Connecting to the Past, One Gin Fizz at a Time

In history, it’s always five o’clock somewhere.

Connecting to the Past, One Gin Fizz at a Time

In 1931, American journalist Milly Bennett sat shivering in Moscow and wrote a letter to a friend back home. She was lonely, and she reminisced in her letter about drinking gin fizzes in a clandestine bar in San Francisco.

Memories of a better time sustained Milly while she was isolated by Russia’s unforgiving cold, a new language, and the relentless hours of her work at a local newspaper.

Today, many of us are isolated. Even before covid-19 swarmed into our communities, we often struggled to find meaningful connection. It’s part of the human condition, this tension between our individuality and our social nature, and easing that tension is a constant challenge. We go out for drinks with friends, we write letters (or emails) to distant loved ones, and we learn about how other people are experiencing life.

I always find solace in history, in the knowledge that people have struggled, loved, learned, and erred countless times over the years of our common past. My curiosity about how people have lived and what lessons we can take from their lives is part of what prompted me to write Milly’s story in Salt the Snow, my second novel.

Then, when our pandemic-driven isolation intensified, I turned again to history. Inspired by my friend E.A. Aymar’s crime-fiction virtual Noir at the Bar nights, I thought historical novelists could bring the past and present together in a way that buoys people today.

I started with a friend, of course: author Linnea Hartsuyker. We schemed and planned, and decided to host an Historical Fiction (Virtual) Happy Hour. We will have two guest co-hosts (the fantastic Greer Macallister and Rita Woods) for our first show this Friday, May 29, at 8 p.m. (EST), and two more for the next one in June.

Together, we’ll talk about historical cocktails (including, yes, that gin fizz), play silly games, and do giveaways. We’ll consider how turning to the past offers solace, and we’ll revel in the warmth that connectivity provides. The event is free — just register here — and we hope you’ll join us.

Carrie Callaghan is the author of the historical novels Salt the Snow (2020) and A Light of Her Own (2018), both from Amberjack/CRP. She lives in Maryland with her family.

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