Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Amazon Bestsellers in Native American Romance!

Triple woot!  Happy dancing.  My short story, The Lady and the Warrior, and both novels, The Bearwalker's Daughter and Red Bird's Song (as of this moment) are in the top 24 in the Amazon bestsellers list for Native American Romance.  Also, Red Bird's Song is in the top 12 in Native American fiction and literature

What I don't get is why my award-winning NA historical romance novel Through the Fire isn't on the list.  Come on readers, it's super swell, if I do say so myself.  Others have said the same, though not in those particular words. :)  How about riveting and powerful?


"Ms. Trissel has captured the time period wonderfully.... I felt I was there through her descriptions and settings. An excellent story where there is so much happening."  ~Two Lips Review by Shelia

"The storyline of Through the Fire is well-written and uncommonly descriptive. Ms. Trissel took great time and effort to research Indian beliefs and their way of life. Anyone who buys this book will take great pleasure in it." ~You Gotta Read by Laura

"Through the Fire is full of interesting characters, beautifully described scenery, and vivid action sequences. It is a must read for any fan of historical romance." ~Long and Short Reviews by Poinsettia

2008 Golden Heart® Finalist
Publisher's Weekly BHB Reader's Choice Best Books of 2009 

Blurb for Through the Fire:
At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent––or to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.~

Blurb for Red Bird's Song:

 Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn't how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather's vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.

George III's English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.

As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other. ~

2012 EPIC Ebook Award Finalist

This is a beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense...This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating. --Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J

I loved the descriptions...I felt I was there...Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events...The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself.  --Seriously Reviewed

With Red Bird's Song, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!~Virginia Campbell

"I liked this book so much. The author has done a magnificent job of creating both characters and setting. The descriptions of the area are wonderful and put the reader right in there with the characters...I will most certainly read other books by this author." Overall rating 5 out of 5 hearts Reviewer: Jaye Leyel for The Romance Studio

The Bearwalker's Daughter:

~The strange awareness inside Karin grew, like a summons urging her to an untamed place. His gaze drew her almost against her will. She leaned toward him.

"Someone seeks you, Shequenor's dahnaithah."

The message rippled through her. And she knew--his was the inviting summons in the wind.~

Karin McNeal hasn't grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the
past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman longing to learn more of her mother's death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.

Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother's death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges--for her?

(A revised version of Daughter of the Wind)

"Ms. Trissel's alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding." -Long and Short Reviews

"I loved the plot of this story, oh, and the setting was wonderful."
-Mistress Bella Reviews

"I found this book fascinating." -Bitten By Books

Blurb for The Lady and the Warrior:

An abused young wife stranded in the Alleghenies in 1783 is rescued from drowning by a rugged frontiersman who shows her kindness and passion. But is he more than he seems? And can they ever be together?

About The Lady and the Warrior:  A short historical romance story with a The Last of the Mohican's flavor to give readers a taste of my full-length American historical romance novels.  If you like The Lady and the Warrior, chances are you will enjoy Red Bird's Song and Through the Fire.  Both have a strong Native American theme interwoven with the plot.

 All of my books are at Amazon. Several of these titles are also available in Nookbook

Monday, May 28, 2012

Herbs Enhance Historical/Paranormal Romance

As my earlier posts feature herbs and the lore surrounding these age-old plants, I’m sharing several herbal related excerpts from my recent release, historical fantasy romance novel The Bearwalker’s Daughter.

Set among the clannish and superstitious Scots-Irish in the Allegheny Mountains, the story is similar to others of mine with a colonial frontier flavor and also features Native American characters, with the addition of an intriguing paranormal thread.

Remember, the herbs didn’t have to originate in America for the settlers to use them. They brought seeds, cuttings, and rootstock with them from the Old World and learned about native plants from the Indians.

 This first excerpt is from the old Scots-Irish woman, Neeley’s, point of view:
A brooding darkness hovered over the McNeal homestead. Of that, Neeley was certain. And she sensed from where it came. She needed all her wisdom now to prevail against it. 

She’d limped stiffly through the home sprinkling a sweetly aromatic decoction of angelica root into every corner, the most powerful herb for warding off spells and enchantment. Then she’d hung a bough of rowan wood above the doorway to lend protection from evil. The leafless branch dripped with clusters of orange-red berries, pleasant to behold as she sat by the hearth.~

And later in the chapter: 

Her needle winking in the firelight, Neeley sewed the blue fringe on the cape collar and around the long hem. The fragrance of angelica, the most sacred of herbs, rose from the linen. She’d sprinkled a decoction of the holy root over the cloth to bring protection to the wearer. Jack would need all the defense he could get.

As for Karin, her innate goodness would aid her, but Neeley wasn’t taking any chances. An herbal bath of angelica mingled with the purifying power of agrimony, redolent of ripe apricots, awaited the girl. Jack too, if Neeley managed to coax him in.~
This excerpt is from the heroine, Karin’s, point of view:

Neeley rose stiffly from her chair and shuffled forward, her stooped figure a head shorter than Karin’s. “You’ll want my help, John McNeal. Fetch the woundwort, Karin. Sarah, steep some comfrey in hot water and bring fresh linens. Joseph, the poor fellow could do with a spot of brandy,” the tiny woman rapped out like a hammer driving nails. Old, she might be, and as wizened as a dried apple, but Neeley took charge in a medical emergency whether folks liked it or not.

Sarah dashed to the cupboard to take down the brown bowl. Karin flew beside her and grabbed the crock reeking of salve. Sarah snatched a towel and they spun toward the hearth as the men made their way past the gaping crowd. The stranger lifted his head and looked dazedly at both women. Karin met vivid green eyes in a sun-bronzed face stubbled with dark whiskers. A fiery sensation shot through her—and not just because he was devastatingly handsome.~

The two following excerpts are from the hero, Jack’s, point of view.

The matriarch called Neeley bustled into the room with a steaming basin of what Jack supposed, from the herbal scent wafting in the mist, was a medicinal wash.

“Thomas, see Sarah gets to bed and brew her a cup of betony. That’ll calm her,” Neeley directed.

“Come on, Sarah. You’ll do better with a rest and some tea.” Thomas helped his stepmother to her feet and guided the unsteady woman from the room and through the assembly clustered beyond the door.  Murmurs of sympathy accompanied her departure.

Then Neeley set the white porcelain bowl on the washstand and squinted down at Jack like a hen hunting for spilt grain. She gestured with bent fingers at the girl peering from behind John McNeal’s bulk. “Karin, come closer. You’re my hands, lass.”

Her eyes, too, Jack suspected.~

And later in that scene: 

Karin dabbed his shoulder dry, then dipped her small hand into the pungent crock. Pursing rose-tinged lips, she smeared the aromatic paste on his wound. “I’ll give the salve a while to work before I dig the ball out and stitch you up. Ever had woundwort, sir?”

“Dulls the pain right well,” Jack managed, hiding a grimace. Even her soft touch stung like the devil, but he wouldn’t push her away for anything.~

I interweave herbs and other plants through all of my stories, though some more than others.

***Striking book cover by my daughter Elise~
***The Bearwalker's Daughter is available at Amazon in kindle for .99

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ah me! Love cannot be cured by herbs. ~ Ovid

Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.  ~Henry David Thoreau

We loved with a love that was more than love.  ~Edgar Allan Poe

Do I love you because you’re beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?
~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella

Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense.  ~Mark Overby

Who, being loved, is poor? ~Oscar Wilde

Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river.  ~Malagasy Proverb

Love – a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker. ~Author Unknown

Love one another and you will be happy.  It’s as simple and as difficult as that.  ~Michael Leunig

The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it. You and you alone make me feel that I am alive. Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough. ~George Moore

Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and fans the bonfire.  ~François Duc de La Rochefoucauld

We choose those we like; with those we love, we have no say in the matter.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.  ~Jean Anouilh

Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly.  ~Rose Franken

Love is like dew that falls on both nettles and lilies.  ~Swedish Proverb

It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.  ~John Bulwer

‘Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming, and look brighter when we come.  ~Lord Byron

Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a winding path walked arm in arm.  ~Robert Brault

Love is the poetry of the senses.  ~Honoré de Balzac

Love is a game that two can play and both win.  ~Eva Gabor

Without love, the rich and poor live in the same house.  ~Author Unknown

We don’t believe in rheumatism and true love until after the first attack.  ~Marie Ebner Von Eschenbach, Aphorism

True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.  ~François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.  ~Elinor Glyn

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

4 1/2 Stars from Affaire de Coeur for Time Travel Romance Somewhere My Lass!

“This is a fast‑paced, intriguing story that ended way too soon! This reader is looking forward to more of Ms. Trissel’s remarkable stories.” –Lauren Calder

For the full review visit: Affaire de Coeur

Story blurb for Somewhere My Lass:

Neil MacKenzie’s well-ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he’s her fiancé from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head–or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood.
Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he’s dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall’s brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it’s too late.

The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?
***Somewhere My Lass is available from Amazon and all other major online booksellers plus some not so major~

Monday, May 21, 2012

The True Story Behind The Bearwalker's Daughter

The Bearwalker’s Daughter is a historical romance novel interwoven with an intriguing paranormal thread, set among the clannish Scots in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies. The story is similar to others of mine with a colonial frontier flavor and also features Native American characters. My passion for the past, and some of the accounts I’ve come across while researching my early American ancestors and the Shawnee Indians, is at the heart of my inspiration.

A particularly tragic account is the driving force behind this story, one I discovered while researching my early American  ancestors, the ill-fated romance of a captive woman who fell in love with the son of a chief. As the result of a treaty, she was taken from her warrior husband and forced back to her white family where she gave birth to a girl. 

Then the young woman’s husband did the unthinkable and left the tribe to go live among the whites, but such was their hatred of Indians that before he reached his beloved her brothers killed him. 
Inconsolable and weak from the birth, she grieved herself to death.
Heart-wrenching, that tale haunts me to this day. And I wondered, was there some way those young lovers could have been spared such anguish, and what happened to their infant daughter when she grew up?
Not only did The Bearwalker’s Daughter spring from that sad account, but it also had a profound influence on my historical romance Red Bird’s Song.  Now that I’ve threaded it through two novels, perhaps I can let go…
Recently, I came across a short review of The Bearwalker’s Daughter that referred to the story as ‘mind candy’.  If this is your idea of mind candy, so be it. I put my heart into it, as I do all my work.  But The Bearwalker’s Daughter cut especially deep. Red Bird’s Song even deeper, and I poured my soul into my historical romance Through the Fire

The history these novels draw from is raw, real, drama filled, and pounds with adventure. A passionate era where only the strong survive. Superstition ran high among both the Scots settlers and Native Americans, and far more–vision that transcends what is to reach what can be. We think we have gained much in our modern era, and so we have. But we’ve also lost. 

In my writing, I try to recapture what shouldn’t be forgotten.  Read and judge for yourself.

Blurb for The Bearwalker’s Daughter:

Timid by nature—or so she thinks—Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman longing to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.
Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges—for her?

“Ms. Trissel’s alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding.” –Long and Short Reviews

*The Bearwalker’s Daughter is a revised version of Daughter of the Wind.
*Cover by my talented daughter Elise Trissel
*Image of old family musket, powder horn, and shot pouch by my mom Pat Churchman

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who Remembers the French and Indian War?

Anyone?  I do, almost as if I lived back then.  My early American ancestors did.

When I wrote historical romance novel Through the Fire I felt as though I’d been through the flames. My hero and heroine certainly had. This adventure romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor and a mystical weave was born in the fertile ground of my imagination, fed by years of research and a powerful draw to my colonial roots.

My fascination with stirring tales of the colonial frontier and Eastern Woodland Indians is an early and abiding one. My English/Scot-Irish ancestors were among the first settlers of the Shenandoah Valley and had family members killed and captured by the Indians. Some individuals returned and left intriguing accounts of their captivity, while others disappeared without a trace.
On the Houston/Rowland side of the family, I have ties to Governor Sam Houston, President James Madison and Malcolm 1st of Scotland (that last one’s a stretch).
Family annals list early names like Beale, Jordan, Madison, and Hite (a German connection I discovered). A brief account of my grandmother (six times removed) Elizabeth Hite, says her sister Eleanor was taken captive and sister Susan killed, though not by which tribe. Their brother Jacob was killed by the Cherokee.

Another ancestor, Mary Moore, is the subject of a book entitled The Captives of Abb’s Valley. A Moffett forebear captured as a child became a boyhood companion of the revered Shawnee Chief Tecumseh. When young Moffett grew up, he married into the tribe and had a son, but that’s the subject of a different novel. A Pennsylvanian ancestor on the Churchman side of the family was invited by the Shawnee/Delaware to help negotiate a treaty with the English because he was Quaker and they were more sympathetic to the plight of the Indians.

Many accounts are left unrecorded, though. Historian Joseph Waddell says we know only a fraction of the drama that occurred during the Indian Wars. I invite you back to a time long forgotten by most.

*A blog visitor recently asked who lost the French and Indian war–the French and the Indians who sided with them.  Mother England won that round.


Shoka held out the cup. “Drink this.”

Did he mean to help her? Rebecca had heard hideous stories of warriors’ brutality, but also occasionally of their mercy. She tried to sit, moaning at the effect this movement had on her aching body. She sank back down.

He slid a corded arm beneath her shoulders and gently raised her head. Encouraged by his unexpected aid, she sipped, grimacing at the bitterness. The vile taste permeated her mouth. Weren’t deadly herbs acrid?

Dear Lord. Had he tricked her into downing a fatal brew? She eyed him accusingly. “’Tis poison.”

He arched one black brow. “No. It’s good medicine. Will make your pain less.”
Unconvinced, she clamped her mouth together.
“I will drink. See?” he said, and took a swallow.

She parted her lips just wide enough to argue. “It may take more than a mouthful to kill.”

He regarded her through narrowing eyes. “You dare much.”
Though she knew he felt her tremble, she met his piercing gaze. If he were testing her, she wouldn’t waver.

His sharp expression softened. “Yet you have courage.”

Ms. Trissel has captured the time period wonderfully. As Rebecca and Kate travel in the wilderness, though beautiful, many dangers lurk for the unsuspecting sisters. Away from the gentility they grew up around, the people they meet as they travel to their uncle in the wilderness are rougher and more focused on survival regardless of which side they belong. I love historical novels because they take me to times and places that I cannot visit and Through the Fire is no different. As I read, I’m transported back to the mid-1700’s on the American frontier as Britain and France maneuver to control the American continent. I can see how each side feels they are right and the other side the aggressor. I watch how the natives take sides based on promises made but not kept. I felt I was there through Ms. Trissel’s descriptions and settings…
Rebecca and Shoka are so believable as lovers. Shoka is calm but can be roused by Rebecca’s stubbornness. They are well matched as they challenge each other, teach each other, and learn from each other. This is not a boring relationship by any means! I enjoyed the secondary characters from the French Captain Renault to Shoka’s cousin Meshewa. The Shawnee fight on the French side of the war. It’s refreshing not to have the novel from the English point of view but to see the conflict from the eyes of the eventual losers of this war and to see the villains as those who we’ve been brought up to see as the “good guys”.

This is an excellent story where there is so much happening with Rebecca in the center of it all. I’m glad I read it and look forward to reading more of Beth Trissel.” Reviewer: Sheila from Two Lips

“I had previously admired Ms. Trissel’s use of descriptive language in one of her other works, and that is one of the reason’s I chose to read Through the Fire. I was very pleased to discover that this story contained the same strong imagery. “Shafts of late-day sunlight streamed through breaks in the thickly clustered trees to touch the nodding heads of columbine and rosy mountain laurel. The woods were like a garden long ago abandoned.” 

As I read this passage, I felt as though I were riding through the woods alongside Rebecca. “Wounded men writhed in the crushed grass, their piteous cries in her ears, while the dead lay where they’d fallen. Crimson stains pooled beneath them.” This brief passage describes one of the many action-packed battle scenes that really pulled me into the story so that I could see and hear the fighting around me.

Through the Fire is full of interesting characters, beautifully described scenery, and vivid action sequences. It is a must read for any fan of historical romance.” ~Poinsettia Reviewer with Long and Short Reviews

Monday, May 14, 2012

If You Love the Country and Even If You Don't

Written in a month by month journal style, my award-winning nonfiction book, Shenandoah Watercolors, follows a year in my life on our farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Excerpt from May:

“The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

~William Shakespeare

The heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven.

Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.

I’ve been thinking about my favorite places. The pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal.

I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new-mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.

Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~

Only .99 in kindle at Amazon, Shenandoah Watercolors is also out in print with lovely photographs taken by my talented family.

"This is perhaps the most beautifully written memoir I've ever read. Its lovely and languid descriptions of the picturesque valley, the farm and gardens are equaled only by the charming and funny descriptions of the antics (and conversations!) of the farm animals. What a joy this is to read..." Amazon Reviewer C. G. King

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows," Herbal Quotes & Images

“My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse.”

“Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me.” ~Danaher, 1756

“Lavender is for lovers true, Which evermore be faine; Desiring always for to have Some pleasure for their paine: And when that they obtained have The love that they require, Then have they all their perfect joie, And quenched is the fire.” ~Lavender and Turner (Herbal, 1545)

“There’s rosemary and rue. These keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long.
Grace and remembrance be to you.”
- William Shakespeare
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine: There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
Love’s Labours Lost
“ladies fair, I bring to you
lavender with spikes of blue;
sweeter plant was never found
growing on our English ground.”
~Caryl Battersby

“And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom
shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound
to lurk admist the labours of her loom,
and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume.” ~William Shenstone The School Mistress 1742

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”
- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

“Those herbs which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest, but, being trodden upon and crushed, are three; that is, burnet, wild thyme and watermints.  Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.”
-  Frances Bacon

“How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?”
-  Andrew Marvel

*Royalty free images

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'Poison Plant' Garden in Honor of Agatha Christie

The great Agatha Christie favored poison as her preferred means of dispatching unfortunate characters in many of her murder mysteries. One of the deadliest herbs, Monkshood, also called Aconite and Wolfsbane, certainly played a part.  Torre Abbey in Torquay has a garden devoted to the plants that rear their heads in her work. Torre Abbey, built in 1196, is the largest surviving medieval monastery in Devon and Cornwall.

Agatha Christie’s Potent Plants is the creation of Torre Abbey Head Gardener Ali Marshall, who in true crime writing style researched around 80 of Agatha Christie’s novels and short stories in just six months to come up with the Abbey’s own unique commemoration. The new feature links the author’s interest in poisonous plants, her wartime work as a pharmacy dispenser and the medicinal plants that Torre Abbey’s medieval canons might have used.

With Poirot-esque determination and attention to detail Ali Marshall, with the help of experts at Torquay’s Agatha Christie Shop, has designed a garden with a central display of potent plants surrounded by plants that serve as Agatha Christie clues, solved only with a knowledge of the plots of some of the author’s short stories. What better way could there be for Agatha Christie fans to exercise their ‘little grey cells’?”
“Do not touch is the warning for all visitors to the new garden and a skull-rating denotes the level of toxicity of each of the plants. Ali Marshall explains: “While this might sound extremely dangerous for staff and public alike we have been very careful in our choice of plants, substituting less potent garden cultivars where possible.

This is a garden designed to entertain – not provide murderous opportunities!

The fruit stones of the Prunus family, for example, once processed, produce cyanide, used to lethal effect in “The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side” and “A Pocketful of Rye” amongst others.  Monkshood and Foxgloves also play a big part, as do Poppies and Yellow Jasmine. Other plants however have a more positive purpose. A Kilmarnock Willow (aspirin) takes centre stage while Valerian and Fennel owe their inclusion to their reputed therapeutic benefits.”

For more on Torre Abbey~

*Royalty free images