The End of Innocence (Sourcebooks, 2014)

This WW1 novel is a best-selling novel about war and peace at Harvard University before and after the Great War. It’s based on the true-story of the building of Harvard’s Memorial Church and a controversial, mysterious Latin war memorial in the church.

The novel was a new release nationwide at Barnes & Noble and at Books-a-Million. It was an Amazon #1 best-seller  (military fiction), and, as HARVARD 1914, #5 on Kindle. A copy of the cover of HARVARD 1914 is framed in the Harvard Club of New York City’s Class of 1914 room.

Praise for The End of Innocence (formerly HARVARD 1914)

” ..an exquisitely beautiful novel… -U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities former chair and UNC-Chapel Hill professor William Ferris

One of the most original, fascinating and wide-ranging Ivy League novels I have ever read… Beautifully written, this highly sophisticated novel about youth, war and death deserves high praise. – Howard R. Lamar, Emeritus Prof. of American History & Dean, Yale College

The book is a thoughtful look at a turning point in world history. — Kirkus Review 

An engaging debut…Jordan does a terrific job…— Publishers Weekly

 Reminiscent of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maise Dobbs books without the mystery, this novel explores the complications involved when war becomes personal. Jordan builds empathetic characters and an intriguing story… — Library Journal

 Allegra Jordan’s The End of Innocence is a moving ode to a lost generation. With lyrical prose and rich historical detail, Jordan weaves a tale in which love overcomes fear, hope overcomes despair, and the indelible human spirit rises up to embrace renewal and reconciliation in the face of loss and destruction. —Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor’s Wife

 Love in a time of war….surely there is no more compelling or romantic theme in all of literature Yet this fine debut novel appeals to the brain as well as the heart. Allegra Jordan brings us historical fiction at its best. —Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Guests on Earth

 …a thoughtful work that offers an interesting perspective on the period. — Booklist

Allegra Jordan’s novel provides a fresh imagination about divided loyalties, justice, and love.  The author paints a vivid portrait that stuck with me for a long, long time. Barnard College President Debora Spar

What makes reconciliation possible? How can we shift our ground and make room for forgiveness? In this carefully crafted novel Allegra Jordan explores these questions and shows that the power of writing itself, the stored and accumulating power of poetry, and most of all the immense reserves of redemptive energy locked up in the narratives of scripture, can be released into our lives, take us out of entrenched positions, and set us free. -Malcolm Guite, Cambridge University chaplain

A delicious, well-crafted, historical novel set at Harvard and in Europe during World War I.  Harvard men and women will be enchanted by Allegra Jordan’s recreation of the moving story behind those German soldiers’ names inscribed on the walls of Memorial Church. – NYT Best-selling author Daniel Klein (H ’61) Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar (with Thomas Cathcart)

A marvelous story of people a century ago struggling with issues of love, war, prejudice and change, that are as relevant today as they were in 1914. Filled with interesting, complex characters, Allegra Jordan writes with grace, understanding, and a fine subtle humor. -Prize-winning author Julius Getman, (H LLB ’58, LLM ’63), University of Texas

Downton Abbey has found a brilliant successor in this spellbinding tale of love, death and war.  The finest war fiction to be published in many years. – NYT best-selling author of Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Conquest of Europe (Penguin 2011) Jonathan W. Jordan

Publishers Weekly’s review “Jordan does a terrific job of contrasting the superficial formalities of the initial chapters depicting New England social life with the grueling realities of life in the trenches. Also on display is her knack for taking what at first seem like throwaway or background details and making them central to the story’s last third, set in Boston following the Great Depression.”

Literary Housewife: “This book captivated my heart in so many parts and truly, I could not put it down. There wasn’t a character I didn’t like or relate to. I loved the subtle humor and camaraderie between them as well….Oh I loved this novel. Set in Cambridge, MA and Belgium, your heart will love and break when you read The End of Innocence.

For the full review, click here: http://www.theliteraryhousewife.com/2014/08/26/new-release-tuesday-82614/

Independent California bookstore Bookshelf Stores:

“A powerful story about love and hope beginning in the halls of the prestigious Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges in 1914 as Germany is aggressively pushing into Western Europe prior to America’s intervention into the Great War. The story follows a cast of formidable characters into the 1930’s. In 1914, Boston is the scene of many demonstrations against Germany’s move to invade western European countries in hopes of building a Third Reich Empire. Young Germans studying at Harvard are being targeted by the Political League formed by affluent Boston college students. More than Harvard’s story, it is one of trust and betrayal woven around the war that tore families apart, but eventually drew strength out of long-buried loneliness. Highly recommended. (Sourcebooks, $24.99) Reviewed by Carol”

http://www.bookshelfstores.com

Jan Moran, best-selling author & entrepreneur: Review 

“How often can we say that read a great book today? One that made us think and feel, that made us a better person — perhaps more tolerant, more forgiving — for having read it? The End of Innocence is such a saga, a powerful story that opens on the eve of World War I at Harvard University in 1914.

The writing flows like fine aged wine, passages conjure a tumultuous past, and the story maintains taut tension. At the heart of the book is a love story, however, deep questions about reconciliation among people and nations are also addressed, lifting this novel into thought-provoking realms….”

 

Review by Mom with a Reading Problem:

“Overall, I felt this novel was by far one of the best I’ve read this year. And hands down, the best historical fiction I’ve ever read! The author drew me in with her characters, their emotions and relationships, and I just couldn’t set it down. If you enjoy historical fiction, romance, or just a really good book I highly recommend you check this one out. You will not be disappointed!” http://www.momwithareadingproblem.com/2014/08/the-end-of-innocence-by-allegra-jordan/

Interviews:

Interview on Courage Cocktail: Enjoy a radio interview about World War I filled with hope, laughter, and song in the context of the novel The End of Innocence.  http://www.ibiblio.org/wcom/podcast/mp3s/CourageCocktail/CC08202014114.mp3

Interview on PBS (UNC-Bookwatch): http://video.unctv.org/video/2365486348/

Essays: 

USA TODAY: Love, war, and the End of Innocence: http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2014/08/29/allegra-jordan-the-end-of-innocence-love-and-war/

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allegra-jordan/7-fascinating-but-forgott_b_5697800.html

Maria Shriver: http://mariashriver.com/blog/2014/07/3-ways-to-embrace-the-marvelous-side-of-life-allegra-jordan/

 

 

 

Personal statement

A peace treaty may stop a war, but it cannot heal wounds. These unhealed wounds can create cycles of violence in families, communities, and countries that pass through generations. People come to believe, “That’s just how the world is.” It takes a special moment to interrupt this thinking.

I grew up in a family with some who experienced deep wounds from poverty and war (both Vietnam and generationally from the U.S. Civil War). In contrast, some of my Alabama schoolteachers had worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr and had a different approach to heartbreak and loss. They focused on reconciliation and building bridges to the future. These two approaches collided in my own life on September 20, 1989. That night my best friend was murdered by my college teacher and coach. It was called the crime of the decade in Alabama.

In this experience I learned that death is a singular event. How we piece things back together is part of our becoming beautifully human. Could I, like my teachers, reconcile with my enemy? What would I do with my anger and grief? Would I become stuck like beloved members of my own family?

I went to Harvard in 1991 with these questions deep in my heart. I was surprised to find concrete answers one crisp October morning in a sermon by Peter Gomes at Harvard’s Memorial Church. Peter discussed how Harvard handled a similar controversial rift. In World War I Harvard had students on both sides of the War – German and British/American. Harvard created a controversial plaque to commemorate the “enemy” students. Gomes said:

Over on the North Wall, in the far back is a plaque in Latin, which most of you will be unable to read. In translation it says this, “Harvard University has not forgotten its sons, who under opposite colors also gave their lives in the Great War.” And then there are listed four German members of the University who died in the service of the Kaiser in the First World War. This is one of the more extraordinary memorials in this church. You will notice that it is separated by a vast acreage from the memorial to the war dead of the first War in the Memorial Room. This was a controversial matter in 1932 when this church was built. And the University authorities said that they could not in good conscience include the war dead of the enemy in the same place as the war dead of the Allies. And it was my predecessor, the Chairman of the Board of Preachers, Willard Sperry, who with his colleagues said this is wrong. “We cannot contravene the President and Fellows of Harvard College, who are we against them?” But we could improve upon their narrow vision and in this church we shall remember them. And we did and we do and there they are. A reminder of the fact that humanity transcends the sides and there are no victors ultimately; there are only those to be commended to God.

Over the next few years I walked by the plaque and thought about the people it represented. I thought about my own journey. I decided to write a novel set in the elegant era of Harvard at the start of World War I.

The novel took me 21 years to bring to life. I had to experience life’s difficulties, wrestle with the big questions and see how different communities responded to them. Only then could I write with authenticity about what it means to fight for joy and to truly overcome.

In closing I’ll write about one character who embodied so much of what is good in the world. I loved exploring the character of Professor Copeland, the professor everyone dreams they’d have had at Harvard but probably didn’t. It allowed me to redeem my own Harvard experience, and I suspect many others will find this true. Copeland’s character in the book is based on historical fact, and also on Peter Gomes, a witty and gifted preacher who, in one of his few televised appearances, got the best of Stephen Colbert.

In real life Copeland taught editor Maxwell Perkins (who edited Hemingway, Wolfe and Fitzgerald), as well as T.S. Eliot, John Reed, and Walter Lippman. Copeland was held in such high esteem both Teddy Roosevelt and JP Morgan would attend his public readings in New York City. But what made people like Copeland was his willingness to help people develop their own character. Peter Gomes was the Copeland of his generation at Harvard. In addressing Harvard seniors, Peter Gomes gave them the following charge and blessing. It is one that sums up Copeland’s views nicely:

“Go out there, then, with courage, grace, and imagination. We give you our love – a word not used much around here, and saved for your very last moments – and we commend you to the love of one another and to the greater love of a loving God. This now, at last, is the best we can do for you. This is the best that there is and it is yours, so go for it, for God’s sake, and for your own.”

This is the ultimate message of THE END OF INNOCENCE: even if the worst has happened, there can still be wonderful, marvelous life. This is a message to celebrate.

 

Speaking engagements:

2016

Together, Alone: (Atlanta, GA): Agnes Scott College’s community of readers

2015

Thurs., Dec. 10 (Beaufort, SC): USC Beaufort Author Luncheon Series

Saturday, Oct. 10 (Orlando, FL): Florida Reading Association  

Tues., June 30, (Falmouth, MA): Falmouth Historical Society

Thurs. June 16, (Cape Cod, MA): Titcombs Book Club (Skype)

Wed, May 13, (Sumter, SC): Sumter Historic Museum 

Tues, May 12, (Charleston, SC): Circular Congregational Church 

Fri., May 8, (Clemson, SC): OLLI Book Club

Tues., May 7, (Woodstock, GA): Foxtale Book Shoppe

Tues., May 5, (South Carolina): Pointers Book Club

Thurs., April 30, (Austin, TX): Reading Between the Wines Books Club (by Skype)

Thurs., March 5, (Selma, AL): Tea at the Jackson Historic Home, Voting Rights Movement Residential HQ

Saturday, Jan 30, (Chester, VT): New Voices at Misty Valley Books

Sunday, Jan 25@ 2pm (Winston-Salem, NC): Bookmarks NC Moveable Feast

2014

Wednesday, August 20 @ Noon EST
Courage Cocktail with WCOM Carrboro, NC

Tuesday, August 26
@ 11am EST Radio interview with Hezi Aris of Yonkers Tribune

Wednesday, August 27 @ 9:30am EST
Radio interview with Warren Lawrence of WKNY

Thursday, August 28 @ 10am EST
Radio interview with Maggie Linton of Sirius XM

Friday, Aug 29 Cocktail hour in Atlanta with Harvard Club of Georgia

Sunday, August 31 @ 2:30pm EST (Atlanta, Georgia)
AJC Decatur Book Festival

Saturday, September 13 @ 1:00 EST (DC/ Northern Virginia)
Fall for the Book, Fairfax, VA

Friday, September 19 @ 4:00 EST (Norfolk, Virginia)
Southern Independent Booksellers Association, Norfolk, VA


Tuesday, September 30 @ 6:00 EST (Providence, RI)
New England Independent Booksellers Association, Rhode Island

Friday-Sat, Oct 10-11 (Nashville, TN)
Southern Festival of Books

Saturday, October 19 @ 6:00PM – 9:00PM (Charlotte, NC): WNBA BiblioFeast “Moveable Feast” Book & Author Dinner