Thursday, December 8, 2016

Publishers Weekly Review of Transfer Day

I have chills. Back in 2008 when I set out to fulfill a childhood dream to write a book that would recreate the Danish colonial era of St. Thomas, the island of my youth, I was perhaps a little naive. After all, I had no idea the enormity and complexity of the task I was to undertake. But I persevered, I stuck to my guns, and along the way I had some major breakthroughs. I combed through records in the National Archives, I contacted people all over the world, some of whom have become lifelong friends. I made discoveries that shocked me; I learned so much about WWI history and how it affected even tiny, insignificant corners of the globe. In the end, I believe Transfer Day is a beautiful story that brings to life the Danish Colonial period, a part of history that both the Danes, the Americans, and the people of the Virgin Islands are in danger of losing. My rationale for doing this was: "since no one else had done it, I'll do it." I believed deeply that it had to be done. And so, I am truly grateful for this beautiful review from Publishers Weekly. I hope that with the weight of the most respected literary publication in the United States behind this project, more people will be able to discover this story and fall in love with the characters as I have. I dedicated Transfer Day to Mrs. Louise Brady, a beloved and revered St. Thomas educator who I count as a great influence in my life. I hope she would be proud of this book. Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed the book. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me. I love the history of these beautiful islands, and I hope more people will discover it in the pages of this book!

The 1917 transfer of the Danish West Indies to the United States, which forestalled imperial Germany’s hopes to control strategically valuable ports during WWI, provides the background for Schiller’s engaging historical thriller. In 2001, journalist Søren Jensen, still grieving over the loss of his wife, travels from Copenhagen to the Virgin Islands to investigate a report that documents exist supporting the claim of Abigail Maduro to have “personally thwarted a German invasion” of the islands. Abigail recently died at the age of 101, and Søren meets her granddaughter, Claire Lehman, a possible new love interest (Claire’s eyes have “an inner fire, a boldness that resonated deep within him”). Claire gives Søren access to her ancestor’s diary, which details the teenage Abigail’s growth into self-sufficiency and her role in countering German espionage before the sale of the islands. Schiller deftly blends fact and fiction in a page-turner with emotional resonance. 

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