When Worlds Collide

I’m nearing the finish line on writing the third Hickory Ridge novel to be called EVERY PERFECT GIFT.  Although it retains the elements of historical romance my readers are coming to expect, it is in some ways the most complex of my books.  Those who have read BEYOND ALL MEASURE will remember Sophie , the beautiful little girl whom Wyatt and Ada adopt from the local orphanage. Now Sophie is all grown up, with a fine education, and back in Hickory Ridge to make  her mark as editor of the local newspaper, the Gazette.  But questions and secrets about her parentage linger. She meets Ethan Heyward, son of a Georgia plantation owner who is keeping secrets of his own.

In creating Ethan’s background, I was reminded again of the vast differences separating the plantation owners and their slaves. Though the African culture was rich in story and  deep in faith, those qualities were often buried beneath the crushing weight of endless work. When the Union army marched through Georgia, it’s no wonder some slaves revolted. A few murdered their owners as they slept. Many took their chances and headed for freedom. Their choices affected not only their lives and futures, but those of the planter class, too.  It’s those choices and their repercussions that I so enjoyed exploring in  writing Ethan’s story.

This Savannah house is symbolic of a romantic mystery involving General William T Sherman, President Lincoln, and the city of Savannah. On November 16, 1864 Sherman and his army of 62,000 men  began his famous march to the sea.  He burned Atlanta to the ground, and swept across a 60 mile front, essentially cutting the south in two. Confederate General William Hardee evacuated Savannah three days before Christmas, on December 21st. Sherman occupied the city that same day.

Many expected the ruthless Yankee to burn Savannah to the ground as well, but for some reason, he chose to preserve it. Some say he was instantly smitten with a beautiful Savannah woman. In any case, he sent the president a telegram which said, “Mr President, I give you the city of Savannah as a Christmas present.”

Lovers of history can be grateful. Walking through the rooms of this beautiful old house, and others like it,  it’s easy to imagine those who went before us and the lives they led. Walking through the slave quarters it’s  easy to imagine the tortured realities that ensued when two worlds, two cultures clashed.