Monthly Archives: September 2019

A Parliament of Crows – Part 3

IFD Publishing is reissuing Alan M. Clark’s historical novel A Parliament of Crows as part of its new boutique imprint Horror that Happened – Based on a True Story. This is a continuation of my experience re-reading the book.

You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

ParliamentCover

As the three Wardlaw sisters (renamed Mortlow for the purposes of this work of historical fiction) continue their reign of criminality, they alternate from being sneaky co-conspirators to being suspicious and intolerant of one another. Clark handles these back-and-forth changes in demeanor very well, as the women seem to delight in tormenting Carolee’s daughter and Mary’s remaining living son. They present a united front when investigated for their nefarious doings, but behind the scenes, they don’t seem to appreciate one another.

Tensions ratchet up as they take sides with one another, alliances always shifting, as they commit more and more murders, as they perpetuate more and more crimes of insurance fraud.

The horrific climax of the book melds the wretched turning point of the sisters’ starvation at the end of the Civil War and the turning point of the trial, and Vertiline’s illness in jail.

No one does well in the wake of these sisters, and this true tale is chilling in its cold-bloodness, stepped in historic culture.

An excellent work of historical fiction.

HTH-BasedonTrueStory

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A Parliament of Crows – Part 2

IFD Publishing is reissuing Alan M. Clark’s historical novel A Parliament of Crows as part of its new boutique imprint, Horror that Happened – Based on a True Story.  This is a continuation of my experience re-reading the book. You can find Part 1 here.

ParliamentCover

When the Civil War ended and their father died, the three sisters were left with nothing but worthless Confederate notes. They were destitute, and needed to find a way to begin to rebuild their lives, and pay their own way.

Clark deftly moves from the days of the trial and their time in jail back to the days that formed the women’s personalities, including hiding from freed, starving slaves and Union soldiers during the Civil War and beyond.

Carolee’s convenient marriage to a Civil War soldier set them up for a time, but Carolee wasn’t cut out to be a wife and mother. The three women all wore black, all the time, and looking much alike, were continually misidentified as one another. They made their way in the world, discovering that despicable crimes of insurance fraud and murder could pay that way.

The courtroom drama plays out with increasing tension as the prosecutors, looking into Orphelia’s death, make accusations that ignite indignation and therefore inappropriate outbursts from Vertiline. Is she her own worst enemy in every way?

 

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Next week: Part 3

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A Parliament of Crows (Part 1 of 3)

IFD Publishing is reissuing Alan M. Clark’s historical novel A Parliament of Crows as part of its new boutique imprint, Horror that Happened – Based on a True Story.

ParliamentCover

I’m re-reading this fascinating bit of history that took place in Georgia just after the Civil War, and will review the work here in three parts.For creative license, the author has changed the names from Wardlaw to Mortlow.

The story opens with three Wardlaw sisters, Vertiline, Carolee, and Mary, on trial for the murder of Carolee’s daughter, Orphelia.  Between court sessions, they are housed in a particularly disgusting jail, kept in cells far from one another. Vertiline, the eldest, tries to keep control of the situation, or at least control of her younger siblings. Carolee and Mary. But of course she was not in control of anything. Not anymore.

Carolee and Mary, twins, have an almost supernatural connection of communication, but as the trial goes on, Mary appears to lose the will to live, and pressure mounts on Vertiline.

Clark draws on his vast experience and knowledge of Civil War society in this book, interspersing a lot of the women’s history in the war-torn south. There’s a reason the three were charged with this crime, and he paints a very disturbing picture of their upbringing with a father who was a harsh disciplinarian.

In the Author’s Note, Clark discusses the fact that very little information is available about these women and their personalities, or their inner lives. This is the fictional part. The horror of their lives and deeds is pure fact.

HTH-BasedonTrueStory

I’ll continue my assessment of this book as I continue reading.

 

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