This fine article by Jennifer Moody says so much about how I hoped a reader would be affected by The Memory Weaver. Her words are a great opening for the launch of my latest. Enjoy!
Written by JENNIFER MOODY, at Albany Democrat-Herald
Here's the thing about memory: It doesn't stay nicely tucked inside just one person's mind. Even unspoken, it can affect entire families, sometimes for generations.
At its heart, that's the lesson of "The Memory Weaver," the newest historical novel by central Oregon author Jane Kirkpatrick. Set in Brownsville in the 1850s, the novel explores the stories of Eliza Hart Spalding and her daughter, Eliza Spalding Warren, and the memories that affected their lives.
The book's official release date is Sept. 1. Kirkpatrick will be part of a launch on Sunday, Sept. 13, that starts with a Daughters of the American Revolution dedication ceremony for Eliza Spalding Warren at 11:15 a.m. at the Brownsville Pioneer Cemetery.
A no-host lunch is planned at Kirks Ferry, where a period ledger records items purchased by Andrew Warren and Henry Hart Spalding.
Kirkpatrick and Linda McCormick of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce will be on hand from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Atavista Event Center in Brownsville, 35580 Highway 228, to discuss the book, the Spalding family and the area's history.
McCormick will show slides related to her own historic work on the Spaldings, light refreshments will be served and a quilt will be raffled to help support Brownsville's library.
Admission is free. All events are open to the public.
Kirkpatrick plans several other Willamette Valley appearances this fall to promote the book. She will be at the main branch of the Albany Public Library at 2 p.m. Nov. 14 and will visit Stayton's public library at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 and The Book Bin in Salem on Sept. 10.
The senior Eliza Spalding worked with her husband, Henry, as a missionary to Northwest Nez Perce tribes in the Lapwai Valley of Idaho. They are credited with creating a written version of the Nez Perce language and using it to translate the gospel of Matthew.
At age 10, little Eliza, studying at the Whitman mission about 100 miles away, barely escaped with her life after Cayuse Indians murdered 12 people there in 1847.
In Kirkpatrick's novel, the massacre is the memory that haunts the family, even after they moved to Brownsville, and especially after the senior Eliza died when the younger was just 13. Henry Spalding, ever driven, becomes even more radical as he grieves the death of his wife and the loss of his missionary work. His oldest daughter, buried in her own grieving and trauma, finds a kind of solace in attention from Andrew Warren, but discovers that carries a price of its own.
“I really wanted to tell the story of how a tragic event affects not just the person in the middle of it but the people around it, the people who just stand and wait," Kirkpatrick said.
Faint of heart readers need not fear: Kirkpatrick doesn't dwell on the gory details of the murders. The struggle to understand is more important to her characters and to her story.
While Kirkpatrick stays true to whatever history is known of her characters, she is clear that her works are fiction.
But even with the art of imagination on her side, this novel was harder to write, Kirkpatrick said, because she was working with so many elements: the younger Eliza's current story, her memories, the flashbacks to her mother's life, and the attempt to balance Henry Spalding's outward actions with his inward struggle.
“It was a lot more threads that I hoped I had pulled together, to make a fiber people could hold onto and say, oh, that’s what that carpet is, that's what that quilt is, that's what that weaving is.”
It was hard to say goodbye to the Spaldings when she wrapped up her work, Kirkpatrick said. So, in a way, she hasn't.
Her next work centers on Tabitha Moffatt Brown, the pioneer who helped found what would become Pacific University. She is in Forest Grove when the missionaries show up, post-massacre, and both Eliza Spaldings make a brief cameo appearance.
“I liked this family," Kirkpatrick said. "They were kind of dysfunctional in their way, but they also truly embodied the pioneer spirit of compassion for your neighbors, being resilient, no blaming the rest of the world for the plight that you have, and being willing to say if I spend too much time blaming other people for my life, it will take me away from the commitments that I have.”
If you might have missed the many events happening between now and the end of September, visit my website here to see all the opportunities for our paths to cross. If you are on facebook, you can see them here as well.
I'm so thrilled to celebrate with my readers and launch of The Memory Weaver, I've decided to do a nice little giveaway. There is a little bit of me sprinkled throughout all the prizes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do giving them. Please share with your friends!
Jane Kirkpatrick Memory Weaver