Cleopatra meets Billy the Kid
The Age of Trump has energized the American public. Women and, particularly, communities of color are seeking a political voice in ways never before seen. Toni’s Smile – a groundbreaking novel about power and the first Blatina President – not only captures the zeitgeist of this moment but also inspires the next generations of the politically engaged.
…”I want to start out by saying that Toni’s Smile is not a genre I generally read, not even close. Second that by saying that not having read Stilwell’s work before, I did a little research and had a set idea in my mind of what to expect from his writing. So wrong!
But in the best way.
Let me get something else out of the way, I love Toni Madison. I love her finally rediscovered spunk. But I also love her foibles. Her sense of right and good and her dedication to doing what it takes. Her deep seated fear of maybe discovering they’re right and she’s not quite “good enough”.
It’s that fear that propels her to be acquiescent when she takes The Oath. Play it the way it would have / should have been, had fate not stepped in. For almost three years. And then we watch fascinated as Toni comes into her own. Step by painful step.”…
(Full Review here)
Other readers say...
“If my history professors had explained things the way you do, I would know so much more.
… some serious action, a little bit of sex, and a very new viewpoint of the US Presidency.”
On inauguration night, the President tragically dies, leaving Toni Madison, his chosen Veep, as the first Blatina President of the United States. For three years, she has faithfully protected his legacy. As the fourth spring dawns, however, she is troubled by the ineluctable thought that she is letting the People down. She could do better.
Her decision to seek election in her own right triggers a series of events that challenge her to stand by her principles – infuriating Congressional betrayals, frightening separatist standoffs, and the troubling drums of war overseas.
And not least, the attempt by her own Vice-President to undermine her legitimacy just as she begins the election cycle.
Ultimately, drawing upon the experiences of her younger years and with the inspiration of her loyal – if a bit quirky – staff, Toni prevails. She wins the nomination of her Party, campaigns in the fall, and bests her opponent in a thrilling debate.
Only, on the eve of success, to walk into an assassin’s bullet.
Toni’s Smile is thoughtful, funny, and heart-rending. It is a story that will stay with the reader for years.
A child of the Midwest, Jeff Stilwell has explored the world, principally Asia. He met and wooed his wife there by following her, first, to Java and the lands of Lord Jim. They settled in Seattle, not far from her native Yakima Valley where she taught him to ride bareback. Yakima became the setting for his first novel Fighting for Eden – readers found it “a heartfelt story” in which “one finds their own Eden and their own truth.” An illustrator and speculative thinker, he spelunked the origins of god in an illustrated work, Here and Now: A Whimsical Take On God – which readers found “simple yet profound” and “something that can be read in minutes, and thought about for a lifetime.” A playwright earlier in life, he has also seen fifteen of his plays produced in and around the Seattle theatre scene.