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Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft Paperback – April 10, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Perseverance Press; Original edition (April 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564744884
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564744883
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,119,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this captivating historical set in 1786, Mary Wollstonecraft is on her way to Ireland to become a governess, that most humiliating of occupations. At Mitchelstown Castle in County Cork, headstrong Mary, the future mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and future women's rights advocate, is determined to pen a novel and remain above the fray of castle politics while schooling Lord and Lady Kingsborough's daughters. Three suspicious deaths, however, compel Mary to seek justice for a poor young sailor, the family's troubled former governess, and even an aristocrat. It appears everyone from poet George Ogle, Lady K's new flirt, to a land tenant or two has a motive in one or more of these tangled deaths. As Mary snoops around in search of the culprit, she is bound not to lose herself to the mystery, her job, or the charms of any man. Wright (Mad Season and four other Ruth Wilmarth mysteries) deftly illuminates 18th-century class tensions. (Apr.)
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Review

"Despite the constraints of class, culture, stays and skirts, Wright's fictionalized Mary Wollstonecraft is thoroughly engaging on her voyage of detection and self-discovery." --Kate Flora, author of Stalking Death

"An entertainingly seamy portrayal of provincial aristocrats and the day-to-day messiness of 18th century life. Add a feisty, engaging heroine and the result is an atmospheric and absorbing whodunit." --Susanne Alleyn, author of Cavalier of the Apocalypse

"Despite the constraints of class, culture, stays and skirts, Wright's fictionalized Mary Wollstonecraft is thoroughly engaging on her voyage of detection and self-discovery." -- Kate Flora, author of Stalking Death<br /><br />"An entertainingly seamy portrayal of provincial aristocrats and the day-to-day messiness of 18th century life. Add a feisty, engaging heroine and the result is an atmospheric and absorbing whodunit." --Susanne Alleyn, author of Cavalier of the Apocalypse

More About the Author

I'm the author of seventeen books of fiction, non fiction, and poetry; five contemporary mystery novels from St. Martin's Press, a novella, "Fire and Ice," in the Worldwide Library anthology, CRIMES OF PASSION, two children's mysteries, one of which, THE PEA SOUP POISONINGS, won the Agatha Award for Best '06 Children's / YA Novel. A sequel, THE GREAT CIRCUS TRAIN ROBBERY followed in '08 and was an Agatha finalist. Now I've a mystery series based on the turbulent life of passionate 18th-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft: MIDNIGHT FIRES came out in 2010 from Perseverance Press in spring of 2010, followed by The Nighmare in 2011. Of course there are dozens of poems (including two chapbooks)and short stories in the literary mags--both mainstream (American Literary Review,et al.) and mystery (Level Best Books and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine). "The Outpost" and "Religious Wars" are now on Amazon Shorts. Vermont is my primary writing landscape! I love its mountains, valleys, autumn leaves, winter snows--even mud season, which inspired my first mystery. I live with my life partner, aerospace engineer Llyn Rice, and two huge demanding Maine Coon cats. Seven grandkids, all in Vermont, complete the scene. Please visit my website, www.nancymeanswright.com and say hello!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Q @ Let Them Read Books VINE VOICE on June 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't read a lot of mysteries but as a historical fiction lover I'm trying to add a few historical mysteries to my diet. I enjoyed this book, although I don't think there's anything remarkable about the mystery aspect of it, and it doesn't have that suck-you-in, heartpounding factor of a thriller. What drew me to it were its historical setting in eighteenth-century Ireland and its real-life heroine, Mary Wollstonecraft.

Hands down the best part of this book is Mary. Mary's a gem of a character. Normally a heroine in a historical fiction novel who is ahead of her time in thought and action would be unrealistic, but Mary really was that kind of woman! In fact, her first book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, makes an appearance in this story.

Smarting from a failed love affair, indebted and responsible for her sisters' welfare, Mary leaves London behind and takes a one-year assignment as a governess to a noble Irish family, though she has serious reservations:

"Governesses, she had heard, constituted one of the largest classes of insane women in asylums. The thought was not at all comforting."

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and this gig as a governess is temporary. Mary has plans, she's going to be being an authoress, and the Kingsboroughs provide plenty of inspiration:

"I haven't penned a novel," she said. "But I do have one in mind."

And she had, yes. She had begun a novel in her head. One of the characters would be a lady who loved her dogs more than her daughters. A lord who hunted, womanized, pitchcapped unhappy peasants, and drank his way through life...

She found it promising. She imagined the faces of her dumbfounded employers as they read her first novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
In 1786 Mary Wollstonecraft assumes life for her could not get any lower as she accepts humiliating work in County Cork, Ireland as a governess to the daughters of Lord and Lady Kingsboroug. Still, one must eat aand single women have few options. Thus Mary plans to make the best of her stay at Mitchelstown Castle.

Mary has given herself two rules to abide by. First she plans to write a novel. Second and foremost she is determined to stay out of the castle political squabbles. However, her resolve vanishes with the deaths of a sailor, the former governess, and an aristocrat. She believes a serial killer is on the loose and investigates seeking the link only to find several people with motives, but none with reasoning to kill the trio.

This is a terrific Georgian mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft starring as an amateur sleuth. Her investigation is clever as it enhances the overall theme of class and gender differences. Mary is the perfect guide for readers to look at the great divides in the late eighteenth century Ireland as she will one day soon write her famous manifesto. Nancy Means Wright provides an excellent historical mystery starring a superb heroine.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Nancy Means Wright lives in Middlebury, Vermont. She is a teacher of many years, and has authored eight mysteries; seven non-mysteries; short stories; and poems. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies. She has written a collection of poems in the person of Mary Wollstonecraft. Her awards include a Bread Loaf Scholarship and an Agatha Award and nominee for two children's mysteries.

Mary Wollstonecraft needs to earn her living, so she accepts a post as a governess in Mitchelstown Castle with the infamous Kingsborough family. On the crossing from Holyhead to Dublin she witnesses the apparent murder of an Irish man named Sean Toomey, who was a sailor on her ship, but not until he thrust a packet in her hand to deliver to a man named Liam:

"The ship lurched and threw her against him; he gripped her shoulders and helped her to grasp the ladder. She squinted down at the letter. FOR LIAM. 'Liam who? Where does he live?' Mary called to the fellow, who had already turned away.

'I'm only going to Mitchelstown, I said. Mitchelstown,' she shouted over the screech of sails, the howl of wind, the hallooing seamen. In tiny letters at the bottom of the letter she saw it was to be delivered to a Liam in Mitchelstown-the reason, perhaps, for his pursuing the conversation. 'Wait! You must find someone else to deliver it,'

Holding on to her hat with one hand, the rigging with the other, she reeled about to find him. He was nowhere in sight. She was sorry now that she had told him her destination. If she could not find a Liam, so be it. She thrust the letter into the pocket of her greatcoat."

MIDNIGHT FIRES just reels with mystery and intrigue, from the first page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Jacobson on April 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
In Midnight Fires Nancy Means Wright plunges the reader into the midst of late 18th century Ireland. The novel seethes with the tensions between the landed English aristocracy and Irish freedom fighters, not to mention the intrigue on a personal level both within and outside of the lordly castle. Mary Wollenstonecraft comes to Ireland to serve as governess to the Lord Kingsborough's family. Just before the ship docks Mary meets an Irish sailor who thrusts a letter into her hands and immediately after falls from the rigging of the ship. Soon after she arrives at the castle she attends a bonfire on Samhain Eve, a pagan celebration on October 31 that celebrates the end of summer. Someone stabs an illegitimate descendent of nobility, and Mary decides to clear the chief suspect, an Irish freedom fighter named Liam Donovan. The pace Wright sets is almost breathtaking.
Wright draws Mary's fictionalized character with enthusiasm and verve. The plot has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster with just as much excitement. Wright convincingly portrays the historical background with sensory detail. If you love historical mysteries, you will enjoy this book!
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