This novel (Simon & Schuster, 2009) is a departure from Sandra Brown’s usual romance and romantic suspense. There is romance in it, but the crux of the story deals with Ella who is left alone to raise her 10-year-old son, Solly, hard to handle and needing special care in this decade long before the word ‘autism’ was used. She’s turned her old family home in a smallTexastown into a boarding house, aided by a black woman who cooks and cleans and helps care for the child. Ella’s life is regimented in her effort to keep it from flying out of control – then Mr. Rainwater moves in for a few weeks.
The depression has forced hardships on everybody in the region. People have lost their homes, whole families live in homeless camps, the Ku Klux Klan has reared its ugly head, ranchers are forced by a new government policy to sell their healthiest cattle for pennies – and watch the rest of the herd slaughtered where they stand. Times are hard, values strained to the limit, and the town bully delights in causing even more pain and trouble.
The story doesn’t hesitate to show the growing racial tension and social unrest, the ugliness of a few preying on the rest, the hatred and suspicion on one side, love and respect on the other. Meanwhile, Ella does what she must to support herself and her son and watches with discomfort as Mr. Rainwater insinuates himself with kindness deeper and deeper into their lives. On a steaming summer night, the latent violence erupts. Nothing would be the same again, including Ella’s life.
Despite the grimness of the time and events, this tale is one of love and hope. As the jacket blurb says, “It tells a story that bears witness to a bittersweet truth: that love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.”
About the Author
Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a former psychology researcher and writer/editor with an interest in healing writing and the benefits of writing and reading work together. Widely published in poetry and nonfiction, she writes for the review department of Recovering the Self: a journal of hope and healing and has authored ten chapbooks of poetry.