Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer AlLee

There are a few friendships in life that supersede distance and difficulties. I've been blessed with one of those forever friends in Jen AlLee. We met at the ACFW conference in Dallas. It was the first time either of us had been at a big writer's conference like that. For introverts, conferences are like volunteering to put your finger in a light socket. Not once, but over and over again. Nerve wracking! I was longing to sneak away to my room where it was quiet and I didn't have to be 'on'. I had one problem, I'd volunteered to help in the conference bookstore. Sigh. I made my way down there, learned what needed to be done.

It was a quiet night. Most everyone already knew other people and were out hanging with their friends. Or at least that's what it felt like. Then I got to talking with the woman sharing bookstore duty with me. Her day had been way worse than mine. But she had a quirky sense of humor and gamely listened as I rambled on about the story I was pitching. We just clicked and found ourselves hightailing to a nearby food court for supper. We chatted long after the McDonald's had closed.

God orchestrated that meeting between Jen AlLee and I. She is my best friend even though we live time zones apart. The more I get to know this funny, wise, amazing woman, the more I know how blessed I am to have her in my life, if only so I can listen to her stories. And now I get the great privilege of introducing her next book to you.

Maura Sullivan never intended to set foot in Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind: a husband who ignored her, a congregation she couldn’t please, and a God who took away everything she loved.

Nick Shepherd had put the past behind him. At least he thought he had, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Intending only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick finds his feelings for her never died. Now, he must face the mistakes he made and find a way to give and receive forgiveness.

As God works in both their lives, Nick and Maura believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has something to tell Nick before they can move forward. It’s what ultimately drove her to leave six years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve begun to rebuild.

I feel like a proud Auntie about this book. I in no way can claim credit for the product, but I'm as happy as if I could. Believe me, this book is one you will want to get. The characters are so relatable and the conflict so universal. We have all felt hemmed in by other people's expectations at times.

You can order The Pastor's Wife through Amazon, Cokesbury, and or at a brick and mortar bookstores near you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Queen Elizabeth's Fantasy

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was at odds with her Tudor family from the day of her birth. Proclaimed queen of Scotland when she was less than a year old, she also had a strong claim to the English throne. Her mother was Henry the Eight’s sister. When first Edward, and then Mary Tudor died, the English throne devolved to Elizabeth, but her mother’s marriage to Henry had already been annulled and her legitimacy denied by the English Parliament. At the end of his life, Henry had tried to fix the problem by unequivocally stating the line of succession in his will, but that patch was too little too late.

Thus the stage was set for a battle of wills between these first cousins, both of whom were reigning queens. Unfortunately for Mary, Elizabeth had the upper hand. England at the time was more prosperous and more populous. It was strong militarily and had the advantage of a centralized government that made its sovereign less dependent on her conniving Lords.

Mary, on the other hand, was consistently undermined by the Lairds and even faced down open rebellion more than once. It was clan politics and petty power struggles that led to her beheading, more than anything else. It also enabled Elizabeth to establish her preeminence.

One of the major sanctions that Elizabeth imposed upon learning that it was Mary’s intention to marry again, was a demand that she have a say in the selection of husband. And this is where Elizabeth’s world began to dissolve into fantasy. When asked whom she had in mind, she actually suggested that Mary marry Robert Dudley. Elizabeth’s favorite courtier, and a man most assume to have been her lover. The gossip was as rife then as it is today, and Mary was more than offended at the suggestion, but for political reasons acted as if the match might work.

But Elizabeth’s delusions seemed to know no bounds. It seems she regretted her suggestion, but could hardly tell Mary not to marry Dudley when it had been her idea in the first place. Her solution? She sent a letter to Mary, with the proposal that, once married she and Dudley should move to England and live with Elizabeth! Elizabeth would, of course, support them.

Can you imagine such a proposal made to a reigning monarch? Not only was she supposed to leave the governing of her country to others, in order to mooch around Elizabeth’s court, but she was also, apparently supposed to share her husband with her first cousin. Yikes! I guess no one ever accused Elizabeth of not being a gutsy broad.

Needless to say, this bit of fantasy on Elizabeth’s part was not fulfilled. Mary went on to marry an Englishman with a claim to the English succession that nearly matched her own. An alliance that produced an heir, but eventually led to her downfall.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Did you hear about the Jacksons?

When General Andrew Jackson, the hero of New Orleans married his wife, Rachel she was still married to her first husband, Lewis Robards. The couple always claimed that Robards told them he had submitted the divorce papers. He, of course, denied it.

Jackson remarried Rachel in 1794, but the scandal resurfaced decades later when he ran for president in 1824. Jackson still managed to win the popular vote and even gained the most electoral college votes, but without a clear majority it fell to the House of Representatives to name the new president. After only one round of voting, John Quincy Adams was named the sixth president of the United States.

Four years later, the same ugly stories once more reared their heads. It is said that throughout his life Andrew Jackson fought thirteen duels. Many of them over his wife’s honor. This time, however, Jackson had the satisfaction of soundly thrashing Adams in the race for the presidency. Unfortunately, just two weeks after the results were known, and before her husband took office, Rachel Jackson died. Andrew Jackson blamed the scandal mongering and never forgave John Quincy Adams or his party.

Why is it that we tend to think of history as decorous and well-mannered? I guess politics has always been an ugly business.

Must Reads

  • All the Tea in China-Jane Orcutt
  • In the Shadow of the Sun King-Golden Keyes Parsons
  • Wings of a Dream-Anne Mateer