Follow the Stars Home (Hardcover)

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Follow the Stars Home (Hardcover)


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A captivating reimagining of the intrepid woman who – 8 months pregnant and with a toddler in tow – braved violent earthquakes and treacherous waters on the first steamboat voyage to conquer the Mississippi River and redefine America. 

The acclaimed author of The Seamstress of New Orleans brings to life Lydia Latrobe Roosevelt’s defiant journey of 1811 in this lush, evocative biographical novel for fans of Paula McLain, Gill Paul, Allison Pataki, and stories about extraordinary yet little-known female adventurers…

It’s a journey that most deem an insane impossibility. Yet on October 20th, 1811, Lydia Latrobe Roosevelt—daughter of one of the architects of the United States Capitol—fearlessly boards the steamship New Orleans in Pittsburgh. Eight months pregnant and with a toddler in tow, Lydia is fiercely independent despite her youth. She’s also accustomed to defying convention. Against her father’s wishes, she married his much older business colleague, inventor Nicholas Roosevelt—builder of the New Orleans—and spent her honeymoon on a primitive flatboat. But the stakes for this trip are infinitely higher.

If Nicholas’s untried steamboat reaches New Orleans, it will serve as a profitable packet ship between that city and Natchez, proving the power of steam as it travels up and down the Mississippi. Success in this venture would revolutionize travel and trade, open the west to expansion, and secure the Roosevelts’ future.

Lydia had used her own architectural training to design the flatboat’s interior, including a bedroom, sitting area, and fireplace. The steamship, however, dwarfs the canoes and flatboats on the river. And no amount of power or comfort could shield its passengers from risk. Lydia believes herself ready for all the dangers ahead—growing unrest among native people, disease or injury, and the turbulent Falls of the Ohio, a sixty-foot drop long believed impassable in such a large boat.

But there are other challenges in store, impossible to predict as Lydia boards that fall day. Challenges which—if survived—will haunt and transform her, as surely as the journey will alter the course of a nation . . .
Diane C. McPhail is an artist, minister, and acclaimed author of Follow the Stars Home, The Abolitionist’s Daughter, and The Seamstress of New Orleans, which was a finalist for the Thomas Wolf Fiction Award and the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award. A graduate of Ole Miss, Duke Writers, University of Iowa Distance, and the Yale Writers' Conference, she is a member of NC Writers Network and the Historical Novel Society. She was born and raised in Jackson, MS only miles from the Mississippi River and now lives in Highlands, North Carolina with her husband and dog. For more information, please visit Diane online at
Product Details ISBN: 9781496750884
ISBN-10: 1496750888
Publisher: A John Scognamiglio Book
Publication Date: August 20th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English
Praise for Diane McPhail

“McPhail entices with the story of two women from different backgrounds who discover common ground in turn of the 20th-century New Orleans…An undercurrent of New Orleans’s dark side propels the story, heightening the tension and supplying McPhail with a wealth of evocative details. Historical fiction fans will be drawn to this.” —Publishers Weekly on The Seamstress of New Orleans
“From the captivating first line, The Seamstress of New Orleans transports the reader to the mystery and sultry magic of New Orleans. With McPhail’s acclaimed and atmospheric prose, The Seamstress of New Orleans is a tale of well-guarded secrets, societal bonds that must be broken, and women’s powerful resilience. A powerful and fascinating story." Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah on The Seamstress of New Orleans
“In a time and place when women were relegated to the home, these New Orleans ladies set about crafting their own future. Story threads of missing husbands, menacing gamblers, and a society on the cusp of changing women's rights weave together to form a riveting tale. The history of the first all female krewe was so captivating that it sent me to do some googling for extra information. McPhail has stitched an impressive work of historical fiction that will fuel plenty of book club discussions.” Pamela Klinger-Horn, Valley Bookseller (Stillwater, MN) on The Seamstress of New Orleans
“Reading this novel is like dining on a creole dish: rich, mysterious and oh so satisfying.” Fran Ziegler, Titcomb’s Bookshop (East Sandwich, MA) on The Seamstress of New Orleans
“McPhail has created a novel that is at once a mystery and a novel of feminine friendship and empowerment. She reminds the reader of how constricted life for women at the turn of the century was, and she illustrates this with two very different characters…The Seamstress of New Orleans leaves you wanting more of New Orleans, a place that is saturated with history. It is a perfect summer book to sit back with a glass of sweet tea and enjoy.” —New York Journal of Books on The Seamstress of New Orleans
"Inspired by a real-life feud between two Mississippi families, McPhail's first novel sheds light on an often unrecognized part of Civil War history, the Southern abolitionist movement...For fans of Charles Frazier's enduring Cold Mountain.” —Booklist on The Abolitionist’s Daughter
"McPhail is great at showing differences, but also frightening similarities, in the attitudes about slaves between Union versus Confederate soldiers. A well-researched story into the lives of Southern Abolitionists." —The Historical Novels Review on The Abolitionist’s Daughter
"The dialogue, scenery, and daily routines of the characters in McPhail's novel as well as the state of mind of the country during one of the most turbulent times in history is quickly brought to life. This is an absorbing story sure to capture the hearts of historical fiction fans who appreciate a uniquely told tale of those willing to defy the status quo with bravery and steadfastness." —The New York Journal of Books on The Abolitionist’s Daughter
"McPhail's...debut centers on a land dispute in the antebellum South...Many intriguing threads." —Publishers Weekly on The Abolitionist’s Daughter
"Diane McPhail excavates a nearly forgotten corner of American history and brings it to full, beating life. This is a fascinating and heartfelt look at the kinds of stories that don't always make it into the history books." Louis Bayard, author of Courting Mr. Lincoln on The Abolitionist’s Daughter
"A contender, a deeply felt, thoroughly researched good as it deserves to be." Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author on The Abolitionist’s Daughter