Two novels reflect on women’s strength, cultivated through their faith in God and in themselves.
For centuries, women’s roles have been defined for them, their voices and capacities restricted by discriminatory societal standards. In two new inspirational novels, women from different historical eras strive to overcome personal limitations in order to define their own identities.
Inspired by a true story, Jane Kirkpatrick’s uplifting Something Worth Doing introduces Abigail Jane “Jenny” Scott Duniway, an incredibly determined pioneer woman who defies opposition to fight for women’s rights.
From a young age, Jenny experiences the societal barriers placed before girls and women. Despite protests from Jenny’s mother, Jenny’s father decides that the family will move from Illinois to the Oregon Territory. The journey jeopardizes his wife’s health, and she dies before the family arrives at their new home. In 1853, Jenny’s confidence and intelligence lead her to a position as a teacher, one of the few professions accessible to women at the time. After marrying Ben Duniway and joining him on his farm, Jenny begins to write about women’s issues for the local newspaper. This is a big step away from her upbringing, as her father opposed any form of public expression by women.
Even in the face of devastating financial loss, Jenny never gives up, and her tenacity pulls her family through difficult times, including Ben’s injury and incapacitation. In 1871, Jenny founds The New Northwest, a newspaper that gives women’s issues a platform, including the controversial topic of women’s suffrage.
Jenny is bold in her attempts to challenge and bring down sexist social norms, and her efforts receive immense opposition, including hostility from her influential brother. She remains unfazed, continuing to navigate the limitations of being a woman while fighting for reform. Though discouraged many times, she uses every opportunity to empower women, and her efforts become pivotal in the arduous struggle to attain the right to vote for women.
Jaime Jo Wright’s thrilling and mysterious The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is set in the fictional town of Bluff River, Wisconsin, and intertwines the stories of two women who live a century apart.
On the surface, Pippa Ripley’s life appears privileged. Adopted into the family of a wealthy circus owner, Pippa is surrounded by the finer things that life in 1928 has to offer. Although she remains submissive and obedient to her tyrannical father, Pippa also feels a bond with the “misfit” circus people. Still, Pippa is burdened by, even obsessed with, finding out about her origins, but her adoptive parents are unwilling to reveal the truth.
Pippa becomes entangled in a dangerous chase as she tries to get close to the man she believes has the answers to her questions. Meanwhile, the circus faces fierce opposition from an animal rights group, and a serial killer lurks aboard the circus train. Pippa’s engagement to a dictatorial man, chosen for her by her father, further complicates matters. Through it all, Pippa remains resolute about discovering her roots, and she soon learns to stand up to her oppressors.
In the present day, real estate project manager and single parent Chandler Faulk hopes to catch a break in Bluff River, where she’s been given a rare opportunity to work for her uncle. She wants to provide the best care she can for her young son, Peter, but an autoimmune disease slows her down. She soon learns that the circus train depot, which she has been hired to renovate, was the site of a string of murders that left their mark on the town’s history. Bluff River may be fraught with ghost stories, but Chandler is willing to do whatever it takes to prove her competence and take care of Peter.
With the support of amazing friends, Pippa and Chandler both display courage as they face frightening ordeals. Wright entertains with fast pacing, great writing, deep spiritual truths and just the right amount of spookiness.