The Quakers of New Garden
by Claire Sanders
My latest publication is an inspirational romance titled “New Garden’s Inspiration”. You can find it in “The Quakers of New Garden”, one of the Romancing America series from Barbour Books. Three of the stories in this collection concern Quakers who lived in Indiana during the 19th century and one story is contemporary.
The heroine in my story is named Leah Wall. Since she long ago accepted that she’d be the unmarried poor relation for the rest of her life, she’s thrilled to find out her uncle has arranged a marriage for her. Once she’s married though, she discovers that she’s little more than a housekeeper and caregiver for her husband’s children and elderly aunt.
Writing for the Christian market has been an interesting journey. At first, I thought this genre would be quite limiting. After all, the publishing houses are quite clear about all the things that can’t be written about in an inspirational romance – sex, cursing, or anything that could be considered blasphemous. Plus, my research into the genre showed many stories that leaned heavily on preaching. What interested me more was how Christians handle the many challenges they face in life.
Once I focused on that question, story ideas flourished in my mind. For example, I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Rachel and Leah in Genesis, chapters 29-35. Jacob fell in love with Rachel, the younger and prettier sister. He agreed to work for her father for seven years in exchange for the right to marry her. But on his wedding night, he discovers he’s married Rachel’s older sister, Leah. There are many lessons to learn from Jacob and Rachel, but the character who interested me the most was Leah.
Can you imagine how Leah felt? She knows she’s not what Jacob wanted, and she knows she’s not as pretty as her younger sister. But she has no choice but to participate in her father’s deceitful plan. Many of us know the sting of rejection, but Leah could be named the Patron Saint of Rejection!
It was no accident that the heroine of “New Garden’s Inspiration” is named Leah. I wanted to explore how a Christian woman would react to the sting of rejection. Leah Wall was rejected by the young men of her home village, rejected by her uncle who saw her as an unwanted poor relation, and then rejected by the man she married. How easy it would be for her to become bitter and resentful. But the Leah of my story is neither meek nor brash. She sticks to what is true in herself and answers each challenge in the spirit of love.
How Leah handles this less-than-happy-ever-after marriage is the basis for the story, and I hope you’ll check it out. I would love an email from you with your thoughts. You can always contact me through my website www.clairesandersbooks.com.