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  • Published: 8 October 2021
  • ISBN: 9781496726513
  • Imprint: Kensington
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $35.00

The Second Life of Mirielle West

A Haunting Historical Novel Perfect for Book Clubs



The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.

* A 2023 Silicon Valley Reads Selection *
* Reader's Digest Editor's Choice *

The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.

* A 2023 Silicon Valley Reads Selection *
* Reader's Digest Editor's Choice *

For Mirielle West, a 1920’s socialite married to a silent film star, the isolation and powerlessness of the Louisiana Leper Home is an unimaginable fall from her intoxicatingly chic life of bootlegged champagne and the star-studded parties of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When a doctor notices a pale patch of skin on her hand, she’s immediately branded a leper and carted hundreds of miles from home to Carville, taking a new name to spare her family and famous husband the shame that accompanies the disease.

At first she hopes her exile will be brief, but those sent to Carville are more prisoners than patients and their disease has no cure. Instead she must find community and purpose within its walls, struggling to redefine her self-worth while fighting an unchosen fate.

As a registered nurse, Amanda Skenandore’s medical background adds layers of detail and authenticity to the experiences of patients and medical professionals at Carville – the isolation, stigma, experimental treatments, and disparate community. A tale of repulsion, resilience, and the Roaring ‘20s, The Second Life of Mirielle West is also the story of a health crisis in America’s past, made all the more poignant by the author’s experiences during another, all-too-recent crisis. 

“Scrupulous in her research and practically clairvoyant in her choice of urgent subjects — from the Indigenous boarding schools of her first novel to the disease and quarantine of The Second Life of Mirielle West — historical novelist Amanda Skenandore has quietly become one of the valley’s finest authors.” – The Las Vegas Review Journal

  • Published: 8 October 2021
  • ISBN: 9781496726513
  • Imprint: Kensington
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $35.00

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Praise for The Second Life of Mirielle West

Praise for Amanda Skenandore

“In this superior historical from Skenandore, the wife of a 1920s Hollywood actor is transformed by the news of a medical diagnosis… Skenandore makes plausible Mirielle’s metamorphosis from Hollywood socialite to active, caring member of the Carville community. The author’s diligent research, as well as her empathetic depiction of those subjected to forced medical isolation, make this a winner.” – Publishers Weekly on The Second Life of Mirielle West

“Despite being a fictional work, in her book The Second Life of Mirielle West Amanda Skenandore has used her medical background as a registered nurse—and her storytelling skills as a writer—to describe the sorrows experienced by patients with leprosy who were quarantined at the Carville Leper Home.” – The Lancet on The Second Life of Mirielle West

“Scrupulous in her research and practically clairvoyant in her choice of urgent subjects — from the Indigenous boarding schools of her first novel to the disease and quarantine of The Second Life of Mirielle West — historical novelist Amanda Skenandore has quietly become one of the valley’s finest authors.” – The Las Vegas Review Journal

"Effie's community of freedmen and Creoles in Reconstruction New Orleans is unforgettable. Skenandore's second novel is recommended for readers who enjoy medical historical fiction reminiscent of Diane McKinney-Whetstone's Lazaretto, and historical fiction with interpersonal drama." --Library Journal on The Undertaker's Assistant

"Our immersion in that world--from the particulars of baking marble cake to the grisly minutiae of embalming corpses to the messy and violent politics of the Reconstruction South--is so complete that the reader never doubts it once existed. That said, one of this novel's many virtues is how it subtly conveys how many black citizens in the post-Civil War era took it upon themselves to improve their own lives."--Historical Novels Review on The Undertaker's Assistant

"Readers who like complex characters amid a roiling historical setting will be fascinated by Effie's quest...Teen readers who are not turned off by the embalming details will empathize with a young woman's search for identity and love." - Booklist on The Undertaker's Assistant

"Intensely emotional...Skenandore's deeply introspective and moving novel will appeal to readers of American history, particularly those interested in the dynamics behind the misguided efforts of white people to better the lives Native American by forcing them to adopt white cultural mores." --Publishers Weekly on Between Earth and Sky

"By describing its costs in human terms, the author shapes tension between whites and Native Americans into a touching story. The title of Skenandore's debut could refer to reality and dreams, or to love and betrayal; all are present in this highly original novel." --Booklist on Between Earth and Sky

"A heartbreaking story about the destructive legacy of the forced assimilation of Native American children. Historical fiction readers and book discussion groups will find much to ponder here." --Library Journal on Between Earth and Sky

"Gripping and beautifully written, Between Earth and Sky tugs at the heart with its dynamic heroine and unique cast of characters. Though this novel brings alive two historical American eras and settings, the story is achingly modern, universal and important." --Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The It Girls on Between Earth and Sky

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