On March 7, students, professors and members of the community gathered in the Mount’s library to listen to a book discussion led by best-selling author April Smith. Smith met with readers to discuss her popular historical fiction novel, A Star for Mrs. Blake, which is this year’s selection for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s On The Same Page citywide book club.
Winning over the audience with her expert knowledge and knack for storytelling, Smith explained the historical background of her novel and the 7,000 American mothers in the 1930s who made the pilgrimage to France to visit their sons’ graves after being killed during World War 1.
“This was a forgotten footnote in history,” Smith told the crowd. “The bond between mothers and sons back then was very strong.”
Her novel breathed new life into the tale of Gold Star Mothers in an unforgettable story for those who read it. During World War 1, the term “Gold Star Mother” referred to the women that received a gold star after losing their son in battle. Today the revised term “Gold Star Parents” refers to the mothers and fathers who have lost their sons and daughters to war. Her timeless story has brought relevance from a past tale and shed new light on current parents who have lost their children in wars.
She shared the insight that the inspiration behind her book stemmed from reading her friend’s father’s diary. The journal belonged to Lt. Thomas Hammond, the Army officer who escorted Gold Star Mothers on these trips overseas. Smith dedicated 25 years to researching the stories of the fallen soldiers and their mothers’ voyages to find closure by saying final goodbyes. Smith described her own journey in researching the historical story, traveling to each place mentioned in the book, including the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France where the soldiers are buried.
The multi-faceted author is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer of dramatic series and movies for television and is also a mystery thriller novelist. Adding historic fiction writer to her line of work, Smith demonstrated in her visit to the Mount her experience and passion she has in storytelling.
At the end of her lecture Smith answered questions, gave advice to aspiring student writers and signed copies of her book. To learn more about April Smith visit her website at www.aprilsmith.net