Apalachicola has been selected as one of the stops for the fall book tour of Stephanie Dray, best-selling author of historical women’s fiction.
Dray’s visit here is part of the Apalachicola Margaret Key Library’s Susan Buzzett Clementson Author Series. The PALS group, (Patrons of Apalachicola Library Society) which sponsors the series, is planning an outstanding event for this author, to be held in the French Consulate Suites at 76 Water Street, above Apalachicola’s Grady Market.
Dray’s presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 15, begins with a PALS members reception from 4:30 to 5:30, followed by the author’s presentation with a question-and-answer session, book sales and booksigning, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., free and open to the public.
Her newest novel, Ribbons of Scarlet, is set for release just prior to her visit here and will be featured in the presentation. The newest novel, co-authored with five other best-selling authors of historical women’s fiction, takes place during the French Revolution, and the French theme will be emphasized throughout the event.
This is Dray’s ninth novel, and follows on the heels of her most-recently acclaimed novels, My Dear Hamilton, about the life of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton, and America’s First Daughter, about Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter. Both are compelling, richly researched novels that give readers an in-depth look at two important historic figures in the early days of our country with fascinating insights into the intrigues, secrets, and scandals known only to those closest to them.
Both novels received critical acclaim. Best-selling author Erika Robuk said about America’s First Daughter, “Not since Gone With the Wind has a single-volume family saga so brilliantly portrayed the triumphs, trials, and sins of a family in the American South.” The New Yorker contributing writer, Kate Quinn, said My Dear Hamilton was “The book of the year!”
The Apalachicola visit of Stephanie Dray affirms the lifelong work of Susan Buzzett Clementson, a native of Apalachicola and a lifelong advocate of libraries, literature, and literary programs. As a tribute to her advocacy of the power of the written word, the author series was developed to bring national and regional authors to our community, in programs that would always be free and open to the public.
Dray’s visit signifies the increasing prestige of the author series in attracting top literary talent to our area. Members of the Clementson family, along with Susan’s close personal friend and literary agent Kathie Bennett and PALS of the Margaret Key Library, provide opportunities for residents and visitors to our area to hear and meet recognized authors.
Local interest in Ribbons of Scarlet should be piqued by the French connection to our community. Prior to the Civil War, the French government established a consulate in Apalachicola, to protect the interests of French businesses and citizens who conducted trade here and bought goods, shipped from Apalachicola.
Apalachicola shipping and trade started in 1831, and Apalachicola was one of the three most important shipping ports in the South. In 1850 Monsieur Rosan, the French Consul here, made a wager with a guest staying at Apalachicola’s leading hotel, that he would have cold champagne to serve on July 14 for his Bastille Day celebration.
Because of his association with local physician Dr. John Gorrie, who had invented a machine to convert water to ice to help cool patients in his clinic, Rosan had access to ice and won the wager. Gorrie’s ice machine became known as the first in the world.
Unfortunately for the doctor, Rosan took this knowledge with him back to France, and shared it with the French scientist, Ferdinand Carre, who used it to create a smaller, simpler version of the Gorrie Ice Machine that he sold to competing ports in New Orleans, where the Carre machine ultimately became the commercial success.
Dray’s books are available for purchase at the event, or prior to it at Downtown Books and Purl on Commerce Street.