I have been forever fascinated by the sheer strength in the core of a woman. We women have an ability to reach inside ourselves and find a fortitude we possiblty never knew resided there. In ‘The Book of Esther’ my goal was to bring this out in each generation of the women of the Foley family. Esther is very much a woman of the ’40’s, yet her troubles and triumphs transcend all four generations. Helen is haunted by heartaches of the past, yet she is able to let go and salvage her life. A bout with cancer leaves Ivy lost in a vortex of regret. A near tragedy and the love of those around her help her to see her part in the choices life has presented. And young Maddie, so angry at the world, uses her art to deal with the pain. Together all of these women, in their own way, will chip away at the past to discover the truth of their family.
My husband and I attended Jonesfest in Kennan, WI this last Saturday night. This is the perfect example of a few making a difference for many. The event was put together by people who simply love to perform and saw a need. It is no secret that our rural schools here in northern Wisconsin are suffering as I’m sure rural schools are across the country.
Local bands performed in front of a cabin free of charge to a crowd of about 400 (I’m guessing), served food for a donation and sold beverages. Several raffles took place as well. The generosity of people was amazing as was the talent displayed.
As I sat there on my lawn chair under the stars, white lights hanging from the trees, a bonfire lighting the night from beyond, and the rousing strains of fiddles and guitars filling my ears, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect country night.
And the best part – all proceeds went to the Phillips School Districts music department.
As I wrote “The Book of Esther’, where four generations of women come together to solve a family mystery, I paid special attention to the differences between those generations. Esther’s life was very different, her choices were different, than those of her granddaughter, Ivy.
This had come very much to light this week as the small town I live in suffered a tragedy. A young woman was killed by her husband. Immediately, people are thinking, how did I know her, did I know the monster she was married to, could I have done something, is there something I can do now? This is the beauty of life in a small town. The most pressing question now – who will raise her young son and what scars will he be left to bare?
Yes, times have changed, but something like this tells me that some things don’t. God speed, Dawn.
I love this part of summer when the weather is perfect and there is always a festival to be found. Today it’s Flambeau Rama in Park Falls. Always great to run into old classmates and relatives. And you never know what treasures I’ll find at the craft fair. And the music! PF always does it’s best to bring us the best.
Life is about the choices we make. And while that is not a revelation, it is what draws me to my characters. I am intrigued with the choices of those that lived before us. How those choices shaped their lives and, whether good or bad, how they chose to deal with the consequences. Granted, there are those times life throws us a curve. Still, our response is character building – or not. This is why the women of “The Book of Esther” were so interesting to me.
Esther is one of those women that simply did the best she could with the life she had. Her strength of character is revealed in the fierce protection of her children and the way she allowed her heart to open one last time. Hope remained alive for her until her dying day.
Her daughter, Helen, a spitfire as a child, allowed her heart to close to those around her for her own protection. It is not until life sends her a curve that she never saw coming, does she let down her guard. Helen’s strength is truly admirable, yet she does not see that her steely countenance is damaging to those around her. Now, remains have been discovered and the whole town is looking to Helen for answers.
Ivy is Helen’s niece and Esther’s granddaughter. Her children stumble onto a body stuffed in a tree at the back of their farm. With a life already turned on its axis by cancer and a troubled marriage, she has begun to question all that she has and yearn for the love she was denied as a child.
Maddie, Ivy’s daughter, is a troubled young girl. Life was difficult enough. After finding the remains behind their farm, she becomes the victim of ridicule as well. The pain of it all becomes too much to bear.
I enjoyed writing each of these remarkable women. Just as the spirit of Esther nudged Ivy from time to time, did the voices of my past. “The Book of Esther” has a message for women of every generation. I hope you enjoy the journey.