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2013 Beverly Hills Book Award for Literary Fiction

Local Author receives National Recognition from the 1st Annual National Beverly Hills Book Awards!

Bishop, California –

The First Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards recognized The Bonus by Georgia Lowe as WINNER 2013 in the category of Literary Fiction .

This national award, based in Los Angeles, CA is open to all English language books in print.

The competition is judged by experts from all aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. They select award winners and finalists based on overall excellence.

“We are so proud to announce the winners from our inaugural year,” said awards sponsor Ellen Reid. “These books will be favorites on bookshelves for years and years to come.”


Book Review by David Wilk

I confess to be particularly fond of Depression era novels and nonfiction. The 1920s and 1930s were incredible periods in American history, so much like the present time it is sometimes strange and even eery. I’m not sure how many readers coming to this novel will know its historical background. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, while Hoover was still President, thousands of World War I veterans mobilized to lobby Congress to pass a bill to give them their war service bonuses immediately, to save them from utter poverty and starvation. 2o,000 of them ended up camped in and around Washington, D.C. at the end of their Bonus March.

The political elements of this story sound pretty familiar to anyone who is paying attention to modern political speech. It’s impossible to not think about the Occupy movement as you read this novel, which of course was conceived and written long before that movement’s inception.

Georgia Lowe’s parents were bonus marchers. She grew up hearing their stories about the hot summer of 1932 in Washington, D.C., when General MacArthur, himself also a World War I veteran, brutally dispersed the homeless and destitute marchers, including the families of the vets. Those stories inspired her, but she did not even begin to write fiction until she was much older. She started the novel more than 10 years ago, using elements of her own family’s stories to create the framework of her novel.

I found The Bonus to be a remarkably well written novel that flows beautifully and naturally. I’d characterize it as a “naturalistic” novel, and it feels to me as if it could have been written in the 1930s, with a truly authentic sense of the period, the places and the people of that time. The story focuses on Bonnie and Will, she a struggling actress and he a journalist (and veteran in denial of the pain of his wartime experience), both of them living reasonably well in Hollywood. They each become connected to the Bonus March in different ways, and end up together in Washington, where their personal lives become entwined with the real events surrounding the marchers and their treatment in the capitol. You’re not reading a novel to learn the history, but you will learn it and I think you will feel, as I did, that history is remarkably circular.

I think history has birthed a wonderful novelist. The Lucky Dime website tells us that Georgia is hard at work on two new novels, a prequel to The Bonus entitled An Ordinary Kid and a sequel, The Old Ladies. These are books I will want to read. I can’t resist making a plug for another novel, one that was actually written in the 1930s by a now almost forgotten writer, Thomas Boyd, In Time of Peace, a book I think should be read together with The Bonus to create a really powerful understanding of our own period through the lens of another.

Talking with Georgia was a lot of fun for me since I liked her book so much. I hope you will enjoy it as well. And I am not alone in liking this book a lot – The Bonus won first place in the highly competitive Mainstream/Literary Fiction category of the Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards.

Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus ReviewFirst-time author Lowe draws on the experiences of her parents and a well-honed sense of craft for her novel set in the midst of the Great Depression.

In the late spring of 1932, with unemployment hovering near 25 percent and poverty widespread, veterans all over the U.S. mobilize a march on Washington to demand early payment of their World War I bonuses, which are not scheduled to be redeemed until 1945. Veteran-turned-reporter Will Hardy, skeptical of Royal Robertson, leader of Los Angeles’ “Bonus Army,” investigates the charismatic former actor, then covers Robertso’s “Heroes March” of vets on their trek from Hollywood to D.C.; Will’s lover Bonnie Bailey, a statuesque movie extra, soon follows. Meanwhile in the nation’s capital, retired Army general Pelham Glassford, chief of police, attempts to accommodate throngs of bonus marchers while trying to wrest concessions from uncooperative politicians and Army officials. But as more veterans crowd into the city, Congress follows President Hoover’s lead in refusing early payment, a testy General MacArthur readies his troops and the situation quickly approaches a boiling point. Lowe’s briskly paced prose carries all the plot threads forward in a pleasing, almost pulpy style, relishing in period motifs and delivering plenty of risqué encounters… the novel’s overt political stance sometimes overstates the justness of the Bonus Army’s cause …

Lowe has clearly done her homework (she especially knows her way around 1930s L.A.), and this novel serves as an strong first effort.

Publisher’s Weekly

Publisher's WeeklyLowe’s debut is a well-done historical epic that captures an undeservedly obscure episode from the Great Depression. In 1932, veterans from across the country converged on Washington, D.C., to demand payment of bonuses earned during WWI. Despite rampant unemployment and hunger, President Herbert Hoover vows to veto any legislation to move up the payment date–the bonuses aren’t due for more than a decade–leaving the suffering veterans little recourse but to rally public support for their cause by marching on the Capitol. The vicissitudes of their efforts are nicely illumined through a diverse cast of characters, including L.A. reporter Will Hardy–whose coverage of actor Royal Robertson, who issued one of the calls to march leads him to follow the story across the country–and Col. Pelham Glassford, who uses his position as D.C. police superintendent to both maintain public order and treat the marchers humanely. The author makes good use of her material, some of which is derived from stories from her parents, themselves Bonus Marchers.

Pulp Fiction Review

Book Review by Ron Fortier

The trouble with most history books is that they are generally impersonal. They offer up the facts and then focus solely on the public figures who actually shaped events. What is omitted, save for the grainy black and white photos of yesterday, are the tales of the average people who experienced those moments; days now slowly morphing into ghostly images of a past all too soon forgotten. In choosing to read and review Georgia Lowe’s powerful retelling of the Bonus March, I purposely stepped away from this column’s focus on pulp fiction. Why? Because too many of us who love this unique brand of fiction some times need to be reminded of the times in which it was born. To better appreciate those exciting and colorful tales of escapist fancy, we should be aware that they were created during a time of national pain and suffering; the Great Depression.

Sadly there have been too few novels set in this time of social upheaval, economic tragedy and hopelessness. Not that there haven’t been many competent historical text, several of which the author mentions in her own lists of references, still it takes a fiction writer to make history personal. John Steinbeck did it with his “Grapes of Wrath” and now, first time novelist, Georgia Lowe achieves the same emotional impact with “The Bonus.” This is not an easy book to read for any American who loves his or her country. Its honest depiction of the Hoover administration and the cavalier, egotistical attitude of its chief participants from the President on down to his Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur is deplorable, to say the least.

In 1924, several years after the end of the War to End All Wars, America’s veterans were promised a bonus payment for their service. The country’s representatives spend the next five years debating on what form and amount this “bonus” will be in. Then comes the Wall Street crash of 1929 sending the economy into an unparalleled nosedive. Unemployment rises to 25%, banks collapse like dominoes, home foreclosures are rampant. On top of all this, Mother Nature delivers the second knock out punch in the form of a far reaching drought that devastates America’s central farmlands, turning abundant fields of wheat and corn into arid wastelands soon to be known as the Dust Bowl. The end result, Congress votes to defer the Bonus until 1945.

Three years later, in the Spring of 1932, thousands of veterans, feeling betrayed by their own government, began to organize throughout the country. As the news of their discontent and public gatherings spread, the idea of a united march on the Capitol is born and eagerly approved. Charismatic leaders among the various groups like the VFW arise and by the start of summer, they are leading thousands of desperate veterans to Washington in every mode of travel possible from automobile caravans to train boxcars filled with weary travelers. Their one unifying goal, to force Congress into giving them their money now.

We experience this historical pilgrimage through the yes of several characters including Will Hardy, a reporter for a Los Angeles tabloid, himself a veteran still enduring the effects of “shellshock,” and his lovely girlfriend, Bonnie. Bonnie, enjoying her life as a Hollywood extra is naively unaware of the country’s ailing condition until she embarks on this odyssey with her girlfriend Myrna to rendezvous with their men. By the time she arrives in Washington, she and Will become eye-witnesses to the monumental injustice perpetrated by President Hoover and his cronies. Not only does Hoover publicly ignore the peaceful petitions and demonstrations of the Bonus marchers, in the end, he has them attacked and driven out by Army troops under the command of General McArthur.

“The Bonus” is one of the finest historical novels I’ve ever read and it left me emotional drained. It is clearly a cautionary tale of what happens to a people when its elected officials allow themselves to become disassociated with their constituents. It is a story of governmental betrayal at its worst and a timely warning considering our nation’s current situation. It is also a fine work of fiction with moving, believable characters that any reader will quickly recognize as each is driven to find their own piece of the American promise. We tip our pulp fedora to Georgia Lowe and we thank her deeply for reminding us all what happened that summer in 1932. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure it never happens again.

Small Wars Journal

Reviewed by Mike Few

Georgia Lowe’s debut novel, The Bonus, vividly captures a United States President entrenched in rising unemployment rates, pending economic collapse, and unrest abroad that hauntingly echoes today’s worst case scenarios. In the middle of this turmoil, Georgia takes the reader on a journey that follows the plight of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, some 17,000 disfranchised World War One veterans and families marching on Washington DC in the summer of 1932 demanding immediate payment promised by the World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924. After local police failed to turn away the protesters, President Herbert Hoover dispatched an Army unit commanded by GEN Douglas MacArthur and including MAJ George S. Patton and MAJ Dwight D. Eisenhower to quell the protesters using fixed bayonets and tanks. The resulting violence would tear at the nation’s already stressed social fabric and remained a dark footnote in the nation’s history.

Georgia’s interest in writing this work stemmed from the collective stories of her parents, Bonus Marchers who lived through the Great War and the Great Depression, and she focuses her story on the personal level of those involved. Her main characters, a newspaper reporter, a movie star, and a police chief, are neither protagonists nor antagonists. Rather, they are combat veterans attempting to assimilate back into society after surviving through the face of battle. In their personal flaws and shortcomings, the reader understands the characters humanity, a trait that the veterans might have felt long lost. In modern clinical terms, the characters might be diagnosed with varying degrees of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In following the journey of the Bonus Marchers, The Bonus provides the reader with a greater understanding of an often passed over event. Ultimately, Georgia’s novel does a great service to her parents, and in a time of protracted war, it begs the reader to question the cost of war and what is owed to those that served. This book should be in the kit-bag of every combat leader as they wrestle with the nature of war and warfare.

Reading the Past

Book Review by Sarah Johnson

Georgia Lowe’s debut novel The Bonus shines light on a pivotal and regrettably obscure event from the Depression era. In 1932, over 20,000 destitute and desperate WWI veterans banded together to persuade the government to pay their wartime service bonuses early. Calling themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force, they arrived from all over the U.S. to converge on the nation’s capital and sway public opinion in their favor.

Lowe incorporates multiple viewpoints, primarily that of Will Hardy, a reporter assigned to cover the story for the Los Angeles Herald Express, and his girlfriend Bonnie, a statuesque red-headed starlet. Because the LA-based contingent to Washington is led by disabled actor Royal Robertson, Will wonders if their cause is a publicity stunt, but he’s soon persuaded of the rightness of their journey – even though going along with them as a journalist makes him uneasy. A veteran hit with occasional shell-shock, Will doesn’t want any reminders of his army days. Bonnie returns to her career after Will leaves, but she misses him terribly, even though she’s confused about his feelings for her. Disillusioned with Hollywood, and eager to help her friend Myrna leave a bad situation, the women set out to find him – and find help along the way.

DC police superintendent Pelham Glassford gets his tale told, too. Based on past experience, he expects President Hoover to be sympathetic to the marchers, but he isn’t. As thousands of hungry, determined, and unkempt veterans and their families settle into Washington, a “ragtag army invasion from a forgotten war,” Glassford does what he can to ensure they’re given shelter and fed, though the feds aren’t on his side. The Senate rejects the Bonus Bill passed by the House, rumors are spread about the veterans’ Communist beliefs (mostly untrue), and Hoover calls in the army – under General MacArthur – to clear out their makeshift campsites. It’s not a pretty scene.

Not just a vivid portrait of the unrest stirring in Washington, The Bonus also invites readers to take a firsthand look at the hopeless conditions throughout Depression-era America. Lowe re-creates the times with a sure hand: the blistering heat as the caravan of dying vehicles passes through Arizona in June, farm families evicted from their land in Dust Bowl Oklahoma, and veterans living in railway boxcars since they have nowhere else to go. The poverty hasn’t affected downtown LA nearly as much, although the traffic there is horrendous.  Some things never change.

The dialogue is pulpy and casual, peppered with coarse and authentic slang. (Newspapers are “Hoover blankets,” for one, which pretty well shows what people thought of Hoover.) As the plot breezes along, readers get to absorb the plight of female vets and Americans of mixed race through the clever placement of minor characters. A sweet love story, a wrenching social drama, and a vigorous defense of First Amendment rights, The Bonus is especially good at showing the strong bonds that develop between people when their luck is down. These downtrodden citizens epitomize the spirit of America better than their elected government does.

Toward the end, the main plotline sometimes gets buried in the mechanics of the political machine Glassford has to push through.  Overall, however, Lowe successfully transforms scenes from faded black and white photographs into living, breathing color. Will and Bonnie are based on her parents, who were Bonus Marchers, and with her entertaining and enlightening novel, she has done justice to their story.

The Bonus was published by Lucky Dime Press in Oct 2010 at $18.95 (pb, 398pp).

As I Turn the Pages

Book Review by Jael Fogle

Georgia Lowe grew up hearing stories about the Bonus March of 1932. As a child, sometimes she listened and sometimes she didn’t. Decades later, as an adult those stories served as the framework for her debut novel The Bonus.

What was the Bonus March? I have to tell you, I didn’t know until a few weeks ago. World War I veteran were promised service bonuses in 1924, but the government wanted them deferred until 1945. Veterans across the U.S. had different ideas, like marching to Washington, D.C. to demand their bonuses. Until recent events (like a near government shutdown), I can’t really imagine that happening. You work hard serving your country, and then you’re denied compensation.

It was a fool’s mission to some, but for the fictional character Will Hardy it’s a chance to report on history for his newspaper. Will is a veteran himself, but tries to forget his experiences. The march will take him away from girlfriend Bonnie. Is it love? Will isn’t sure what he feels. It’s like he’s afraid to love someone.

Through Will’s eyes you can see the organizers of the march had good intentions, but some of the logistics weren’t well thought out. Cars start breaking down. Towns across the U.S. reject the veterans. Food, water, and money are scarce. Personal hygiene takes a backseat. People start dying, and it becomes known as the death march rather than the bonus march. Most people would give up and go back home. Bonnie eventually joins Will, and even she can see that this is more than just a march. The devastation becomes too much for her. Why fight for something you might not get? Lowe’s writing helps you see the desperation in their eyes. Some people were barely holding it together before the march, and this could be their only shot to rebound financially.

Once arriving in D.C., the bonus marchers are welcomed by some, like General Glassford, and rejected by others, like General MacArthur. Congress, President Hoover, and others have no intention of paying up. The marchers are peaceful, but removing them becomes anything but. At times this book can be emotionally draining. The U.S. government really turned their backs on people who fought for this country?

For historical novels, this is a very good. Rather than just spitting out the facts, you see it through someone else eyes.

Rating: Superb

Word Nerd

Book Review by Bethany Warner

This week’s special guest is historical fiction author Georgia Lowe. While a lot of authors look to grand periods of history (the Tudors, the Romans, etc.) Lowe looks to one of America’s less-than-proud moments, the Bonus march on Washington DC in the 1930s. Welcome, Georgia, and we here at Word Nerd are glad to see her canine co-editors sharing some of her spotlight.

WN: What’s “The Bonus” about and what kind of reader would be drawn to it?
GEORGIA: Against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, The Bonus tells the true story of what happened in 1932 when 22,000 American veterans march to Washington and peacefully petition Congress for early payment of their wartime service bonuses. But instead of supporting the veterans’ claim for payment of an honest debt, President Hoover orders General Douglas MacArthur, Army Chief of Staff to evict the veterans from the city. MacArthur does so with the cavalry, tanks, armed infantrymen and tear gas. Picture American soldiers attacking American veterans on the streets of our nation’s capitol. Not only is this a must read for all Americans concerned about the humane treatment of our veterans, The Bonus is also a cautionary story for those who believe we no longer need a government strong enough to provide safety nets for the most needy Americans. George Santayana’s quote seems most appropriate here: Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. In addition, I believe 20th century history buffs will be drawn to The Bonus for its honest account of a pivotal event that ushered in FDR and the New Deal.

WN: The story of is drawn, in part, from your parents lives. What was it like fictionalizing them?
GEORGIA: Oddly, the more I fictionalized my parents, the more I came to understand them. Although my father worked for a newspaper, he wasn’t a reporter. My mother was a redhead, sometimes, but she wasn’t 6 feet tall, nor was she a starlet. But my parents embodied many of their characteristics. They were brave and funny and patriotic.

WN: To tell this story, you had to do lots of research. How did you go about that process?
GEORGIA: The research was daunting, but absolutely necessary. I took four trips to Washington, spent hours in the Library of Congress, walked the streets where the Bonus Marchers walked, sat where they sat and experienced the heat and humidity they suffered. My research also included careful study of a number of existing historical accounts of the event.

What made you want to be a writer?
GEORGIA: I’ve been driven to write from the time I could pick up a pen and pencil and put my thoughts on paper.

WN: What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received and how did it help you?
GEORGIA: In a writers’ workshop, James D. Houston, the author of Snow Mountain Passage and many other fine historical novels, urged us to write stories we cared deeply about, stories of consequence. I followed his advice.

WN: What’s next for you as a writer?
GEORGIA: I’m currently working on a prequel to The Bonus, a short novel titled An Ordinary Kid. And, I have an outline of the sequel.

The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra

Book Review by Andy Geisel

In the genre of “historical fiction,” it’s not unusual for novelists to set their stories during climactic or otherwise well known events. Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” takes place during the U.S. Civil War, James Michener’s “Space” at the height of America’s race with the Russians.

Eastern Sierra local and first-time novelist Georgia Lowe set hers during a more obscure, though quite dramatic event: the Bonus March that was staged during the depths of the Great Depression.

The story, which starts in February 1929, is mostly set during the spring and summer of 1932. A confrontation is brewing between the U.S. government and the Bonus Expeditionary Force (or Bonus Army), made up of 43,000 marchers, including 17,000 World War I veterans, their families and affiliated groups, who protested in Washington, D.C., vowing to stay on the Capitol steps until 1945 if necessary.

The war veterans, many of whom had been out of work since the Depression began, sought immediate cash payment of Service Certificates granted to them eight years earlier via the Adjusted Service Certificate Law of 1924. The problem was that the certificates matured 20 years from the date of original issuance, and by law could not be redeemed until 1945.

Lowe, who grew up in Los Angeles — and from the descriptions she uses, has meticulously recreated Hollywood as it was in those days — made a smart decision, using her own parents’ experiences as actual Bonus Marchers to lay the foundation for the book.

The fictional characters of Will Hardy, an L.A. newspaper reporter, and Bonnie, a young movie actress, are based on her parents, Don and Bernice Hardy (she even kept the last name). The personal drama between them is intermixed with some fictionalized interpretations of real-life persons who were part of the major events of Bonus March. One key player: Royal Robertson, one of the more forgotten, but certainly heroic faces of the Bonus Army.

Lowe’s novel takes readers along with Will and Bonnie from Tinseltown to the nation’s capitol, and it’s from their point of view that we get an inside look at the events that led to a horrible, tragic attack by U.S. Army troops on their own veterans.

The novel zips by with snappy dialogue and short slices of life. Succinct chapters are marked by the passing of the months. No long, tedious paragraphs or clunky chunks of exposition. “The Bonus” has business to do and wastes little time getting to it.

With one-quarter of the country out of work, families losing homes and businesses failing, and dust storms ravaging the Great Plains, can the Bonus Army vets survive another war, one fought on their own country’s soil? What of Will and Bonnie, who just found each other in the midst of chaos?

Lowe’s first effort, 10 years in the writing, shows she’s done her homework. Her passion for her subject matter isn’t hard to get. She’s true to her characters and to the Bonus March, one of our nation’s most emotional, touching, bittersweet events. “The Bonus” is primarily about people, but its story also effectively uses actual history to establish links from what’s happening in the country today to our past, a past which, if we aren’t careful, we may be condemned to repeat.