And the winners are…

We have had (for those of you with short attention spans and/or memory loss) two contests celebrating both April’s National Library Week and Mary Russell’s 20th birthday (Miss Russell’s popularity over this score of years also owing much to the enthusiasm of libraries.)

The first celebration was Book Club in a Box, weekly drawings of Russell collections for libraries with book clubs. Those winners are:

Georgetown Library (TX): Locked Rooms

Linebaugh Library (TN): Justice Hall

Maynard Public Library (MA) who are re-gifting these to a middle school: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

Milford Library (MI) O Jerusalem

Multnomah Library (OR): The God of the Hive

Pacific Palisades (CA) A Monstrous Regiment of Women

Winnepeg Public Library: Garment of Shadows

All of these libraries host book clubs, and all of them now are getting fifteen copies of one or another of the Russell Memoirs to share and talk about.

We love libraries!

A big thank you, to everyone who nominated a library for this contest, and to anyone who participates in library book groups—or in libraries at all.

And the OTHER contest?

The one we all submitted entries for?

…and have been waiting forever to hear about?

Yep, we have those winners, too.

(I really must stop doing these contests, by the way. Not that I don’t adore seeing the creativity and passion of readers, but judging them is HARD. Impossible, really. I mean, heart-felt confessions of love for Mary Russell from smart and articulate readers? They’re all worthy of a prize.

But I told you I’d choose winners, and so I have.)

The Grand Prize: a complete set of the Mary Russell UK hardbacks, goes to M.R. Graham, for her combination poem/art:From Miss Russell I learned

And close behind her, and winning the complete set of Mary Russell UK paperbacks, is the aptly named Madison Strong. Here is her entry:

When I first met Mary Russell, she seeped into my bones.

She sauntered towards me page by page without blinking or batting an eye. I was startled and envious of the unapologetic way she was herself and have since attempted to devour her courage and mind.

I hadn’t known how thirsty I was for knowledge until Mary Russell began spoon feeding me her adventures. I hadn’t begun to itch my Wanderlust until she brought me Arab spices and the slap of ocean wind on my face. With Mary’s eyes, I’ve seen the Holy Land. I’ve seen India, Scotland, France. I hadn’t known how long my hunger for experience, for learning, for companionship had been unsatisfied until she fed her own with dazzling wit and unabashed courage.

Over the years, Mary Russell has become as real to me as my sister. With Mary’s helping hands, I peeled back the pretense around my life. I laughed aloud when Mary Russell’s time at the Bodleian surpassed my own time at my library, hours I had previously been ashamed to admit to. She’s taught me more than the depths of my thirst for knowledge and hunger for experience. She’s taught me about myself in her straightforward style – without apology.

She taught me a woman’s power was more in the width of the binding of her latest novel than the width of her trousers. She taught me to accept my passion for history and my deep seated need to help others. She taught me to face my darkest fears with logic, loyalty, and bravery. She taught me to be perceptive of other’s details – that everyone is interesting. She taught me my ability to love is no less potent simply because I’m not a frivolous romantic.

She taught me not to deny who I really am.

More than that, before she came my way, I hadn’t known it was ok to be a Mary Russell in a world of Lydia Bennets.

When I first met Mary Russell while on suicide watch at the age of 14, I had no idea this bespectacled androgynous child would become the woman to save my life.

But to illustrate how hard I found to decide, I couldn’t help choosing eight runners-up as well, who are receiving a copy of the new 20th anniversary hardback of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I’ll publish some of their entries in coming days, but their names are:

Wendy Bartlett

Sandra Brewster

Kristen Dolan

Bethany Gibson

Winx Goll

Tawni Jensen

Katherine Kim

Rayleen Weed

Thank you so much, everyone who sent in entries. I’m left in awe at your eloquence and your passion.


  1. Merrily Taylor on June 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

    What wonderful testimonials, Laurie! You must be proud to have created a character who inspires such devotion!

  2. MR Graham on June 6, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Hurrah! I’d be lying if I said my reaction was anything near dignified. I can’t wait to see some of the other entries!

  3. Kathy Reel on June 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I had wanted to post a short essay on how Mary Russell has enriched my reading life and caused my obsession with bee products, accompanied by pictures of the bee products. However, I just couldn’t get it together in time. I am going to enjoy reading those that did get it together and won. Great contest and great prizes, Laurie! I think Mary Russell for many readers is like Harry Potter has been for young readers, a gateway book leading to more and more reading.

  4. Frances on June 7, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    The beautiful words and image represented by these two winner’s work are the truest testament to the power of words and images to change, fortify and reafirm life. Beyond that, the role of anuthor, crafter of stories is a blessed one. The stately power of words to create dreams, affirm the best in a reader and to inspire tomorrows is a terrible and awesome responsibility. LRK writes words that resonate in a woman’s heart. What a gift. Thank you.

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