A Lady in Attendance
Genres: Historical, Romance
Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs, Yours Truly, Thomas, and A Life Once Dreamed. Fans expect stories with heart and she delivers, diving deep into the human experience and tugging at reader emotions. She loves connecting with people, traveling to new places, and daydreaming about future projects that will have sigh-worthy endings and memorable characters. She is a busy mom, raising both biological and foster children (a cause she feels passionate about). She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
The inspiration for A Lady in Attendance came from a couple different places.
First, my husband is a dentist, and we always joke about the way dentists are represented in the media. They are often comical characters or villains. I decided I wanted to write a romantic dentist! While researching historical dentists, I came across information about the first dental assistants, and since that is a career I have not seen featured in a novel, I decided to have Hazel work as a dental assistant (at that time they were called attending ladies or a lady in attendance).
Second, I had come across the reformatory movement while researching and knew I wanted my heroine to have spent time in such a facility. Her “blemished” past is something timeless I wanted my character, as well as readers who have judged someone based on their past, to wrestle with.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Hazel and Gilbert are two of my favorite characters. Spending time writing their story was a blissful, joyful experience.
Hazel is witty and sunshiny but also troubled. Her years spent at the reformatory changed her, but she’s also scarred by her past and doesn’t know how to move beyond that. Gilbert is quiet and reserved, and he believes he is content as a bachelor. He’s perfect in so many ways . . . which creates a conflict in itself as these two very different people ask if there is a way for them to share a future.
It’s my hope that despite the historical setting, modern readers will be able to relate to Hazel and Gilbert and find them as delightful as I do.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Definitely Hazel! I write by the seat of my pants, so I only know a handful of things about the story when I begin. Hazel was an onion; every chapter, every scene, I learned more about her past, her hopes, her losses, her family, and her heart.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Storytelling is full of doors for readers to come in and safely explore feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and love. One reader might relate to one character while someone else is drawn in another direction. There is freedom for exploration and interpretation. The fictional aspects allow us to relax, open up, and in subtle ways be taught and explore as we ask, “What would I do?” or “How would I feel?”
There are some who say fiction is a waste of time, but I disagree. As a writer, even when I write fictional characters, I pull from the real world, from my own experiences and the experiences of others. There is truth in all of that, mixed with a lovely dose of fiction! We know there are different learning styles; for me, story is a powerful teacher.
FF: How has your faith or worldview impacted the way you tell stories?
When I originally decided to open a blank document and attempt to write a novel, I had no idea I would publish it. I needed a creative outlet, so when my husband said, “You read so much, why not write a book?” I decided to attempt to write something my daughter could read someday (she was only six at the time). As a parent, I aim to add beautiful, moral, faith-promoting things into my children’s lives, so of course that is the type of book I wanted to write.
Does that mean there is nothing gritty? No. For me it means that evil is seen as evil and good is seen as good. When hard, real-life things happen, they are handled in a God-fearing (God-loving) way.
This image of my daughter as my reader has been a guide for me, as has my belief that God knows the words of my stories and my heart. My books tend to have subtle moral messages. They aren’t “preachy” but will hopefully make readers pause and think—and of course ultimately be swept away by an engaging story.
This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . .and their hearts
Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.
Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.
A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.
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