Today’s post by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Yona Zeldis McDonough to share a bit about her new novel, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!
Susannah Gilmore, the protagonist of my seventh novel, The House on Primrose Pond, is determined to start over. After her husband is tragically killed in a bicycle accident, she packs up her two teen-aged kids and moves to Eastwood, New Hampshire, to take up residence in a house on a pond that her parents left to her.
But when she arrives, Susannah’s forward-thrust is derailed by the love letter that she finds tucked in a volume of poetry up in the attic. The letter is written to her mother—but it’s quite clear that the handwriting is not her father’s. So instead of moving ahead with her life, Susannah finds herself yanked back into the past, searching the house and property for other clues to her mother’s long-held secret. She extends her search by scoping out various men her mother knew, wondering which, if any, could be the man she is looking for, the man who will finally unravel the mystery that was her mother. In the process, she reconnects with Corbin Bailey, sexy guy who was the out-of-reach older brother of the boy she dated the one summer she spent on the pond. Is she ready to fall in love again? And if she is, is Corbin the one?
The next but when moment occurs when she decides to switch gears professionally. Instead of pursuing the minor European aristocrats who generally populate the historical novels she writes, Susannah decides to work on the tragic story of Ruth Blay, who, in 1768, was the last woman hanged in the state of New Hampshire. Blay, who was unmarried, was accused of killing her newborn baby girl. She maintained her innocence throughout her trial but was eventually found guilty of what was then a capital offense: concealing the birth of illegitimate child. She mounted the gallows on December 31, before a restless crowd in what is now Portsmouth’s South Cemetery. Although Susannah is fascinated by what she has learned, her editor is less keen on the idea and so Susannah must convince her that Ruth’s story is one worth telling. The convergence of past and present, the themes of guilt, innocence and ultimately redemption are what bring this novel together and I hope my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed the writing of it.
A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of You Were Meant For Me.
After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.
While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.
Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…