(The image for the cover of Walk by Faith)
In the novels that follow Saint Maggie, Maggie Beatty Blaine Smith finds herself in situations over which she has even less control than she did in Blaineton.
Walk by Faith opens in early 1863 with Maggie’s boarding house and Eli’s print shop burning to the ground. The event is the work of arsonists out to teach a lesson to Maggie and her family.
Confused and frightened, the boarding house family takes refuge in Madame Louisa’s dry goods shop. Shortly thereafter, the homeless group moves into Maggie’s brother Samuel now that the break between them has healed.
Despite her brother and sister-in-law’s kindness, Maggie feels abandoned by Eli, who is working as a war correspondent for his little penny weekly, The Gazette. He also took his friend, Chester Carson, with him. Also missing are the men in her daughters’ lives: Frankie’s beau, Patrick McCoy, and Lydia’s husband, Edgar Lape. Thus, the layers of protection afforded by having six men around her has been reduced to three: Nate Johnson and James “Grandpa” O’Reilly from the boarding house and her brother-in-law.
Maggie’s life spins further out of control when Eli returns to New Jersey with the news that he will be moving everyone to his family’s old home in Gettysburg and will help with the Underground Railroad.
Since Maggie has never been further away from Blaineton than Trenton, moving to an unknown place as refugees is unsettling and contains many unknowns. To make matters worse, once they move in, Eli takes off for the war again and the rift between them deepens on Maggie’s side.
A few months later, in July of 1863, war comes to Gettysburg in the form of one of the more traumatic battles. Now Maggie, Emily, Frankie, and Lydia face caring for wounded soldiers and the arrival of an adversary from Blaineton, who is out for revenge.
After the hellish battle ends, it is safe for Eli, Carson, and Patrick to travel into the town. But, instead of welcoming her husband, a devastated Maggie lashes out at him and ends by giving him the surprising news that she is pregnant.
While my central character clearly has suffered tremendous trauma, her time in Gettysburg contributes to her growing strength and resolve, as well as gives her a clear-eyed understanding of the world beyond Blaineton.
But right now, at the conclusion of Walk by Faith, Maggie needs to recover and rest, something which Eli aims to give her in the following book, A Time to Heal.
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder