A Tendering in the Storm,
by Jane Kirkpatrick, 2007, 383 pages.
WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House Inc.,
I have been invited to take part in a blog tour for Kirkpatrick's historical novel A Tendering in the Storm - the second in the "Change and Cherish Historical Series."
Clear evidence that the publicity department for that particular imprint is hardly stuck in horse and buggy mode.
The novel continues the first person chronicle of one Emma Giesy, a German-American member of a religious commune that pioneered in Washington Territory in the years surrounding 1856.
Emma is an "uppity woman" - independent, stubborn, determined, self-willed - and very like the cult leader she rebels against.
A Tendering is primarily a story of a spiritual journey within a minority Christian context . An exploration and a negotiation of the conflicts that ensue - both insidious and direct - between any true individual and any society .
A story skillfully rich in the complexity of choices, of consequences, of emotions, and a recognition that there are never easy, simple answers to simple truths or simple and sincere desires.
Yet it is an easy read in Kirkpatrick's clean style - one without cliche and without conceit, as individual as Emma herself.
And Emma is not imaginary. Her story and her interaction with members of the Aurora/Bethel Colonies are the result of considerable and careful research and based on real people and events.
A review of Kirkpatrick's credits (some eleven novels and a pair of non-fiction works): A Tender Ties historical series, Kinship and Courage trilogy, for example, implies her focus is toward the Christian book club and study group market. Indeed, this novel contains "Discussion Questions" as an addendum and I note that Kirkpatrick is a licensed clinical social worker and retreat leader.
However, while the religious context of the novel is Christian, it is not thus limited. Her competent examination and exploration of spiritual challenges and frustrations may apply to any ethical quest, inquiry or interest.
Kirkpatrick's second focus is the Northwest and the Oregon trail. She won the Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center for A Sweetness to the Soul - the outstanding Western Novel of 1995.
Nevertheless, the title from her backlist that intrigues me most is from an anthology: Crazy Woman Creek.
For those with a historical interest - whether regional, utopian or feminine - Kirkpatrick's A Tendering in the Storm is a good bargain and a fair deal.