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Daughter Of The Stars by Phyllis A. Whitney
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Daughter Of The Stars (1994)

by Phyllis A. Whitney

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Phyllis A. Whitney was one of my favorite authors when I was a girl. Her Columbella was one of the two books I checked out the day I proudly received my first adult library card. Eventually I stopped reading romantic suspense, so I hadn't read the last 24 of Ms. Whitney's novels. I picked up one of the later ones a few months ago and enjoyed it. I've been checking out about one a week since.

Even though several plot elements (heroine visits relatives she hasn't known, there's a child, etc.) are familiar in Ms. Whitney's books, I've been finding them very good anyway. Daughter of the Stars is no exception. I'd been wondering why so many of her later novels are set south of the Mason-Dixon line. The foreword offers a simple and logical explanation.

This mystery opens with a scene from the Civil War. It'll be quite a few chapters before we find out why some soldiers were shot by men from their own side. It's an ugly story. We're promised that what happened then won't be over for more than a century. Ms. Whitney keeps her promise.

A more recent incident in heroine Lacey Elliot's family involves an unsolved murder that split them apart, leading to flight, a suicide, and voluntary exile. Of course echoes of that murder are still affecting the present. Which relative, if any, is the killer?

If you like strong, elderly female characters -- sympathetic or otherwise -- Ms. Whitney had been delivering them for decades. There are more of them here.

The information about Harper's Ferry was very interesting. If you want to see pictures of some of the places described, there's a virtual tour at the National Park service website. You may hear various singers and versions of the lovely old song, 'Oh, Shenadoah', at youtube. (I found out my schoolgirl memory of the lyrics was even less accurate than I thought.) The Shepherd College where one of the characters teaches is Shepherd University now.

If you're in the mood for some romantic suspense, give this book and Whitney's others a try. My local library doesn't have the space to keep books that haven't been checked out for more than two years. They still have a lot of well-thumbed Whitneys. ( )
  JalenV | Aug 13, 2013 |
This, along with [book: The Golden Unicorn] by the same author, are what my grandmother used to call "Woman in Front of the House Books" from the standard cover art of a young woman in flowing garments posed in front of a large, spooky-looking house. The technical name is romantic suspense, and Phyllis A. Whitney was a master of the genre (in fact she was named a Grand Master by the MWA in 1988). When Whitney died recently at age 104, I realized I hadn't read anything of hers since junior high (she also wrote for young adults) so when I saw these two books ready for discard from a friend's bookshelf I took them to read on the plane.
[book: Daughter of the Stars]' title refers to the Shenandoah River, which meets the Potomac at Harpers Ferry, WV, the setting for this novel. Whitney always began writing by visiting the location and it shows; I could easily visualize the setting although I've never been there. The heroine of this book has been raised by her mother with no other apparent relatives. During the mother's recovery from surgery, a letter comes from Harpers Ferry and the heroine discovers that she does have relatives there, and that they may be in danger. She travels to West Virginia, meets the relatives, and also meets a handsome historian. There is a murder, but all ends more or less happily. One can usually predict what's going to happen in these books, and this was no exception, but the setting was so well done and the writing so well-crafted that it was an excellent way to pass the time during the 11 hours in airports, airplanes, and bus that it took to get from Savannah to Portland. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
When I was in elementary school, I loved reading the Bobbsey Twins books, especially the ones where the family took a trip. The story always worked in interesting descriptions of the location and its history. As a teenager, I occasionally read some of Phyllis Whitney's YA mysteries and finally graduated to some of her romantic suspense novels. Just as with the "Bobbsey Twins take a trip" books, I liked them as much for the setting as for the plot. When I was looking at my TBR shelves to see what I already own that I could read for one of my geographical challenges, I discovered this short novel, set in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. I thought I might enjoy an armchair trip to this historic town.

I wasn't expecting great literature, but I was hoping for a better story than this turned out to be. The plot seemed like something from a bad soap opera. Lacey Elliot was raised by her mother, who, as far as she knows, is her only relative. While her mother, Amelia, is recovering from surgery and treatment for breast cancer, she receives a letter from a woman in Harpers Ferry asking Amelia to return there and help her face an unnamed man who has just reappeared after a 30 year absence. Lacey learns that the letter writer is her great aunt and she decides to go to Harpers Ferry in her mother's place. Lacey meets many relatives (about one per chapter), who give her bits and pieces of information about the 30 year old tragedy that caused her mother to leave town and cut off her family ties, but none of them is willing to tell her everything they know. They all seem to have independently decided that it's time to confront the past, but since they're all intimidated by each other, they keep asking Lacey to go with them to talk to one of the others. (Lacey's presence is required for every conversation since she is the book's first-person narrator.) The seemingly endless confrontations didn't seem to be leading anywhere, so the climactic scene seemed abrupt and melodramatic rather than suspenseful or scary.

Although I didn't like the story or the characters, I did like the setting. I know more about Harpers Ferry than I did before I read this book. There are other ways to learn about Harpers Ferry without subjecting yourself to a poorly written novel, though, so I'd recommend that others try one of them instead. ( )
3 vote cbl_tn | Mar 6, 2010 |
Being from the area around Harpers Ferry, WV I picked up this book to see what it was about. I read of familiar areas and was taken in by the mystery being woven.

The book surrounds a family with deep hidden secrets that run through generations. Lacy Elliot will search to unravel her families past. A great, suspenseful read. ( )
  WillowOne | Mar 25, 2008 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Phyllis A. Whitneyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
courtesy of Malice DomesticAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacRae, MeredithNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Newport Classic RecordingsMusicsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raffin, DeborahExecutive producersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rowe, MarieProducersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rudnicki, StefanProduction coordinatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sansone, KenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Silverman, KarenProduction Managersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sneburger, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viner, MichaelExecutive Producersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zurbrugg, ShaunaProducersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Through the gloom of the night, Sunday, October 16, 1859, a small band of men tramped silently behind a horse-drawn wagon down a winding Maryland road leading to Harper's Ferry, Virginia.
From the shoulder of each man hung loosely a Sharps rifle, hidden by long gray shawls that protected the ghostly figures against the chilling air of approaching winter. A slight drizzle of rain veiled the towering Blue Ridge Mountains with an eerie mist. Not a sound broke the stillness, save the tramping feet and the creaking wagon.
--From John Brown's Raid based on National Park Service reports by William C. Everhart and Arthur L. Sullivan
Dedication
For Georgia, my daughter, my best friend, always my first editor.
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The two men in Union blue stood back to back in pale, early-dawn light.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0517599295, Hardcover)

While her mother battles a life-threatening illness, Lacey Elliot receives a letter from an unknown woman claiming to be her aunt, a piece of correspondence that unlocks dangerous secrets from the past. By the author of Star Flight. 125,000 first printing.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Children's book author Lacey Elliot travels to Harper's Ferry in West Virginia to solve her father's murder. In the process she meets an array of relatives, some drunk, some sober. This is a family whodunit, with ghosts and a brief romance thrown in. By the author of Star Flight.… (more)

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