GOLD MEDAL WINNER OF THE IBPA’S 2016 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AWARD FOR BEST NEW VOICE IN FICTION
ELEANOR’S WARS (Beaver’s Pond Press, November 2015)
It’s 1942 and the globe is aflame. Eleanor Sutton, matriarch of a prosperous New Jersey family, struggles to fight the war on the home front. But then long-buried memories rooted in Eleanor’s service in the Great War come to light. These decades-old secrets threaten her marriage to her husband George–and bring his own carefully guarded secrets to the surface.
As the relative peace of the Sutton household is upended, son Edward leaves for the front lines. Younger brother Nat, an aspiring musician, must wrestle with shocking revelations while trying to find his way at boarding school. Setting her own future aside to oversee the family Victory farm, daughter Harriet faces the secrets that challenge all her assumptions about family and love.
Set against the historical backdrop of World War II, Eleanor’s Wars chronicles the personal battles of one heroic woman in a rapidly changing world. It explores a timeless, universal subject: the insidious power of family secrets to mold and destroy lives and to alter individual destinies.
“Few people know that women served as ambulance drivers on the incredibly bloody battlefields of World War I. With Eleanor, we glimpse the searing impact of that experience as she lives through World War II with her distant husband and three children. …A gripping read…Through the eyes of a woman and an adolescent boy, in a time and place now fading from living memory, readers experience the realities of war, both battlefield and home front, from a fresh angle.”
Sara M. Evans, Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America
“Ames Sheldon’s remarkably assured debut novel Eleanor’s Wars takes place in 1940s New Jersey and provides the reader with a fascinating view of the Second World War from the home front stage…The novel is a steadily-deepening web of secrets and revelations, something that kept me reading intently right to the last page.” Teresa Devine, Historical Novel Society
“Sheldon gets it right. Based on extensive research, war times in 20th century American come into focus…She reminds us that yesterday’s fears live only slightly mitigated today–bullying, gay, and feminist concerns…Eleanor’s dilemmas are ours to ponder in today’s context.”
Ruth F. Quattlebaum, archivist emerita Phillips Academy Andover
“Eleanor’s Wars is rich with the feel of America during WWII and the existence of PTSD in a generation that buried its trauma.”
Cynthia Kraack, The High Cost of Flowers, 2015 Midwest Book Award winner for Literary Fiction
“A warm and intimate portrait of an American family twisted and shaped by the two world wars. Highly recommended, a pleasure to read.”
Mary Logue, Lake of Tears
“Ames Sheldon has written a novel about family and war and lies and forgiveness. In other words, she hits all the bases in reaching home – the place where you live.”
Faith Sullivan, author of seven novels, including The Cape Ann and Good Night Mr. Wodehouse.
DON’T PUT THE BOATS AWAY (coming out soon!)
How does one survive losing a husband, a son, a brother in a brutal war? Don’t Put the Boats Away explores the power that the past has to shape today and tomorrow. Grief and family secrets don’t simply fade away. For the Sutton family, the death of their “golden boy” Eddie in World War II resounds for decades, compelling daughter Harriet and son Nat to try to compensate to their parents—Eleanor and George—for Eddie’s absence. Harriet joins the family business. Meanwhile Nat, an aspiring jazz musician, flunks out of his father’s alma mater and is sent away to labor in a mill in Minnesota; eventually he becomes a heart surgeon in Minneapolis. Both Harriet and Nat struggle with their autocratic father over their professional ambitions. As the members of the family attempt to rebuild their lives, they pay high prices (alcoholism and treatment, divorce) for denying their grief. When Eleanor, Harriet, and Nat embrace their passions and face their own truths, they finally discover the resilience to turn their losses into gains and find intimacy and independence in their relationships.
Semi-Finalist for the 2015 Eludia Award
Set in Massachusetts during the first wave of feminism (1910s) and the second (1970s), this novel introduces the current generation of young women to the issues their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers faced when it came to birth control, employment, and their right to self-determination. The protagonist Cassie, a graduate student in women’s history, discovers diaries, cartoons, and other documents of her great-great aunt Kate, a suffrage cartoonist and founder of Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts. The 1970s tale takes place over the wedding weekend of Cassie’s sister while Kate’s unfolds between 1910 and 1960. As Cassie tries to decipher Kate’s personal history from the documents Kate left behind, Cassie surmises that Kate probably had a botched abortion in Paris when she was very young. At the same time Cassie has discovered she is pregnant by her husband but she is falling in love with someone else. While the novel is about strong women, it also addresses some of the challenges that ambitious women present to their husbands and children.
WOMEN’S HISTORY SOURCES SURVEY: A GUIDE TO ARCHIVES AND MANUSCRIPT COLLECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
(New York: R.R. Bowker, 1979).
This 1,100-page reference book consists of descriptions of collections of primary source materials pertaining to women; many contain histories of the persons and organizations around which the materials were collected.
EMPLOYMENT AFTER SPINAL CORD INJURY: A HANDBOOK FOR COUNSELORS (Minneapolis: U of MN Medical Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, 1978). Vocational biographies of 79 spinal-cord-injured persons and information about their job modifications.