I am very excited to be part of Elaine Cougler’s book tour for her latest historical novel, The Loyalist Legacy.
‘Historical fiction is flourishing as never before,’ declared the head the British Historical Writers’ Association recently and Elaine’s final book in her Loyalist trilogy is testament to the popularity and success of this genre.
Set against the backdrop after the American War of Revolution (American War of Independence) and the War of 1812, The Loyalist Legacy is an intimate, personal and realistic novel centred around William and Catherine Garner seeking to rebuild their lives admist the terrible hardships and ensuing political fallout. Her book can be read as a stand alone but of course would be richer to read in sequence.
With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.
The following encapsulates the essence of the book and I cannot help but want to learn more about the two main characters, their struggle and the change created in both them and their country.
When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find in the wild heart of Upper Canada their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.
The wonderful atmospheric writing of the following excerpt immediately drew me in and transported into the nineteenth century world of William and Catherine.
The tunnel sloped upward and, as the light grew brighter, they left the water behind. First out of the hole, Lucy watched as Robert turned back to help William tug their father, blinking, up into the sunshine. Aaron pulled her to the waiting wagon, and parted the hay to reveal a hiding place. She crawled inside, John came after and then her sons. They were almost blind in the shadowy half-light, brown with the sun filtered through the layered hay.
A bright spot of light opened where they had crawled in and Aaron shoved a jug of water toward them. “Godspeed,” he whispered and was gone. She prayed his part in this would never be known. The wagon lurched and they were off, the three escapees and her, now just as guilty in the eyes of the law as her men, and whoever was driving the wagon….
John dozed beside her, his long legs reaching to Robert and William who sat hunched at their parents’ feet. She had lain down beside John to try to cushion him from the bumpy road and hold his head on her shoulder. How could he sleep? She was acutely aware of each rut in the road and every stone the wheels scraped against as the wagon carried them to what she hoped was freedom. The horses snorted and panted up every hill and she found herself holding her breath hoping they’d make it.
They hardly stopped on the way out of the village, but each time they did everyone held their breath until the squeaky wheels started turning again. But the ride was uneventful. No one followed them; indeed, no one seemed to know they had escaped.
The wagon bed was covered with a thin tick meant to ease their journey and she thanked the planners for their effort even though it didn’t help much. Nevertheless the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves created a kind of rhythm and gradually her thoughts subsided into the sound as she released her fear and her excitement. Her body relaxed against John’s. The last thing she remembered was putting a handkerchief over her nose to keep out the bits of fresh hay floating in the murky air.
Whispering woke her. And a sudden burst of cool air, which wafted into the tight space, now dark. She pulled the cloth away and sat up. John groaned beside her and she felt his fevered forehead.
“Mama? Are you awake?” William’s low voice caught and he cleared his throat. “We’re stopping for the horses.” He crawled through the opening and she followed after him feeling her way in the darkness.
“What about your father? He’s burning with fever.” Picking bits of hay from her clothing she looked around but could see very little. A few distant stars shone weakly and a slip of a moon hung over them like a curved sword. Two men switched the teams but in the dim light she couldn’t see who they were. Only the occasional glint of harness bits and wide eyes—both horses’ and humans’—bore witness to their task. Mr. Beasley had been as good as his word.
Robert went to help the men and Lucy turned to John. William opened up a larger hole in the straw so his father could breathe easier. Very soon the horses were hitched again, the spent team tied to a wheel for a moment, and its driver, spent also after six hours of driving, brought Lucy a package of food from under the wagon seat. They each found a brief moment in the bushes, William helping his father out of the wagon for the purpose, and soon stuffed themselves back into the tight space.
The plan was to drive all night, the new driver had said, but Lucy wondered how much more she and John could take. Her rheumatism pained her at the best of times but bumping along in the back of this wagon was pure agony although she uttered not a word to her family. William had kept the plug of hay out of its hole at the back of the wagon and she was glad of the air. She plunged her hand into the sack to find what their rescuers had packed for them.
Hours later the wagon stopped again. William woke and hastily plugged the hole against the dawn light but soon removed the hay and crawled out, Robert right behind him. John’s eyes were on her and she took his hand.
“Where are we?” he asked.
“Another stop for horses, I expect.” She touched his cheek. “Come. We’ll have a stretch.”
Robert helped his father from the wagon and took him into the bushes.
“Where are we, William?” Lucy asked. “Do you know?”
“We’re going to Burlington Bay. That’s all Aaron told me.”
“Beasley kept his promise.”
William squeezed her rough hand and she winced. “What is it, Mama?”
She forced a smile and took back her hand. “Look. The sun is just clearing the lake.”
“That’s the last we’ll see of it today.” Robert had returned from helping his father. “The driver says we’re still many miles from Beasley’s place.”
A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine Cougler found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and Rebellion of 1837 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles. She lives today in the heart of Ontario, Canada, and is the descendant of Loyalists who lived through the times of which she writes.
Elaine Cougler can be found on Twitter, Facebook Author Page, LinkedIn and on her blog.
The Loyalist Legacy is out now and available at Amazon UK or Amazon US.
43 thoughts on “The Loyalist Legacy: Book Tour”
I love historical fiction, I used to read a lot of it. Great review, Annika. I also enjoyed the suspense and am wondering how this family fared. The Loyalists sounds like a fantastic read, many compliments to the author.
Lana, thank you so much for your generous comment and yes, the fate of the family hooks one in right away. This sounds like one you might enjoy.
This review works so well because you have given a generous portion of the writers own words, giving insight into the writing style of Elaine Cougler. I am currently reading “Slaves in the Family” by Edward Ball. He researched and wrote a factual account of his own families involvement in buying/selling of slaves in Charleston South Carolina. I realized I know so little about the time period of the Revolutionary War while reading this book……and from your review of ” The Loyalist Legacy” I am now looking forward to learning more ‘facts’ through reading this tale of historical fiction, a genre that I am increasingly enamored with. Thank you. 🎄
As I started putting this post together I was concerned that the excerpt might be too long, however reading it a few times I realised it worked perfectly and pulled the reader in and had to stay! Wow, I love the sound of ‘Slaves in the Family’ and Elaine’s book sounds like a perfect accompaniment! Like you I know little about this fascinating and explosive era. Johanna, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here – and thank you so much for all your lovely comments!😀😃
The pleasure is all mine. 🎄
Using extracts in a review, as you do here, is surely the best way to go when reviewing: it gives readers a chance to experience the work at first hand, otherwise they have to take the reviewer’s word for it or check out the title online where that is possible. (Not that I wouldn’t take your word for it. of course!)
Rod, haha, I had to smile at your lovely last sentence! Ahh..thank you for taking my word. Seriously I agree though and excerpts are a terrific way to get a real feel for the book, the way it’s written, style, language used. I often check out later the first few pages too. Hopefully by then a buyer can make an informed decision whether to read on. Wishing you a happy First of
Being a keen reader of Bernard Cornwall’s books I am very intersted in historical fiction. I was aware of the war of 1812 in America but not aware of what was going on in Canada around that time. I have bookedmarked this triology for future reading.
This book sounds just perfect for such a fan of historical fiction – maybe you should start with the first one! I agree this war does seem to fall under the radar here in Europe so an enlightening book I’m sure! Thank you for your comment!
Civil war must be a terrible thing to live through, Annika. I haven’t read much relating to the American one. Enjoy your weekend! 🙂 🙂
Jo, as with all wars the effect on the normal people on the ground is catastrophic and I agree civil war must be terrible to live through – don’t we see that on our Tv screens every night. Elaine’s book seems to capture that personal story and the growth within the characters sounds central to its premise. Wishing you a lovely First of Advent!
This sounds wonderful. That was an amazing period in American history and I love exploring it through the eyes of someone who’s lived it. Thanks for sharing this, Annika.
Thank you, Jacuqi and the best historical novels are those catching the events and feelings from ‘normal’ people at the time – this seems to tick all the boxes. I think it is especially fascinating since Elaine’s descendants were members of the Loyalists of which she writes.
Annika, this sounds like a wonderful book. I’ve studied that period from the American Revolution thru the War of 1812. Not only in America were things happening but in Europe also with the French Revolution and Napolean. I’ve always loved to read Historical Fiction so I need to add this one to my list which is getting very long.
Thanks for the great review… JC
It does seem like a very turbulent time in history and although I’ve read quite a lot about happenings in Europe, this book and the others in the set sound a wonderful read to learn more about events across the Atlantic – as with all good historical novels it catches the viewpoint from that of the characters ‘living’ it then. Ditto on the long list…I’m working with three tbr lists – one of bloggers books, one for NetGalley books and then my own private one! Think if I give up on sleeping I should catch up! 😀
Wonderful introduction to Elaine’s writing here. I’m bookmarking this one. The excerpt was captivating, and I do enjoy historical fiction. Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂
Thank you, Debby. 😀 I was aware that historical fiction might not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ so wanted to make it as captivating as possible. The excerpt is a real gem and I’m happy the book is of interest to you. Wishing you a fabulous Thanksgiving!😃
Thank you Annika. Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving. 🙂
Thanks so much, Dgkaye! Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Will it include some reading time?
Thanks Elaine. It’s not looking so. But thanks, wishing you the same. 🙂
I love that it’s set in Canada (I’m on the West Coast). Wonderful to learn about this book now as I just read a historical romance. I’m fairly new to historical fiction so it’s great to read these excerpts here.
I know, Christy I wasn’t aware of how widely involved Canada was in these wars and their own…the joy of historical fiction a great story but also learning along the way! This seems like a good book for newbies to historical fiction. 😃
What a great review, Annika, as always. You picked out some wonderful excerpts. I haven’t read much historical fiction, but I can see why it’s so popular. Good luck to Elaine on her book 🙂
Thank you, Diana and the excerpt is beautiful and captivating – hopefully it will edge more readers towards this genre which perhaps they felt was inaccessible before.Wishing you a special Thanksgiving!😀
Really great review/book tour Annika, another profession?:)
You give such clear guidelines and the excerpts are great and enticing.
I used to read a lot of historical novels as it made history come alive.
Facts, dates etc in school were to me very limiting of lives led.
Thank you, Mirja! 😀 It’s been fun being part of this virtual book tour although don’t know about it as a new profession! 😃😀 Now if it involved actual travel…well, that would be another matter! I think the joy of historical fiction is that it brings the past alive and makes it more real and accessible – thankfully history is taught more along these lines nowadays.
Mirja, you sound like me! audiences are always surprised when I tell them I hated history in school and yet now I write historical fiction. The difference is the approach, isn’t it? I love to know what the ordinary and not so ordinary people did under shocking circumstances. And Annika has done a fabulous job of pointing her readers to some pretty difficult times for my characters. Thanks for commenting. 🙂
Excellent review, Annika. Love historical fiction, and I’m always glad to read reviews, even if for a glimpse and bookmarking.
Yeah, another historical fiction fan – so this will be of particular interest to you. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Khaya!😀
Wonderful review and excerpt, Annika. I’m adding Elaine’s book to my TBR. Thanks so much for sharing!
Hey, Bette! Great to see you here. Hope you enjoy the books!
Thanks, Elaine! xo
Thank you so much, Bette and so glad this is captured your interest! Always a delight to share book ideas! Wishing you a lovely Thanksgiving! 😀
Thank you, Annika. Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays, my friend! 🙂 ❤
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Thanks, Annika, for your erudite article about my third book in the Loyalist trilogy. And thanks to the rest of your blog readers for their comments and their likes. So great to meet everyone! Come visit on my website and my blog where I’ll be happy to answer questions. www (dot) elainecougler (dot) com Also on my Facebook Author page.
Elaine, it’s been a delight being a host as part of your virtual book tour! 😀 From the comments it really has captured everyone’s imagination – well done! Wishing you best of luck with your latest book. 😃
Great review, Annika! The excerpt is intriguing. I haven’t read much historical fiction, but this sounds like a good one 🙂
Thank you, Julie. Like you I don’t read much historical fiction but the story and writing is excellent and captures the imagination. Happy Thanksgiving! 😀
Another great and erudite review. Historical fiction is my go to reading for relaxation. I definitely will bookmark this selection.
Ahh…thank you so much, Bernadette and great that this can be of interest for you. Happy reading and relaxing!😀
Thanks for introducing us to Elaine and her book, Annika. I enjoy the excerpt and that cover is terrific!
Thank you, Jill and so glad you also enjoyed the excerpt. I found myself carried away with the story and writing and didn’t want it to end! The cover is so eye-catching and sets the scene perfectly – it ties in across the trilogy set.