Category Archives: New Hanover

New Hanover

Lights, Camera, Novel: Rene Gutteridge and John Ward’s Heart of the Country.

Heart of the Country labels itself as “A modern re-telling of The Prodigal story, in the form of Wall Street meets Sweet Home Alabama meets Nicholas Sparks.” Half of the references in that description speak to notions of down-home, good old-fashioned Southern families and romance. Sweet Home Alabama was a popular romantic comedy about a displaced Southerner who returns from New York City and her successful, sophisticated lifestyle, and winds up reconnecting with her roots. Nicholas Sparks, who has been blogged about on here in the past, is a notable North Carolina resident and something of an icon who has shaped popular romantic writing, and with it, the image of the state.

After Faith Carraday’s husband, Luke, is caught taking part in some shady business dealings, he is arrested. Faith abandons Luke and their life together in Manhattan and seeks solace with her father and sister in her hometown in Columbus County, North Carolina. Unfortunately, her reception is strained. Faith bolted from home when she was given the opportunity to attend Julliard. Since then she hasn’t remained close with her father, Calvin, and sister, Olivia. Olivia is jealous of sharing their father’s affections, and, Calvin has grown old and tired. As Faith tries to heal and sort out her life, Luke approaches his high society family and attempts to make amends.

The story was co-authored by novelist Rene Gutteridge and screenwriter/director/actor John Ward. As if taking a cue from Nicholas Sparks and his writing method in The Last Song, Heart of the Country was written in novel form and screenplay, fairly close together; Gutteridge indicates working with Ward’s material in her acknowledgement. Gutteridge took a larger role in the novel and Ward in the screenplay. Both the film and the novel were released in 2013. The film version was shot on location in Wilmington, North Carolina and New York City. Jana Kramer stars as Faith Carraday and Gerald McRaney, an actor primarily known for his work on TV shows, plays her father Calvin. Funnily enough, McRaney has an unlisted role in Nicholas Sparks’s upcoming adaptation, The Best of Me. Kramer played a supporting role in One Tree Hill – also set in North Carolina and filmed in Wilmington — in seasons 7 and 8 and the first two episodes in season 9. She left the show to pursue her country music career. During this film, Kramer gets a chance to flaunt her musical talents on screen with a few songs.

It’s not a surprising coincidence that One Tree Hill and Heart of the Country were filmed in Wilmington, however. Over the years, Wilmington has earned the nickname of “Hollywood of the East,” “Hollywood East,” and even “Wilmywood.” Our State attributes Wilmington’s major break in the film industry in the early 1980s to Dino DiLaurentiis’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter, which starred a young Drew Barrymore. DiLaurentiis was interested in finding a plantation for filming, and after a location scout shared a photo of Orton Plantation, DiLaurentiis was smitten. So smitten, in fact, that he built a studio in Wilmington.

Since Firestarter, Wilmington has been the backdrop to films like Blue Velvet, Weekend at Bernie’s, Sleeping with the Enemy, a handful of Nicholas Sparks adaptations, The Secret Life of Bees, and more. Wilmington Regional Film Commission has lists for Feature Films, TV Shows, Music Videos, and Commercials shot in the area. The North Carolina Film Office likewise has a listing of films and TV shows shot in the state. Of these films and TV shows listed, it might be interesting to consider how many were really set in North Carolina, or crafted to look like another location? Heart of the Country sticks close to home. Although the story is set in Columbus County and Wilmington is actually located in New Hanover County, the two counties neighbor each other on the southern tip of the state, so shooting in Wilmington wasn’t much of a departure from the storyline.

Read the original post that covers the novel version of Heart of the Country here. Both the novel and the film are available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Sources consulted: Bayridge Films, CMIL, Examiner, Facebook, Heart of the Country, IMDb (The Best of Me, Heart of the Country, Jana Kramer, Gerald McRaney, Sweet Home Alabama), Jana Kramer, NC Hollywood, North Carolina Film Office, Our State, Rene Gutteridge, Taste of Country, Wikipedia (Jana Kramer, Gerald McRaney, One Tree Hill), The Wilmywood Daily, Wilmington Regional Film Commission, Inc.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Coastal Plain, Columbus, Gutteridge, Rene, New Hanover, Religious/Inspirational, Ward, John

Ernest Beasley. Cape Fear Murders. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011.

capefearThe body count gets high in this novel of adultery, revenge, and abuse of power set in Lee County, North Carolina.  First one high school girl is raped and murdered, then another, and another, and another. When the father of the fourth victim becomes impatient with the pace of the investigation, he contacts retired United States Marshall, Kenneth Sadler.  Sadler, a widower, is happy for the work and grateful for an excuse to temporarily relocate away from the many widows in nearby Moore County who view him as a desirable catch.

Sadler does not get off on the right foot with Lee County Sheriff Joe Dorman.  While it’s natural that the local authorities do not welcome a private investigator from the outside, Sadler learns that Sheriff Dorman may have particular reasons for trying to keep a tight rein on this case.  Other discoveries raise questions about the behaviors and intentions of both high school students and the adults in their lives.  Whose behavior is more foolish? More dangerous?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Beasley, Ernest, Coastal Plain, Lee, Moore, Mystery, New Hanover

Perry Comer. Dead Man’s Clothes. United States: CreateSpace, 2012.

In the winter of 1864-65 Wilmington, North Carolina was the last open Confederate port on the Atlantic Coast and as such it was an important lifeline for the Confederacy.  Wilmington was protected by a huge earthwork fort eighteen miles downstream, Fort Fisher.  Every man in the fort knew that it was only a matter of time before the Union launched a coordinated attack on the fort and that the attack would involve the massing war ships of the Union navy and a sizable landing force of veteran fighters.  It isn’t hard to imagine how the men in the fort felt as they anticipated the battle of their lives.  But what would others at the fort–civilians–be thinking?  Dead Man’s Clothes attempts to answer that by imagining how the battle would have been experienced by three boys, Willie, Jeremy, and Tom.  The boys are orphans who have attached themselves to the Confederate encampment at the fort.  By performing personal chores for the soldiers, begging, and scrounging leftover food, clothes, and provisions, the boys attempt to stay alive in that cold winter.  Their survival is as precarious as their loyalty to each other is strong.  Knowing that a great battle is coming, Willie has made  a hideout for himself and his friends.  But how successful can a boy be in anticipating the chaos and horrors of a naval bombardment and a massive invasion?  Dead Man’s Clothes provides readers with an interesting perspective on a well known battle.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Comer, Perry, Historical, New Hanover

Shirley Lerch Crum. Nailed!!! Baltimore, MD: PublishAmerica, 2006.

Cathy Cleveland and her best friend Linda Tate almost died last summer when they inadvertently got involved in a diamond smuggling scheme.  Since then Linda has been living life to its fullest, and she is about to be married to dapper airline captain David Sokol.  Cathy has a wonderful man in her life, handsome FBI agent Peter Channing, but she is keeping him at arm’s length.  As a cancer survivor, Cathy is aware that that life can take some cruel turns, so she is reluctant to let Peter, whose wife died from cancer, know how she feels about him.

John Marley has provided Cathy with a nice diversion.  Marley is a visiting professor at the college where Cathy teaches, and she enjoys his company when he is in town.  But Professor Marley is out of town quite a bit, guest lecturing at a number of colleges in the Carolinas.  He’s quite the showman, demonstrating scientific principles in exciting lectures that sometimes include walking on hot coals or lying on a bed of nails.  As this novel opens, Cathy goes by campus to pick up Marley so that they can spend the evening together.  She finds that Marley has been murdered–someone tampered with his bed of nails.

As the person who found the body, Cathy is a suspect.  But Cathy saw Peter Channing on campus shortly before Marley’s murder, and she fears that he might have been jealous enough of Marley to kill him.  The mutual distrust prevents Cathy and Peter from cooperating, and puts Cathy and Linda in danger.  John Marley’s academic career was just a cover for a sinister conspiracy to destroy a number of beach communities.  In chapters that alternate between Cathy’s activities and those of the conspirators, author Crum reveals the details of the conspiracy, the self-interests and double-dealing of the conspirators, and the reasons that Cathy’s life is in danger.  The action-packed finish takes place during the Wrightsville Beach Holiday Flotilla.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Coast, Crum, Shirley Lerch, New Hanover, Suspense/Thriller

Suzanne Adair. Regulated for Murder.[United States: CreateSpace], 2011.

It’s 1781 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Lieutenant Michael Stoddard has just kicked down the door of a traitorous land agent named Horatio Bowater, when his commanding officer abruptly pulls him away. Michael is furious, especially since his role as chief investigating officer will now go to his young assistant, but Major Craig is adamant that he needs Stoddard for something else. Unfortunately, Michael’s new mission is that of a lowly courier: Craig wants him to deliver a message to a man working for Lord Cornwallis in Hillsborough, far away from the bustling seaport of Wilmington. So Stoddard reluctantly disguises himself for the dangerous journey across a colony in the throes of a revolution. But this mission will be far less simple, and far more perilous, than he thought.

When Michael arrives in Orange County, he finds the man he’s supposed to meet, a Mr. Griggs, has been murdered. More than that, the county sheriff is a corrupt and devious man, and he’s bent on finding out who Michael is and why he has come to Hillsborough. Michael takes refuge with a local woman and her daughter, posing as a nephew, but he doesn’t have much time to find out what happened to Griggs before the sheriff discovers his true identity. Unfortunately, an old nemesis picks this as the perfect time to come to town: the sadistic Duncan Fairfax of His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons. The last time they met, Stoddard barely escaped with his life…and Fairfax remembers him all too well. Will Michael solve Griggs’s murder and avoid his own?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Adair, Suzanne, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Orange, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Suzanne Adair. Camp Follower. [United States: CreateSpace], 2008.

At age seventeen in 1768, lowborn Helen Grey was sold in marriage to an old, corpulent merchant bound for the Americas. Her saving grace was her disgusting husband’s educated assistant, Jonathan Quill, who had to play Pygmalion to her Galatea in order to make Helen presentable for the aristocracy in the colonies. Now, twelve years later and nine years widowed, Helen is fighting to survive in wartime Wilmington, North Carolina. After her husband’s demise in a duel, his monetary estate mysteriously vanished, leaving Helen near penniless. She now ekes out a meager existence taking in embroidery work for wealthy ladies and writing a small society column in a Loyalist magazine.

Then Helen’s editor comes to her with a proposition: if she poses as the sister of a British officer in His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons, Helen could get close to Britain’s hero of the hour, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, and write a hard-to-acquire feature. Colonel Tarleton doesn’t approve of journalists, so Helen’s mission would be completely covert. But there is more beneath the surface of this apparently simple mission than meets the eye, and soon Helen is up to her neck in danger, intrigue, colonial spy rings, and the attentions of three separate men, one of whom is supposed to be posing as her brother. Traveling through a wild back country overrun with rebels, it’s possible that Helen’s greatest danger lies in the men supposedly protecting her best interests. Set in both North and South Carolina and concluding with the tactically decisive Battle of Cowpens, this romantic historical thriller combines an exciting time in the history of the United States with lots of imagination.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Adair, Suzanne, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Diane Chamberlain. The Good Father. Don Mills, Ontario: Mira Books, 2012.

Travis Brown is struggling. A single father at the young age of twenty-two, he loses his mother and home in Carolina Beach, North Carolina to a terrible fire. Beyond the grief of his mother’s death, Travis has also lost the only source of free, reliable childcare he has for his four-year-old daughter Bella. Without it, he can’t keep his job as a construction worker, and without work, he and Bella are quickly living on the edge of homelessness. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to reach out to Bella’s mother Robin, Travis’s high school sweetheart– Robin’s father forced Travis to sign a contract after Bella was born, swearing that Travis would never again seek to contact her.

Robin Saville is living in Beaufort, North Carolina. Born with a serious heart condition, her teenage pregnancy nearly killed her, but the recent gift of a new heart has given her new hope for life. Lied to by her father and believing Travis to be happily married, Robin puts him and her baby behind her, beginning work at a small bed and breakfast in the coastal town. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with Beaufort’s wealthiest son, Dale Hendricks, but she does, and they quickly  engaged. The Hendricks clan are a central pillar of Beaufort life: politically active and well-connected, they present a perfect facade to the rest of the world. That is, until teenaged Alissa Hendricks, the youngest and proverbial black sheep of the family, gets pregnant. Suddenly Robin can’t stop thinking of her baby, and what she gave up. But how could she ever have her daughter back in her life?

Living in a trailer park in Carolina Beach and relying on the kindness of a new neighbor to look after Bella, Travis fruitlessly searches for work. But then the neighbor, a beautiful woman named Savannah, mentions that a friend in Raleigh has sure construction work. All Travis has to do is pick up and go. It seems tenuous, but Travis is desperate, so he and Bella hit the road for the state capital. But when they arrive, the situation is much different, and much more dangerous, than Travis was lead to believe. He’s willing to do anything for Bella…but will he do something that means he might lose her forever?

In a style that readers of Diane Chamberlain have come to know and love, the author weaves together three separate voices and lives to create yet another beautiful tale of parents and children in the Old North State.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Carteret, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, New Hanover, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Barbara Wright. Crow. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012.

“We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of negroes, even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.”
-Alfred Moore Waddell, leader of the 1898 Wilmington race riots

The only complete overthrow of a local government in US history, the Wilmington race riots successfully removed the Fusionist party from power in the North Carolina town of Wilmington. In early November, a group of  insurrectionists known as the Red Shirts seized power from the legally elected officials, both white and black. Armed with rifles and a Gatling gun mounted on a wagon, they burned the offices of the  local African-American newspaper and wounded, killed, or ran off the majority of the black population.

Crow is the story of this coup, as seen through the eyes of Moses Thomas, a young African-American boy just entering the sixth grade. Moses is a typical child; he likes swimming, eating pie, riding bicycles, and getting into a little trouble now and again. Bright and motivated to learn, he loves going to school and finding new words, but lately he’s been frustrated. There’s trouble brewing in Wilmington, and no one will explain what’s going on. Groups of men in red clothing walk the streets, getting drunk and listening to angry speeches, and he isn’t allowed to enter the slogan contest at the hardware store, even though he’s under 18 and has the best entry. Worst of all, everyone is whispering words like “lynching” and “rape” without telling Moses what they mean.

Despite the tension,  Moses is mostly happy. His daddy, Jack Thomas, is an educated and honest man who works as a reporter for the Record in addition to serving as an alderman. Father and son share a particularly special bond, and together they spend hours playing word games and discussing philosophy. The other pillar of Moses’ life is Boo Nanny, his aged grandmother. Boo Nanny is the opposite of her son-in-law Jack in many ways–superstitious, filled with stories and poems, and prone to making bad-smelling medicinal concoctions. A cautious person lacking in self-esteem due to the abuse she endured as a slave, Boo Nanny’s ideas on the best ways to approach the growing conflict with white Wilmingtonians often cause her to clash with Jack, but the little family loves one another deeply all the same.

But with election day looming and the Red Shirt violence increasing, will the relative peace of Moses’ small world be shattered forever? A mature and heartbreaking look at an often ignored piece of American history, Wright’s novel, though aimed at young adults, will capture readers of all ages.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Wright, Barbara

Chris Forman. Killer Cuisine. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace, 2011.

Ian Porthos Wallace feels lucky to live in the lovely (fictional) town of Port City on the coast of North Carolina. There, he makes his living as a local food critic and photographer, and indulges in his love for wearing the kilts of his Scottish ancestors whenever he can. He most definitely isn’t a detective, but because he tries his hand now and then at writing mystery novels, his friend Demos Spyros begs him to help solve a case. Their mutual friend Nick has been falsely accused of murdering his boss, chef Mitchell Reede, and Demos is convinced that Ian can prove Nick innocent. Ian isn’t so sure–he’s no professional gumshoe–but eventually he agrees to give it his best shot. It helps that Demos’s attractive sister, and Ian’s off-again-on-again girlfriend, Athena, owns a store near the crime scene. Athena, traumatized years ago by an abusive husband, has been more than a little distant up until now, but lately Ian is convinced that she’s making a real effort to open up to him.  The sensitive food-critic-turned-investigator does what he can to encourage her feelings, but he is distracted by the murder, which only gets more mysterious as the evidence piles up. Worst of all, it’s starting to look as though Athena’s no-good, abusive ex is back in town, and possibly involved with the crime. As the situation heats up, it’s all Ian can do to keep Athena safe and solve the mystery at the same time.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Forman, Chris, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels Set in Fictional Places

John Sayles. A Moment in the Sun. San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2011.

This big book takes readers back to the America of the late nineteenth century with all of that period’s optimism, adventurism, technological progress–and its imperialism and racism.  Part of the story takes place in Wilmington, North Carolina where two families–one white, one African American–experience both imperialism and racism in very different ways.  The Manigaults, a powerful white family, resent the changes that the Confederate defeat brought.  The family patriarch, Judge Cornelius Manigault, values his honor and disdains the rabble who are organizing to take back the state for the white man.  Still, in the end the Judge joins forces with the men who are plotting to suppress the African American vote on election day, only to be surprised by the violence that follows.  Dr. Lunceford is the patriarch of an African American family who has made a comfortable place for himself and his family.  Feeling part of this country and yet eager to see the wider world, his son Junior volunteers to fight for America in Cuba.  Neither patriotism nor a life of honor and service will protect the Luncefords; their community in Wilmington will be destroyed.  The Luncefords head north, to New York, and a life of struggle. The judge’s son, Niles, Junior Lunceford, and Junior’s good friend Royal Scott will cross paths in the Philippines;  not all of them will return.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Click here to see documentary material on the election of 1898 in North Carolina.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Sayles, John