Posted by Literary Titan
Every mother’s journey is unique, however, they all share one thing: heartache. In one way or another, every mother travels down a difficult road as she fights tooth and nail to bring her child to adulthood unscathed. Sandra Bowman, author of The Farthest-Reaching Ball: A Memoir of Motherhood is no stranger to heartache. As the mother of two children, Grant and Parker, Bowman relates the trials and tribulations she overcomes as she raises her children virtually on her own. A mother’s love is nowhere more evident than in Bowman’s explanation of how she comes to understand the needs of her children and the struggle that has permeated her son’s life since an early age.
Sandra Bowman describes virtually every aspect of her journey as a mother in her poignant memoir, The Farthest-Reaching Ball. She details the birth of her sons so vividly that I felt, as the reader, that I attended the delivery. Her emotions surrounding the births are clearly drawn, and any parent who has experienced a particularly difficult birth will appreciate how very frank Bowman is with her details.
As a teacher, I am struck by the battle Bowman and her son, Grant, face as he begins school. His gifts are both amazing and obvious to all, but the obstacles he faces are numerous. Children with talents beyond those of the average child are often overlooked in the regular classroom, and they are not always afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills. Grant is one of those children with a mother on a mission to find a setting that suits her child’s best interests.
When Bowman’s son begins to experience behavior challenges and depression sets in, the author’s challenges multiply. Moreover, Grant’s own slowly-revealed identity crisis begins to consume his thoughts and every interaction. Bowman is more than understanding and is the proverbial mother bear–she is fierce and stops at nothing to make sure her child is content with himself. The author is beyond adept at communicating her feelings and her ever-fluctuating fears regarding Grant’s mental state. His worries are her worries, and his unhappiness is hers to bear.
There doesn’t seem to be a problem Bowman and her son haven’t endured. From excessive weight gain, to depression, to attention deficit disorder, Grant runs the gamut. Bowman is exceptionally open with her own feelings of defeat, despair, and utter helplessness. She is at loss as to how to help her son deal with an identity crisis that threatens to be the end of them all. Mothers of all walks of life can relate to Bowman’s honesty as she admits to her own suicidal thoughts.
I am impressed with Bowman’s forthrightness and openness. She lays out every frustration, worry, and obstacle for readers and shares with them the most intimate of details about her own regrets as a mother. Parents of children struggling with identity crises of all types will appreciate Bowman’s story.
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Posted by Literary Titan
Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.
I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.
After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy, I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.
I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?
Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.
In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.
Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?
Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.
At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.
Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on Amazon.com. It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.
On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.
But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.
Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?
Posted in Interviews
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