Friday, December 28, 2012

A Clearing in the Wild (Change and Cherish Historical #1) by Jane Kirkpatrick

Young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of Bethel colony, an 1850s religious community in Missouri that is determined to remain untainted by the concerns of the world. A passionate and independent thinker, she resents the limitations placed on women, who are expected to serve in quiet submission. In a community where dissent of any form is discouraged, Emma finds it difficult to rein in her tongue–and often doesn’t even try to do so, fueling the animosity between her and the colony’s charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader, Wilhelm Keil.

Eventually Emma and her husband, Christian, are sent along with eight other men to scout out a new location in the northwest where the Bethelites can prepare to await “the last days.” Christian believes they’ve found the ideal situation in Washington territory, but when Keil arrives with the rest of the community, he rejects Christian’s choice in favor of moving to Oregon.

Emma pushes her husband to take this opportunity to break away from the group, but her longed-for influence brings unexpected consequences. As she seeks a refuge for her wounded faith, she learns that her passionate nature can be her greatest strength–if she can harness it effectively.

My Thoughts:

This is my first experience with Jane Kirkpatrick's work but it surely won't be my last. I am taken with how amazing her writing style is and this book and it's emphasis on a fascinating historical period make it a winner in my book!

I commend the author for taking on this time period and it's issues such as women's roles. I appreciated the slower moving pace of the plot-line because it allowed me as a reader to focus on the important details and issues that the author covers.

I adore novels where there is a real connection to true history and that makes me appreciate this one even more. The author's careful time and research pertaining to the development of the characters is evident and appreciated. I think it adds a depth to this story that would otherwise not be there. Character and setting are the two most important aspects of a good novel because if those are there, the plot-line will be easier to follow - Kirkpatrick certainly recognizes that as well!

I look forward to reading the rest of the series and have added it to my TBR list.

About the Author:

Jane grew up near Mondovi, Wisconsin, a little town not far from the Mississippi River. Her older sister Judy (now deceased) and younger brother Craig helped on the family dairy farm. Dozens of cousins lived within 50 miles providing the privilege of extended family memories. Most of the "Rutschow" clan remained in the Wisconsin-Minnesota area. Jane moved to Oregon in 1974 after completing her master's degree in social work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She worked in the disabilities field and became the director of the mental health program in Deschutes County and the first female president of the Oregon Community Mental Health Director's Association.

Homesteading & Family

Eventually, Jane "retired" to homestead and begin a new adventure in writing, working on the Warm Springs Indian reservation, growing watermelons, and attempting to grow grapes, alfalfa and cattle. The Kirkpatrick's new life included "clearing sagebrush and wrestling wind and rattlesnakes" while "homesteading" land on the John Day River in a remote part of Oregon known locally as Starvation Point.  "It was our 'rural 7-Eleven' since our home sat seven miles from the mailbox and eleven miles from the pavement" notes the author. Additionally, she worked for seventeen years as a mental health and educational consultant on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon with both Native American and non-Indian communities, a position she left in 2002.  Jane has two step-children.  Kathleen lives in Florida with her family and youngest granddaughter, Madison.  Matt lives in Wasco and works on the ranch full time when not looking after his family including his and Melissa's daughter, Mariah.

In the fall of 2010, after twenty-six years on the homestead, Jane and Jerry, her husband of 35 years, made another life change moving back to Central Oregon near Bend. "There is a season for everything," Jane notes.  Their seasons on the ranch changed their lives and they leave with no regrets looking forward to new adventures in writing and life.

Speaker & Philosophy

A lively and humorous speaker, Kirkpatrick is a frequent keynote presenter for conferences, women's retreats,fund-raisers and workshops.  In addition to her historical fiction which dramatizes pioneer life, Homestead relates, with love and laughter, her own family's modern-day struggle to catch a dream in the Oregon Territory.

Jane believes that our lives are the stories that others read first and she encourages groups to discover the power of their own stories to divinely heal and transform. Visit her blog for more information about her current projects and the privilege of following one's passion wherever the dreams may lead.

1 comment:

  1. I love Jane Kirkpatrick! I've been reading her since my boys were babies and I would check her books out of the church library. Ahh... the memories.