Monday, April 26, 2021

Review Letters Across the Sea - Interview with author Genevieve Graham

Today it's my great honor to feature an author who has become a must read, a Canadian who loves to bring little known Canadian history to light for her readers. I absolutely LOVED Letters Across the Sea and I know when you learn more about it you will want to read it too! 
Genevieve is hosting a book launch party on her FaceBook page on release day tomorrow April 27th, Genevieve would love you all to participate and I have more information about it below.

ISBN-13: 978-1982169343
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 
Release Date: 4-27-2021
Length: 384pp
Source: Author/Publisher for review
Buy It: Amazon/ B&N/ IndieBound


Inspired by a little-known chapter of World War II history, a young Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour are caught up in the terrible wave of hate sweeping the globe on the eve of war in this powerful love story that’s perfect for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

If you’re reading this letter, that means I’m dead. I had obviously hoped to see you again, to explain in person, but fate had other plans.

At eighteen years old, Molly Ryan dreams of becoming a journalist, but instead she spends her days working any job she can to help her family through the Depression crippling her city. The one bright spot in her life is watching baseball with her best friend, Hannah Dreyfus, and sneaking glances at Hannah’s handsome older brother, Max.

But as the summer unfolds, more and more of Hitler’s hateful ideas cross the sea and “Swastika Clubs” and “No Jews Allowed” signs spring up around Toronto, a city already simmering with mass unemployment, protests, and unrest. When tensions between the Irish and Jewish communities erupt in a riot one smouldering day in August, Molly and Max are caught in the middle, with devastating consequences for both their families.


Six years later, the Depression has eased and Molly is a reporter at her local paper. But a new war is on the horizon, putting everyone she cares about most in peril. As letters trickle in from overseas, Molly is forced to confront what happened all those years ago, but is it too late to make things right?

From the desperate streets of Toronto to the embattled shores of Hong Kong, Letters Across the Sea is a poignant novel about the enduring power of love to cross dangerous divides even in the darkest of times—from the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child.

Details about the Book Launch

Genevieve will be hosting a facebook live chat on her author page (
with Bookstagrammer Jenna Bahen (@FlowersFavouriteFiction) at Noon Eastern on 4-27-2021
and will include a book chat (of course!), prizes (2 sets of my full collection - one for a Canadian winner, and one for an American winner!), and she will be reading Chapter 1.

My Interview with Genevieve:

Genevieve Hi! Thanks for stopping by The Reading Frenzy once again to chat about yet another wonderful new book. I absolutely love how much truth you put into your fiction, it’s actually my favorite way to learn about history.

Letters Across The Sea takes place before and during the WWII war years for Canada. I hope they’re teaching better/truer history now in schools because I never learned out how much anti-Semitic feelings there really was all over the world and not just in Germany.
Was the history of the Christie Pitts riot something Canadians learn in school or does your history like ours have a way of brushing certain dirty things under the rug?
From everything I am learning lately for my novels, I’d say we had to have a very large rug. There are so many things I didn’t know, and when I ask around, very few Canadians are aware of the history I’m covering. I grew up in Toronto, and I’ve been to all the places in the book – including Christie Pits – but I had no idea of the extent of the antisemitism, and I had never heard of the Riot.

In the novel you bring to the forefront how different publications reported the news very differently and like today where the internet and other broadcast mediums are loaded with “real” fake news it’s actually interesting to learn that it’s not a new thing and it’s even more interesting how like today people just put blinders on and believed what they were told because it was reported that way.
Did you know before writing this book just how much the media of the day contributed to the simmering divisions?
I didn’t know about that, but I did know about Hitler’s genius as a propaganda master. Two months after he became the chancellor of Germany (Jan 1933), they put in the “Enabling Act”, which gave Hitler and the Nazis free reign to do as they pleased, basically. Hitler shut down all competing radio, newspaper, and news reels; he had the airwaves all to himself. If any wrongdoings were suggested, he denied them all, and dissenting opinions were quickly silenced. When the news traveled across the ocean at first, it raised very few alarms. For the most part, it sounded as if Hitler was solving problems for Germany, not causing them for so many other people. When rumours surfaced, talking about what was really happening, papers like Toronto’s Telegram made light of them or flatly denied them. The mainstream denial of the truth fed groups like the Swastika Clubs, who viewed the Jewish people as needlessly complaining and trying to spread falsehoods. It’s eerie how similar that is to today, isn’t it?
Yes it is!

Canadians ending up in the hands of the Japanese as POWs was also a focus in this story and the brutality they endured and many who didn’t survive because they were treated in some cases worse than the Nazis treated their concentration camp prisoners. I’ve read other accounts about the way the Japanese treated not only their POWs but also the civilians who resided in the places they occupied. In fact I read that the Japanese murdered from 3 to 10 million civilians during the course of the war. You manage to show not only the ugly things that humans do to each other but also the kind and good things too.
How much of a toll does learning some of these atrocities take on you as a writer?
There’s no way to harden myself against these truths, and yet they must be told. So I have shed countless tears over my stories, and I know there will be so many more. I believe it is the responsibility of historical fiction authors to tell history in a way that the facts will not easily be forgotten, and the only way to do that is to connect on a deeply personal level. For example, if you see a car crash, you will remember it for a few days. But if you know someone who was in that car crash, you most likely will never forget it. So to create that kind of emotional connection, and to write a compelling, historically accurate story, I must immerse myself in the time and the event. I must become, in a way, one of the characters in the novel. It’s very emotional, but so fulfilling at the same time. I love what I get to do!

Max and Molly are definitely two star-crossed lovers but they’re not your first ones.
Is part of the thrill for you as a writer to make these seemingly impossible dreams come true?
Definitely. Every character has their own arc in every book, but so do their relationships. The emotional connection I need to establish usually comes to me in a love story, and it is the characters’ struggle to be together that creates a compelling story. I love my characters, and I know how much they love each other. Now how can I create an atmosphere where they will have to prove that love? Oh yes, it’s definitely part of the thrill and the challenge to writing!

Speaking of your characters do you have favorites and if so who was yours in this novel?
For some reason, I always connect more deeply with the male leads in my books, and I loved Max so much. I love to use actors as models for them, allowing me to note their expressions, hand movements, attitudes, etc and Max, for me, was actor Michiel Huisman. Before Max, my favourite was Jack from The Forgotten Home Child, and for years before that it was my first Canadian protagonist, Danny Baker from Tides of Honour.
Yes I can see why you’d like both of those male leads and I have to admit that Danny Baker is one of my all time favorite characters. I also loved that he was in two of your books.

What was the most interesting thing you learned while researching this book that you didn’t know about before?
The fun part for me is that I really know nothing about anything in my books before I start. I write about these moments in our history because I was never taught any of it, and if I was, I slept through it. So for the first part of the book, I think it’s the same as what you said: I had no idea of the level of antisemitism and the rage that was bubbling to the surface that hot summer. But the part of the book that shocked me the most was the story of C Force, the men who were sent to Hong Kong, undertrained and under armed, then either killed or subjected to survival in a brutal Japanese POW camp for almost four years. Then, of course, I learned about how these men were basically ignored when they returned. That broke my heart.

WWII isn’t a new era for you to write about and it’s actually my favorite era to read both fiction and non-fiction because there are so many things we humans can NEVER forget about this time and there are just so few people left who lived through it to share their experiences.
Do you have a favorite period to write about?
I love all early 20th century best, I think. World War 1 and 2 are both treasure troves of stories, and I constantly have a couple more on the go.
Oh I can’t wait

Thank you Genevieve for taking the time to answer some questions. Are you still homebound tour wise because of COVID and if so are you having some virtual book release events?
I am homebound, but I’m fine with that! It’s just an excuse to stay at my desk and write! There are a lot of plans for zoom appearances after the release, and I’m particularly excited to invite you and your readers to my facebook page (Genevieve Graham, Author) on April 27 at noon ET for my Facebook Live launch party! I’ll be doing a reading, a couple of giveaways, and answering readers’ questions. I hope I’ll see you there!
Oh I’m putting it on my calendar right now and here’s a link for my readers-

My Review:

Letters Across The Sea

Genevieve Graham



Genevieve Graham’s latest novel set during WWII is a historical gem about the atrocities of war, loss, hope survival and redemption.

As always Genevieve entertains and educates her readers with her latest insightful novel, Letters Across The Sea, bringing some little known pieces of Canadian history to life. This time she transports readers to Toronto just as Hitler is coming to power in Germany and authentically captures the emotional turmoil going on in the once peaceful Canadian neighborhoods due to the depression and rising anti-Semitism, then throughout the war years as she chronicles the trials of her characters, characters that she wonderfully paints with a reality brush making them utterly believable, especially Molly who is beautifully portrayed, an incredibly strong woman in a male dominated field and a gentile falling in love with a Jew. She’s also captured the emotions of both her domestic and war scenes that will leave her audience enraged, enraptured and at times in tears as she amazingly breathes life back into the Christie Pits Riot in Toronto and into the Canadian soldiers serving in Hong Kong during WWII and the monstrous way the Japanese treated them as POWs. Plus her chosen timeline of WWII is so important especially since so few remain who lived through these tumultuous times. Fans of WWII fiction, literary historical fiction and Canadian history and of this incredibly talented author will find this hard to put down.


The Ryan and Dreyfus families were friends and neighbors their whole lives and the parents and children were best friends, it never mattered that the Ryan’s were Protestants and the Dreyfus’s were Jews that is until it did. And just like what started in Europe and was making its hateful way around the globe, Canadians lost their minds and depending on faith pitted friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor.

Molly Ryan had to put her dream of being a journalist on hold when the depression forced her to quit school and get a job to help support her family. And the anti-Semitic movement made her budding attraction to Max Dreyfus more forbidden then it had been previously. But nothing could prepare her for reporting about the travesties of war.

Max Dreyfus’s dream of being a doctor got harder when Canada limited the number of Jews allowed to attend medical school and it made his new desire for Molly a more impossible dream. But dreaming of her also kept him alive and sane during the war when those two things were almost impossible.


About the author:
Genevieve Graham is the #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child, Tides of Honour, Promises to Keep, Come from Away, and At the Mountain’s Edge. She is passionate about breathing life back into Canadian history through tales of love and adventure. She lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit her at or on Twitter and Instagram @GenGrahamAuthor.






  1. This sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing Debbie.

  2. Replies
    1. Oh I want this on audio too! Can't wait to see what you think!

  3. Oh I missed who the author was until the end, lol, I am tired it seems. But yay, I like her books so this is sure to be good

  4. That sounds like it would probably be a hard book to read. That time period was hard and I can't even imagine being there.

  5. She does write excellent Canadian history. I forget they went from the Depression to WW2 and we think we have it bad!! Hope its a great launch.

  6. I love the way her books bring little known history to life. It may be Canadian history, but it sheds light on history and contemporary times universally. Great interview! I look forward to reading her latest.