The Thief’s Heart

Oakmont, PA – Bestselling author Kathleen Shoop has won numerous awards, been a Kindle Top 100 seller, and been lauded by major media like USA Today, Buzzfeed, and Bustle. Now she’s releasing the newest book in her award-winning historical fiction The Letter series, The Thief’s Heart (Jan. 14, 2020). 

Shoop’s newest historical novel transports readers to 1892 Des Moines where, after losing their promised inheritance, the Arthur family’s luck finally changes. An extraordinary woman, Violet Pendergrass, provides refuge for them to rebuild their broken lives. Or has she? Fifteen-year-old Tommy Arthur strives to uncover Violet’s true motives while struggling to provide for his family – and develop a relationship with the fiery Pearl Riverside.  When disaster strikes and the family is threatened by an angry mob, the clock runs down on Tommy’s chance to take responsibility for his own choices. Is it too late for him to save his family, to open his heart and fully love those who need him as much as he needs them? 

Each of the previous three novels in The Letter series have won Independent Publishers Book Association (IPPY) Gold Medal awards. Book Two in the series, “The Road Home,” was named one of the “Best Books of June 2015” by Buzzfeed and one of the top “17 Summer Reads” by The San Francisco Book Review. Shoop has also received the Reader’s Favorite Gold Book Award, the USA Best Book Award, the Indie Excellence Book Award, among many other recognitions.

The series was inspired by 45 real handwritten letters sent in the 1880s from the author’s great-grandmother Jeanie to her then-fiance, Shoop’s great-grandfather Frank Arthur. These treasured family letters weave a tender love story – a story made even more compelling by future tragedy within the real-life Arthur family, which inspired their fictional counterparts.

My Review

I have not read the prior novels but I had no problem jumping right into this book. In fact, I did not feel like I missed anything by not having read the prior novels.

For me when it came to the cast of characters, Tommy was the most prominent for me. He was really the voice and heart of this story. He was the one who really banded everyone together and brought it to life. Which I did instantly get captured by this story. I could see it all playing out in my head. The only thing is that I felt a bit of a disconnect with the rest of the characters as if there was a barrier. There was no strong physical or emotional connection to the other characters.

Despite my feelings towards this book, I do want to read another one by this author.

Bestselling author Kathleen Shoop holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. 

Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite and the San Francisco Book Festival. 

Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. For more information, visit her at:

An interview with the author

  1. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind The Letter series? What about compelled you to create an entire series based on the Arthur family?
The Letter Series was inspired by some of my family letters written in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A set of love letters written by my great-great grandmother to her fiance (my great-great grandfather) was the correspondence that started it all. After the first book in the series, The Last Letter, sold thousands and thousands of copies, readers began to ask to see more about the family. And so the rest of the series was born. While the books are inspired by my real family and there are some factual elements to the stories, each narrative is unique and fictionalized. 

  1. Did you have to do a lot of research for The Thief’s Heart, or did you rely on research you’d already done for other books in the series? 
I did have to do quite a bit of research for The Thief’s Heart. Though the book is set at the same time as The Kitchen Mistress is, both books are from different characters’ points of view. The Thief’s Heart is about how Tommy is navigating the difficult changes the Arthur family is confronted with. The novel goes deeply into what causes his problems and how he attempts to overcome them. Though much of the set up and background for TKM and TTH is the same, the experiences the main characters have (even the way they interpret the very same events!) are wholly unique. 

  1. How do you find the right balance between writing fiction that is fun and lighthearted, and fiction that has complex, heavier themes? 
I think whether a book hits just the right balance often depends on the individual reader. When I wrote The Last Letter I viewed the ending as being the definitive finish to a complicated story. I felt the ending was satisfying even if not happy in the way some fictional endings are happy. And many readers agree with my characterization. Others don’t. That really surprised me to get that kind of feedback at the time. So, with every book since that first one, I’ve tried to be even more mindful of balance between a complicated book that creates major problems for characters and making sure there are more light moments as the characters develop, they tackle difficulties, and the plot unfolds. 

  1. You’ve garnered substantial recognition and praise for your books. What advice would you give to current and aspiring authors (especially indie authors) who want to be successful? 
Most advice I give encourages writers to create literature they want to read themselves and to hold the writing up as the most important component of selling. Trends are too hard to navigate if you aren’t really passionate about whatever trend you’re trying to “capture.” Now there are exceptions to that. Some writers are prolific, their interests match with what’s “hot,” and they easily adapt their writings to fit the market. Some authors are brilliant at that and they are rewarded and I would encourage them to maintain that path. But for writers like me, writers who write slower and aren’t as streamlined with their writing process, I would advise they learn to trust. I trust that my work will land with the readers who love it. I do my best to promote and market, hiring experts who know more than me  so that my work gets to those readers. But then I center my energy on the writing process, knowing that in the end, the craft is the most important part of the selling. 

  1. What projects are you working on now?
I’m finishing up a novella, The River Jewel, that acts as a prequel to The Letter Series, will help drive readers to The Thief’s Heart as a sales tool. The River Jewel shows readers how Pearl (a “side” character in The Road Home, The Kitchen Mistress, and more of a main character in The Thief’s Heart) ended up being orphaned. I hope to write Pearl’s own novel soon, but this is a really fun way to give readers an extra Letter Series book to read and to focus on characters other than the Arthurs. I’m also writing the third book in the Donora Story Collection that is about Stan Musial’s childhood. So much more to come!! My newsletter and Facebook page always have new content and updates on my projects in progress and as they are completed.


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