Review of The Seeds of Sorrow and Q&A with Author Lisa Brown

My Review:

The Seeds of SorrowAlthough The Seeds of Sorrow is the sequel to Lisa Brown’s first book entitled The Porter’s Wife, it is a stand alone book and you do not have to read the first book in the series to understand this novel.

We are introduced to Agnes Berry on her wedding day in 1919.  She is surrounded by her friends and family and could not be happier to be marrying the love of her life, Art Craig.  As a gift from Agnes’ parents, Agnes and Art have a dream honeymoon in Winnepeg’s finest hotel.  But on the first night of their life together, Art has a terrible nightmare, and in a fit of thrashing around, he accidentally gives his new bride a black eye.

We come to understand that Art is a veteran of World War I and sleep eludes him as he cannot shake the horrible memories of the trenches and the deaths of his friends.  Agnes is an inspirational heroine as she tries to be as supportive as possible without embarrassing him or pushing Art too hard to talk about his experiences.

The first half of the novel deals with the everyday lives of Agnes and Art as they try to figure out the ins and outs of marriage and attempt to build a life together.  There are no great tragedies or revelations or surprise moments in this part.  Lisa Brown takes her time to portray realistic characters to whom the reader can relate on both an emotional and spiritual level.  Art and Agnes are surrounded by their loving family and close friends and together they also encounter some of the issues of the times such as prohibition and later the Great Depression.  Lisa builds characters with whom you will become emotionally invested and hope the best for.

When Agnes’ two older sisters, with whom she is very close, move across Canada to Vancouver, Agnes and Art decide that they also want to relocate and start a new life.  Lisa takes her time to describe beautifully the Canadian landscape as the family travels west by train.  This book makes me want to plan a vacation to western Canada, a part of the world I would never have considered traveling.

But will everything really work out for Agnes and Art?  What trials and tribulations will the family face in a new city?  Should they have ever left Winnepeg in the first place?

The title itself is definitely a hint that you should be ready with some tissues at the end of this book.  The reason we like tragedy and suffering in art is due to the fact that it helps us deal with and find a catharsis for our own grief in real life.  THE SEEDS OF SORROW is a must read for anyone who wants a profound emotional experience and enjoys historical fiction set in the early 20th Century.

Q&A with the Author Lisa Brown:

1. How did you decide to make Agnes the focus of this book as opposed to some of the other characters?

It was always going to be about Agnes (my great grandmother).  I had always planned on The Seeds of Sorrow being “the story” I had to tell.  My first novel, The Porter’s Wife, was more of a prequel or a foundational piece of work to build the characters.  I was fascinated by the strength of a woman (Sarah) who could survive as beautifully as she did under the conditions she faced, but it was the defining event of The Seeds of Sorrow that I believe had the most significant impact on my family; it was one that altered my family’s foundation and one whose effects are with me today, more than eighty years and a couple of generations later. 
 
I am fascinated by human nature, including my own strengths and quirks, and I grew up trying to understand the women in my family and what made them who they were so I could better understand myself.  My family did not share a lot in terms of feelings, and in fact many subjects were taboo, and I really needed to understand why … to help explain personalities and see if I could draw parallels.  I did my own research and uncovered the content for The Seeds of Sorrow.  It explained so much to me and I felt compelled to write about the events and relationships of my direct line.
 

2. What type of research did you do for Art’s character as far as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? 

I actually didn’t do any research.  It was never about PTSD for me.  My reader’s labelled it that way.  It was a eureka moment for me when I read the first review.  It was by someone that was a student of PTSD, and I thought “Wow”!  For me, it was about my great grandfather’s painful journey.  For me, it was purely emotional, not clinical.  But it goes to show you that we are all emotional beings and our experiences, as well as our actions and reactions, are rarely unique.

3. How did you come up with the title “The Seeds of Sorrow”?  It is much more subtle than the title for your first book.  Did you have other working titles that you were considering?

The Seeds of Sorrow, as a title, perfectly captured what I have experienced in my own family over time.  It speaks to the lasting effects of trauma and sadness that can trickle down through the generations.  It can be much more lasting and impactful on who we are as people than happiness can.  Some of us can manage through the difficulties, and even come through them stronger, and some are not as successful.  It is the nurture part of nature versus nurture, the emotional impact of our family relationships, that I believe has the greater impact on who we are.

 I did contemplate The Broken Window as an alternate title, but it only captured “the moment” and not the effects of “the moment,” which was more important to me.

4. Are you planning on writing a third book?  It seems that you could continue writing the story of this family through any of the daughters’ children.

I hadn’t planned on writing a third, but I am rethinking that.  The reaction to The Seeds of Sorrow has been surprising to me in terms of the strength of the opinions.  I really worried about the ending because so many of the comments that I received from The Porter’s Wife included “heartwarming, happy ending, etc.” and this book is completely different. I worried about disappointing people.  My proofreader reassured me and said, “It doesn’t have to have a happy ending; it just has to have a powerful ending.  It has to be either really happy or really sad, but it has to make people feel strongly.  Then you know you have done your job as a writer.”  I like to make people happy, so it has been a challenge!
 
Agnes died before I was born and her sister Mary took her place.  My grandmother (Dorothy) was very close to her cousins (Margaret and Norma) and she called her Aunty Mary “Mum” after her own mother died.  As a child I have very fond memories of my Aunty Mary, who was an absolute sweetheart.  There is a third book in there, but it probably won’t come for a while.  The closer the story gets to me, the harder it is to tell…the seeds of sorrow flourished!
About the Author:  
Lisa BrownLisa Brown is an avid genealogist and enjoys writing about the fascinating lives of generations past.  She is the author of The Porter’s Wife and its sequel, The Seeds of Sorrow, both of which loosely follow three generations of women in her family history.  Lisa currently resides in Ontario, Canada with her husband and three sons.
Thanks so much to Lisa for providing the book to me and doing the Q&A.  If you would like to add THE SEEDS OF SORROW to your Goodreads list you can do so here as well as enter a GIVEAWAY on Goodreads to win a free copy:
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Filed under Author Interviews, Historical Fiction, World War I

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