Today Wednesday Writers welcome Lynne Tagawa to the blog. To pique your curiosity, she’ll be interviewing a character from her historical novel The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening. She’s also sharing an excerpt from the story, so keep reading to the end. Welcome, Lynne!
The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening
An Interview with John Russell
Q: Mr. Russell, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself. What brings you to Philadelphia? I understand it’s a long trip from the Shenandoah Valley.
A: Aye, it’s a good distance. We need supplies. For good linen, flour, molasses and such, ye need to come—at least as far as Lancaster. Or east over Rockfish Gap. And I have family here.
A: My father and my brother and his family. And . . . well, I wrote Da about a wife.
Q: You mean to marry?
A: [clears throat] Aye, I need to marry. My wife . . . died. Was killed. It were an accident, ye see? Not a massacre, not really. A stray musket ball. The valley is not as dangerous as some make out. The Indians rarely trouble us.
Q: I am sorry for your loss. You mean to marry again?
A: Aye. My daughter, Susanna, is four. [pause] She needs a mother.
Q: Your father is going to help you?
A: He wants me to meet the daughter of the chandler he does the books for. He says they are godly folk, but they’re New Englanders, ye ken? So we’ll see. I had hoped to meet a young woman at the Reverend Tennent’s meetinghouse, but they all know how Janet died. The mothers aren’t quite sure about me.
Q: Tennent? Is he the Presbyterian minister who supports George Whitefield’s ministry?
A: Oh, aye—ye’ll know of Whitefield’s preaching? I’ve not heard him in person myself, but Mr. Franklin carries his sermons. And have ye seen that huge meetinghouse they built for him? Philadelphia is a changed place since I’ve been here last.
Q: I do hope you find what you’re looking for, Mr. Russell.
A: Thank ye kindly.
The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening
By Lynne Tagawa
John Russell’s heart aches from the loss of his wife, but the Shenandoah Valley frontiersman needs to marry again for his daughter’s sake. At first he believes he has found the right young woman, despite their differences in background, but his faith falters when time reveals she isn’t quite what she seemed. Can he truly love her? And what about his own failings?
Unlike her disgraced sister, Abigail Williams obeys the Commandments. At least, she thinks herself a Christian until a buckskin-clad newcomer courts her. He treats her kindly but also introduces her to a sermon by the controversial preacher, George Whitefield. Her self-righteousness is shattered, and she wonders about their relationship. If she confesses her lack of faith, will John continue to love her?
“Lynne Tagawa transports readers into the faith and hope, and sorrows and fears of 18th century colonial America. While other books feature the raw grit of frontier colonial life, this book goes deeper and reveals the heart.” —Douglas Bond, author of numerous books, including War in the Wasteland and Hostage Lands.
“Raw, realistic, and historically packed, this story will make you think. If you enjoy stories with deep theological themes, you will enjoy this.” —Amber Schamel, author of Solve by Christmas, winner of the 2018 Christian Indie Award
She almost didn’t recognize him. Blinking against the brightness of the sunlight, Abigail stood in the doorway, paralyzed.
An Indian. No, the face was wrong. Blue eyes gazed down at her under concerned brows. John’s face, but he was wearing Indian clothes. A button-less buckskin jacket, belted in place, fell to mid-thigh, where long leggings covered his breeches.
“Abigail, you may sit in the keeping room.” Her mother’s voice seemed far away.
Stepping back, Abigail motioned for John to enter. The smell of herbal salve and new sweat accompanied his strong presence as she led him toward the hearth. An object hung from his belt. Some sort of axe?
She settled on her stool and found her voice. “Welcome.”
Incongruous against the backdrop of buckskin and gleaming steel, a large book nestled easily in John’s broad hand.
Noticing her gaze, he stood and stepped toward her, book in hand. “For you.”
Abigail scanned the front of the leather-bound volume. The title was in Latin. Pharmacopoeia extemporanea. What did that mean?
“My father told me ye like botany. Plants and such.”
She nodded, opening the beautifully embossed cover. “Oh,” she murmured. This was wonderful. She turned a page, transfixed. Some plants she knew, but now she had instructions on their practical uses. Grind finely, steep in hot water …
The sturdy pages crackled slightly as she turned them. Sassafras. Jesuit’s bark. Finally she looked up. “Thank you. I don’t know what happened to my manners.”
“Ye like it?”
“Oh yes. What does the title mean?”
“How to make medicine.”
About the Author:
Lynne Tagawa is married with four grown sons and three marvelous grandbabies. A biology teacher by trade, she teaches part-time, writes, and edits. She’s written a Texas history curriculum in narrative form, Sam Houston’s Republic, and two novels, A Twisted Strand and The Shenandoah Road. Lynne lives with her husband in South Texas.