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Book Spotlight—Anke: The Beginning by Anas Hamshari and Caroline Snodgress

Publication Date: September 16th 2020

Publisher: Exotic Reads

Page Length: 111 eBook / 170 paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

Living in the city of Mechelen, just south of once-prosperous Antwerp, in the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War, Anke Verhaegen, an ambitious nineteen-year-old, is determined to make the most of her life.

When her brother Johan suggests crossing the Atlantic to New Netherland, Anke knows this is her destiny. Together, the two set about attempting to secure passage across the sea. Before long, their plans are in motion, and hopes are high. Yet, with vengeful enemies, secrecy, and danger on the high sea waiting to be faced, will Anke really be able to secure a better life for herself?

Buy Links: Amazon


In short, I had no interest in men. Or, at least, no interest in marriage; for, I knew that some men were interesting. Not the eligible, wealthy bachelors that Dutch fathers everywhere arranged for their daughters to marry, of course. But, there were other kinds of men. Men at the port up north, or at the market down the street, who spoke of a different kind of life. Adventure seemed to cling to them, the way the smell of smoke lingered on the skin and in clothes. I would loiter just outside the crowds of them, pretending to be interested in some limp pile of vegetables in a dilapidated market stall, and I would listen to their stories. There was such boisterous, swaggering energy about them, the way they strutted and laughed and bragged about their business ventures. Usually, I found such arrogance appalling. But, these men, it seemed, had earned it. They did not live off the wealth of their fathers or the prodigious dowries of their pretty little brides. Instead, they made their own way in the world. Everything they had, they had fought for, and had earned. My only wish was that there could be a few women about them, not merely as maids or mistresses, but as equals. That is the life I would choose for myself.

Still frustrated by my father’s scheming, I returned to the kitchen, not bothering to go to the trouble of changing again. In the little room, the heat of the oven was overpowering. After the relative coolness of the parlor, it hit me like a sickening wave as I passed through the door. When I had first begun to take on a few responsibilities in the kitchen, it had seemed so exciting. I loved the sense of responsibility and adulthood, to know that someone was putting their trust in me, and that a task, however small, depended on my hard work to be completed successfully. But, nowadays, it was merely stressful. There were plates and bowls that needed washing, cups that needed to be filled, things that needed to be bought—no matter how little money we had to spare on it. It was a hard lesson to learn that no matter how much planning and organization I implemented, my hands could only do so much work. I knew I was capable of more than this. Could I but hire a few more girls, I would delegate, and they would bustle around the kitchen, and everything would get done in time. I wanted to use my brain, wanted to lead and organize, not mindlessly chop vegetables. I greeted the flour-covered room with a look of contempt.

Fortunately, there was nothing to keep me there; our one maid had found my unfinished attempt at a pie and had tended to it. The two of us exchanged weary smiles, and I let out a breath, smoothing my hair back as best I could. The heat was unbearable. No one would miss me for an hour or two. The market was calling to me.


Anas Hamshari is an established businessman residing in the State of Kuwait, and an author of one personal growth book and two historical fiction novels. Anas has been a lifelong writer and first began creating medieval fiction tales and short stories when he was seven years old. In June 2020, Anas formed Exotic Reads, a historical fiction self-publishing division in one of his main businesses, Exotic Flavor. Exotic Reads will be self-publishing a variety of historical fiction novels in the weeks, months, and years to come. Find Anas on Twitter.

Caroline Snodgress is a first-time author but a long-time writer and ghostwriter. As an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia, she is planning to double major in English and History, and is thoroughly enjoying taking as many fiction writing classes as she can fit into her schedule. When not in Charlottesville, she lives with her family just outside of Richmond, reading eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and watching plenty of period dramas in her spare time.

Find Caroline on her


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