Drum roll please… Today is the day I finally get to share with the world the beautiful image that will adorn my five long years of research and writing! Every book is dear to an author’s heart, but this one represents a significant chunk of my life’s work. To Crown with Liberty releases May 1, 2024, but you can pre-order now to receive a digital copy of the first chapter and ensure first dibs on a full copy. For the cover, I didn’t ask for much–just that it should simultaneously capture the spirit of the French Revolution and Spanish colonial Louisiana in one tiny thumbnail. Piece of cake, right? Thankfully, at Chrism Press, our cover designer is the inimitable Roseanna M. White. I’ve seen her execute phenomenal covers from the strangest and most abstract requests made by authors, and they’re always stunning. For this one, she did so much more than capture the setting. She captured the story. Here she is: Alix de Morainville journeying into the Louisiana swamp while looking back over the burning rubble of her past life in France. It’s stunning, and I’m in love. Thank you, Roseanna!
New Orleans, 1795. In the wake of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, Alix de Morainville Carpentier—a former lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette, now married to her gardener—seeks peace and security in the Spanish colony of Louisiana. But her journey into the man-eating swamp called Attakapas reopens the wounds of her old life in France. Alix is forced to reckon with the choices that saved her life at the cost of her honor—and perhaps her soul. In revolutionary France, the Old World is dying; the quest for liberty, equality, and fraternity has become a nightmare where the price of dissent is blood. In the wilderness of Spanish Louisiana, a new civilization is beginning to emerge—but in this budding New World, the slave trade perpetuates the systems of oppression that sparked the revolution. Caught between old and new, scarred by trauma and grief, will Alix ever find a home where she can truly be free? To Crown with Liberty is a historical novel based on riveting legends from George Washington Cable’s Strange True Stories of Louisiana (1888).
Here’s what early reviewers are saying…
“Historical fiction provides readers with a means to relive history in a creative and imaginative manner. Karen Ullo’s novel about the French Revolution and its aftermath splendidly achieves this goal, offering an enticing look at this incredibly complex era in French history.” —Rev. Ronald D. Witherup, P.S.S., former Superior General of the Society of the Priests of Saint-Sulpice (Both the church of Saint-Sulpice and the Society are featured in the novel) “In stepping into the pages of To Crown with Liberty the reader steps into revolutionary France and colonial Louisiana. We find ourselves living among those who are fighting for their lives and struggling with conscience-seducing temptation in times of terror. Ultimately, we find ourselves led into the dark on a quest for light and life.” —Joseph Pearce, author of Catholic Literary Giants “A tour de force! Weaving together fact and fiction with characteristic imagination and exquisite prose, Ullo presents a spellbinding account of radical politics, mob violence, and personal trauma. To Crown with Liberty leaves a lasting impact.” —Eleanor Bourg Nicholson, author of A Bloody Habit and Brother Wolf “Karen Ullo’s To Crown With Liberty skillfully weaves together formative events from the French Revolution with the early history of Louisiana, crafting an engaging tale that speaks to enthusiasts of both early American and early modern European history alike. A great story in its own right, it could also serve as an historical fiction addendum to a period history course.” —Phillip Campbell, author of Story of Civilization“Ullo brings us a deep and compelling look into tragedy and triumph, loss and love, desperation and determination that showcases the most beautiful and horrible facets of humanity. Never have I seen the French Revolution, and the spirit of those who went on to build a new world for themselves, as fully as in these pages. This is what historical fiction is meant to be!” —Roseanna M. White, bestselling, Christy-Award winning author of the Codebreakers series