s a boyish looking man, with blue eyes and blond hair. His innocence isn’t just skin deep. Though he’s been accepted to West Point, he regards the world in simple terms. Right and wrong aren’t gray areas to him. He acts always with honor and tends to be a little clumsy. He’s well liked by his classmates, but is nowhere near the stature of Joseph Maynard, a senior officer who went through The Point like a celebrity. The other young men herald Maynard as a legend. Michael is more worried about doing the right thing, regardless of safety. He’s the opposite mixture of his parents that his sister Emily has.
Stuart is a kindly gentleman and owner of vast acreage in Vermont, on which he runs a dairy business. As indulgent as he is with his daughter, he is generous to the other young people in the town, taking it on his bill to make sure that Evan Howell gets into West Point and earns a stellar future for himself. That the boy might marry his daughter one day is only a side concern. Additionally, Stuart takes in Hettie, a runaway slave, risking breaking the law to see her made well again and protected. During Hettie’s tenure with the Conrads, she is expected to work for wages and also catch up on school work she was denied in the place from which she came. Stuart is a progressive man, social politics wise, and is the hero of his young daughter. His white hair and mutton chops, bright cheeks and smile have him standing out in the crowd even more than his finely crafted suits.
From the cream of NYC aristocracy, the farm in Vermont was not where Mrs. Conrad pictured her life taking her. However, she enjoys her life at the side of the man she loves, making her home, being the queen of society in her new location and raising her two children. Seemingly cold, her look can be rather severe. Margaret adheres to rule and decorum to ensure safety. You can imagine that she rather likes the stiff collars and undergarments of the 1860s. Do not be fooled, however, she is a good soul underneath. She welcomes a runaway slave into her home with open arms, and not a thought to the contrary. Margaret is a woman of conviction and faith.
Hettie, as she is called by the Conrad family, is a runaway slave. Despite her visible and invisible scars, she has a hauntingly beautiful appearance, large black eyes and smooth-as-an-infant hickory skin. She likes to keep her hair covered with a wrap when before others and working. Her tale is one of woe, written in ribbed scars on her back.
Once she recovers from her trauma, she becomes the unfaltering friend of Emily, the girl who made her better. It soon becomes apparent that Emily needs her guidance in return. The two bond, feeling equally lost in a world that disregards their worth and humanity. Hettie can tend to be skittish, but she’s brave and driven. She dreams of seeing her son again one day, as well as her husband. In the meantime, she believes, Stuart tries to distract her with studies and work. She enjoys humoring him, as he takes such delight in her progress–she does too. Hettie lives in disbelief at the farm, never having believed she would be able to read let alone earn a wage, or be treated with such remarkable civility.
The Widow Murphy
Mrs. Murphy is a tale of her own. She originates from Ireland, an immigrant who succeeded in the boiling pot of America that normally chewed up those seeking gold on her shores. Murphy is a tough woman, who raised boys, all of whom appear to absent for one reason or another. Her deceased husband was a dear friend of Stuart Conrad, and the relationship between her and Stuart is rumored to be deeper than friendship. That doesn’t bother Mrs. Murphy. She’s been the root of many scandalous rumors and finds that they help amuse her and pass the time.
Murphy is a robust woman who enjoys all the trappings of womanhood but doesn’t get lost in a deep conversation. To Emily, she is an example of what could be, the best of all choices. Murphy is also a loyal friend. However, she is willing to sacrifice her comrades should they stand in the way of what is just. She’s a discerning woman, intuitive and charitable.
About the Author-
Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she continues to reside, K.Williams embarked on a now twenty year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and work in the arts.
K attended the State University of New York at Morrisville, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany (home of the New York State Writer’s Institute) gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art.
Currently, K has completed the MALS program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. K continues to write and is working on the novels of the Trailokya Trilogy, a work that deals with topics in Domestic Violence and crosses the controversial waters of organized religion and secularism. A sequel to OP-DEC is in the research phase, while the adaptation is being shopped to interested film companies. Excerpts of these and more writings can be found at: www.bluehonor.com