Shelley Mickle

Shelley Mickle

Shelley Mickle does it again!

"Extraordinary novel. . . In the tradition of exquisite Southern storytelling, Mickle graciously blends the richness of history, believable characters and a gifted imagination for an exceptional story."

Publishers Weekly, Star Review, also Huffington Post Pick of the week, Nov. 4, 2014

"Shelley Fraser Mickle does it again. She writes a work of fiction that feels truer than a non-fiction— a pager-tuner that after the last page is turned, stays with you. Her stories are really about all of us and how our individual and collective history has changed us. And she does it with humor, compassion and lovely prose."

Dale Eldridge Kaye
CEO Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group
Partner Blind Pig Productions

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Congratulations to Shelley as a nominee to the 2014 Florida Women's Hall of Fame.

Wild Onion Press

Columnist for The Wall Street Journal
Cover photo by Ernest Bellocq

Two modern-day women unravel a family secret by following a trail of letters left by a Civil War prostitute, telling of shame, survival and the discovery of love. 

When Shelley Fraser Mickle's debut novel appeared in 1989, it was said of her main character, "You are about to meet one of the most appealing young ladies in recent American fiction." Now, in The Occupation of Eliza Goode, Mickle gives voice to a woman's story rarely heard.

Born into a New Orleans' parlor house in the mid 1800s and sold to be a courtesan on her seventeenth birthday, Eliza Goode flees her arranged future at the outbreak of the Civil War. In an ironic twist on the Underground Railroad, she is a white girl passed up through Mississippi's plantations from one slave quarters to another until she emerges at the Confederates' Camp Corinth to be swept along to the battle of Manassas. Along the way, she meets Bennett McFerrin and his wife, Rissa, whose love story represents that of many couples when wives followed their husbands to war.

Using guile and her extraordinary beauty, Eliza transforms herself from camp-follower prostitute to laundress, nurse, and caregiver to Rissa when Bennett is taken prisoner by Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Fort Donelson in Clarksville, Tennessee. There, in union-occupied Clarksville, Eliza's final transformation frees her from her past.

But in this meticulously researched novel, Eliza's story is more than a tale of war, transcendence, and hardship. It is a story told in modern times by Susan Masters, a novelist in Boston, whose cousin, Hadley, finds Eliza's letters in an attic and implores Susan to write Eliza's story to answer questions she seeks for her own life. Hadley has a shameful secret of her own—a past, about which she cannot even bring herself to speak.

Set in the first summer of the Iraq war and three years after 9/11, this is not your usual Civil War novel. This story says much about how we became who we are, and who we might have become, had the Civil War not saved us as a nation.