This lyrical novel is based on a historical figure of the 1800s: the spirited and intelligent Emma Giesy. Emma achieves her goal of separating her family from the repressive religious community in which she grew up. But unexpected and dire consequences leave her family and her faith struggling to survive.
A Story of Tender Truths About a Womans Desperate Efforts
to Shelter Her Family
Determined to raise her children on her own terms, Emma suddenly finds herself alone and pregnant with her third child, struggling to keep her family secure in the remote coastal forest of the Washington Territory. With loss and disappointment as her fuel, she kindles a fire that soon threatens to consume her, making a series of poor choices that take her into dangerous relationships.
As clouds of despair close in, she must decide whether to continue in her own waning strength or to humble herself and accept help from the very people she once so eagerly left behind.
Based on a True Story
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A Tendering in the Storm, written by Jane Kirkpatrick as the second in her Change and Cherish historical series, teaches valuable lessons about giving to others and allowing them to give back. Based on a true story, it focuses on Emma Giesy, the stubborn and independent wife of a Washington Territory pioneer. She has spent the last five years trying to extract her family from the suffocating constraints of a Christian communal society. Just when she has almost succeeded, Emma finds herself a widow and mother of three young children. This story is about her struggles to maintain her independence and keep her family together in the wilderness. Kirkpatrick is brilliant in bringing Emma to life. Readers quickly become attached, suffering and hoping alongside her.
Although told chronologically and mostly from Emmas point of view, a great deal of perspective and flavor is added through journal pages of Louisa, the wife of the leader of the Christian community from which Emma is so desperate to escape. Her character and ponderings bring fullness to the story that could not have been added otherwise. In fact, all of the characters, even the minor ones, are well developed, and readers come to love those whom Emma loves and to despise the ones who treat her badly. Since most of the story is seen through Emmas eyes, readers feel her every hope and heartbreak, especially when she makes a horrible choice in a relationship without consulting God or the ones who love her. When she realizes that things have become worse and not better, all of her hopes fall to the bottom of her heart, and the readers hopes go along with hers.
The basic storyline is rather ironic, as the widowed Emma Giesy struggles to maintain independence from the close-knit Christian society she grew up in, all the while needing its help to survive. Foolishly, she chooses to try to take care of her family apart from her community, and she ends up making a desperate choice that leads her and her loved ones into a horrible relationship and more danger than they ever knew before. Eventually, she has to go back to the very people (and God) she has been running from and learn how to receive help.
Emma is a marvelously complex character. She is stubborn, independent, and embittered by her husbands death, yet incredibly loving and caring toward her children. The other characters in the book create an even more diverse and rich atmosphere, especially Louisa. Hers is the only viewpoint other than Emmas shown in the book, and she gives opinions and examples that put a much different light upon Emmas. And, though they often disagree, Louisa proves to be an inspiration and a safe haven for the widow and her family. Emmas in-laws, though not as deeply explored as some of the other characters, serve as clear examples of why she wanted to escape from the colony and, at the same time, why she needs it so much. Finally, Emmas oldest son Andy innocently shows the uncomplicated consequences of the choices made by Emma and the colony, both good and bad.
It is easy to believe that the characters in this book were once real people; they are complex and beautifully crafted. Jane Kirkpatrick did an excellent job bringing them back to life and recreating the world they lived in. However, Emma experiences a lot of discouragement, and unprepared readers will find themselves becoming depressed right along with her, so real are the circumstances. This story is not meant to entertain readers who want to escape their reality; it is for those who wish to understand it. Kate R. Miller, Christian Book Previews.com
Praise for A Tendering in the Storm
By Jane Kirkpatrick
"A Clearing in the Wild is a joy to read....It satisfies on every level."
Historical Novels Review
"Jane Kirkpatrick again proves herself to be one of the finest writers working in historical fiction today. With A Tendering in the Storm, Kirkpatrick applies her usual meticulous research and rich period detail to give readers a wonderful story with strong, unforgettable characters. Beautifully and thoughtfully written as always, this novel will capture your attention, your imagination, and your heart."
B.J. Hoff, author of the Mountain Song Legacy and An Emerald Ballad
"In A Tendering in the Storm, Jane Kirkpatrick continues the story of the tensions between the individual and the community that is at the core of the communal experience. The voices of Emma Giesy and Louisa Keil offer personal and passionate perspectives of these often conflicting views. Kirkpatrick presents a historically based and emotionally charged account of challenges, change, and charity."
James J. Kopp, Communal Historian, Aurora Colony Historical Society Board of Directors, and the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
"A Tendering in the Storm is one of Jane Kirkpatricks most compelling novels yetand thats saying something! With her skilled and lyrical writing, Kirkpatrick brings to vivid life the beauty and severity of pioneer living, a complex provocative villain, and a story that grabs the reader and wont let go. But most of all, Emma Giesy emerges as a remarkable heroine: appealing and vulnerable, but possessing tenacious courage and true strength. This book kept me turning pages far into the night!"
Cindy Swanson, online reviewer and radio host
"Jane Kirkpatricks riveting history of Emma Wagner Giesy holds up an antique mirror whereby we may regard ourselves today. Kirkpatrick s intuitive, effulgent prose leads us from our self-possessed age to the nineteenth century where we participate through Emma in an emerging civilization. Kirkpatrick tears away the proscenium, allowing us to experience Emmas firm opinions, ravaging losses, fathomless grief. Emmas life teaches us that without community we lose synergy, love, protectionand perhaps even God. Yet without a strong sense of self, we have no convictions, no dreamsno sehnsucht (to borrow Emmas word) and therefore, nothing to contribute. In seeing ourselves through this true, fictional rendering of a real life, perhaps we can find the courage to grow and the wisdom to learn."
Dorothy Allred Solomon, author of In My Fathers House; Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy; Daughter of the Saints; and Sisterhood
"Once again Jane Kirkpatrick's attention to historic detail brings the hardscrabble existence of the Willapa Bay pioneers to life. In A Tendering in the Storm, Emma Wagner Giesy struggles with choices she makes in response to great tragedy. With rigid honesty, Kirkpatrick shows the consequences of these choices and how Emma regains her strength through love, trust, and sacrifice."
Karla K. Nelson, owner,
Time Enough Books, Ilwaco, WA.
"The title A Tendering in the Storm keenly expresses the continuing story of the intrepid Emma Wagner Giesy as she struggles between the comfort and security of her religious community and self-reliance in the midst of tumult. Jane Kirkpatricks impressive research on this true character reveals many realities of one womans efforts to carve out a life for herself and her children on the burgeoning frontier of Washington Territory. In her engaging style rich with metaphor and imagery, the author explores issues still relevant in todays world: womens rights, child custody, property rights, domestic violence, and religious freedom. Bravo!"
Susan G. Butruille, author of Womens Voices from the Oregon Trail and Womens Voices from the Western
From the Trade Paperback edition.