|Available now at Amazon.com|
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Amy: Hi, Mom! Let's start out with some background on the book River Rest. What was your inspiration for the story?
Susan: River Rest is purely fiction, but many of the events in it were inspired by things that really happened in my family. My great-aunt Belle left a journal she wrote in the 1920s and ’30s. It gave such a vivid picture of life in rural Maine that I wanted to write a story in that setting. I decided to push it back to 1918, near the end of World War I, because of the added tension, and because my grandfather (Aunt Belle’s brother-in-law) served. I adapted some details of his story to fit my heroine’s brother.
Aunt Belle noted so many cultural things in her diary—who she voted for, the famous boxers of the day, the way the neighboring farm boys were building tractors out of truck chassis, and all the community events and gossip. She never had children of her own, but she doted on her nieces and nephews. I think I would have loved her.
Amy: Cool. I remember you sharing details from the old diary years ago when you first transcribed it. Tell us more about Judith, the main character inspired by great-aunt Belle.
|Inspirational author Susan Page Davis|
Amy: I was looking at some of Nana's fudge recipes recently in the family cookbook. I don't think I have the knack for candy making that she had. Like your character Judith, you taught school, and then you homeschooled your six children.
Amy: And a good job you did of it, in my humble opinion. Is there a certain Bible verse that is important to the story? What spiritual themes do you bring out?
Susan: Matthew 11:28-30 is at the front of the book. The last part of that is,
“...and ye shall find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”The Christian theme is spiritual rest/peace. Judith feels inadequate. Her mother always seemed so serene and at peace, and she chose the farm’s name, River Rest. But Judith can’t seem to latch onto that restfulness. She also becomes very concerned about being an example to the younger children and especially keeping watch over her next-younger sister, Christina. She assumes the mother role and finds it challenging and sometimes wearisome.
Amy: I guess every Christian woman can relate to that! It sounds like this book will appeal to readers who are looking for clean historical romance. Who is the target readership for the book?
Susan: This book will appeal to a wide range of readers. Judith is young, about 21, and her brother who gets drafted is 19, so young people who like historicals should like it, but it will also appeal to older readers who remember doing things the old way. Some of the activities mentioned, like apple picking, making butter, cutting ice, and quilting, might bring back memories for older readers. The quilting bee, where Judith helps her female relatives make a quilt for an aging uncle, reminded me of times spent with my own mom, sisters, aunts, and cousins. Some of my most cherished memories are of times spent doing productive work with people I love.
Amy: I'm a beginning quilter myself, so I'm always glad to read about quilting in fiction. It's such an important tradition in rural America. The ninth-grade literature anthology I use contains the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, and I use it to springboard to a lot of other quilt-themed activities. Even the boys seem to enjoy it.
I'm looking forward to reading River Rest. Thanks so much for joining me, Mom!
Susan: I'd like to add that there are discussion questions in the back of the book for book clubs, etc. Thank you for having me.
Amy: And one more reminder to enter to win a copy of the book by leaving a comment for Susan below! Mention "Christian Teacher" when you post on Susan's Facebook page for a bonus entry.
Buy River Rest here. Don't forget to share Susan's interview and follow her on Twitter @SusanPageDavis!
May we all remember to take time for resting in the Lord.