Jacquelyn Cook

$16.95 February 2008
ISBN: 0-9768760-9-4

In the rich tradition of Eugenia Price, this author, who is southern born and bred, presents a true saga of one of the most fascinating families of the American South

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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

The true love story behind one of Georgia's most famous antebellum mansions. In the 1850's Anne Tracy, a smart and well-educated young woman from the stifled but elegant world of Macon, Georgia, made a polite marriage with an older, wealthy merchant, William Butler Johnston. The unlikely pairing blossomed into a romantic and devoted marriage. The Johnstons' wide travels through 1850's Europe inspired them to return to Macon and build an incredible Italianate mansion. Anne's privileged life was soon tested by tragedy and war. Her journey from bitter heartbreak to renewed faith and forgiveness created a powerful legacy far greater than money.


"...a most absorbing book...masterful job...My family has really come alive for me in a way they never would have without reading your book." --Lisa Felton, great-great-granddaughter of Anne and W.B. Johnston

Source: Host of Georgia Public Broadcasting's "Fridays with Jackie," and author of THE BOOKBINDER
Reviewer: Jackie K. Cooper

In Sunrise, Jacquelyn Cook brilliantly combines history with fiction. This makes for an enchanting love story that will grab readers' attention and win their hearts.


In 1849, Anne Tracy, a smart and well-educated young woman confined by the proper antebellum society of the South, enters into an arranged marriage with wealthy businessman William Butler Johnston, who is more than twenty years her senior. During their lengthy honeymoon in Europe, Anne and William's awkward, formal relationship quietly begins to blossom. Their enduring marriage will survive tragedy and war to create one of the most amazing legacies in the South.

Anne sat on the deck of a steamboat floating down the Rhone. In a mood as bleak as the January day, she eyed hillsides brown with barren vineyards, thinking, My hopes for romance are as dead as this wine country. I thought being married to someone I did not love was bad. This is worse. I never knew love could be so painful when it's not returned.

Since they left Paris, Mr. J. had ignored her, sleeping through the train ride to Chalons. Now he was dozing in a deck chair. She supposed she had worn him out with her boundless energy, trying to see all of Paris. She tried to read, but her nerves felt as rough and knobby as the grape vines.

When the indifferent looking little riverboat began passing between hills studded with chateaux and fairy tale villages, she wanted him all the more.

Wake up! Please. She watched him, longing to kiss him, to be caressed, thinking of Byron's line:

          Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;

          'Tis woman's whole existence.

Anne suddenly understood the poet's words. That moment in Paris had changed her from adolescent liking to deep loving. She wanted to breathe in his presence for the rest of her days. She yearned to be loved, not just as a wife to show off in fine gowns or as a traveling companion who could enlighten him on what they were seeing, but desired. Like Eugénie.

How can I expect a pragmatic man to respond to my passion for art, for beauty--- for him?

He stirred under her gaze, and she said, "You're missing everything. That's not a cloud. It's a snow-topped crest. It must be Mt. Blanc."

"Um-huh,” he mumbled.

Mr. J. leaned closer to follow her pointing finger, and the soft fuzziness of his beard tickled her cheek. Anne smiled. Had she ever been this aware of all her senses?

As the boat neared Lyons, Anne shook him to see the rough, gray rocks rising round, forcing themselves into the city, jutting into the gardens that landscaped handsome homes. She pronounced Lyons a singular mixture of nature and art.

That night Anne slept well in the hotel at Lyons and arose eager to continue the journey. Floating down the river caused her no motion sickness, and she felt herself exploding with health.

For the next two days, they lazed on deck. With Mr. J. taking more interest in her, Anne reveled in the view, walled castles, crowning ever more rugged hills that climbed to the distance snow-topped Alps, shining blue and clear in the sun.

When they stopped at Avignon to tour the famous Palace of the Popes, Anne came alive with energy, and Mr. J. rested, caught her zest. Walking, climbing, they missed nothing.


How did I ever win this lovely creature? William wondered as he watched Anne fairly dancing, stretching her arms up to the sun, exclaiming over the deep blue Mediterranean. They had reached the seaport of Marseilles.

"Oh, the southern air,” Anne cried. "It's balmy even though it's the last day of January!”

William was thrilled that Anne actually took his hand as they strolled narrow streets. Suddenly, she stopped before an inn of crumbly-looking stone.

"This is the most romantic spot I've ever seen,” she exclaimed, tugging him into the courtyard. "Just look how it's guarded by slender sentries of cypress and secluded by burgeoning vines. Oh, we must eat here,” she begged.

Something was happening. William knew he must seize the moment, but his knees were failing him, and he thankfully sank into a chair. He gazed across the table at her, unable to speak. He had dreamed that if he took her to places such as this, she might come to love him.

Maybe not. Perhaps it was only Paris that changed her. But at least she doesn't pull away anymore when I try to touch her. She doesn't shutter her eyes to me. Now is the time to woo her, to tell her how much I love her.

But William drew up, tight, tense, throat constricted. He could feel his cheeks burning as red as the tiles of the roof. Somehow he managed to toast her with the local wine, sparkling St. Peray. Laughing, Anne agreed that the sea air heightened her appetite. They ordered fish cooked with olive oil.

"Delicious," Anne declared, rolling the light taste on her tongue. "The flavor is like the pecans back home."

Fear flashed through William .She might become homesick again. But he sat back as the waiters returned with violins. Smiling knowingly, they circled them, playing throbbing melodies, singing passionate songs. Now. This is the time. Speak now, William, he chided himself.

Anne was smiling up at him with her brown eyes soft. Loving? It seemed their whole relationship hung quivering like the bougainvillea that encircled them in a blaze of pink that would fade, die, and drop away. He pushed back his plate, covered her hand with his, and coughed--- Then he ducked his chin into his beard.

Miserable, William thought how he could address a boardroom full of formidable men in New York City. Why not one slender girl who is my wife? But he remembered their wedding, the look on her face.

All he could say was, "I must make arrangements for the diligence for Nice.” She did not love him. Could he bear to keep trying? He stammered, "If-if you'd like to wait here... listen to the violins-We'll walk down to the sea when I get back."

Anne nodded. She had a dreamy look about her as if she were lost in the music. He knew she understood none of his discomfort.

When William returned, he presented a nosegay of violets and geraniums. He had never seen Anne more delighted. She smiled up at him, touching the bouquet tenderly to her face.

With a lump in his throat, he pulled back her chair and offered his arm. For whatever reason she married a forty-year-old man, it was not for money, he thought. My smallest gifts please her most.

Anne placed the flowers in the tiny vase of the tussie mussie on her lapel and sniffed it as they strolled along the harbor looking at the vessels. "It's so relaxing here by the rushing, sighing waves.”

William put his arm around her, and he was transported when she snuggled sleepily into the hollow of his shoulder. They stopped, watching the stars come out, and he stammered of their beauty. But he could not find the words to tell her of his love.

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