The third book in the trilogy The Courtship of Lizzie Andrews is in final manuscript form. Now the real work begins—publishing the book. The research was intensive and the project took 15 years to complete.
Nearly four years ago, my husband, as avid reader, was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s. With the completion of the manuscript for book three, he implemented his plan to read the entire trilogy at once, before he forgot. After reading book one, he said, “I knew you could write, but this is really good!” His report on book two came at 2 am the next day, “I couldn’t put it down.” Yesterday, he told his buddy, “Book three is the best.”
Picture this: his friend is a Vietnam Vet, he is battling cancer and my husband is telling him to read a Victorian romance trilogy featuring two teenagers living in the Boston area in the 1850s.
Yet, he may be right. Book three has a twist.
While book two might be predictable—what do you expect from a romance novel titled Will You Marry Me?, book three, Will You Wait for Me?, holds out hope for a happily-ever-after ending.
The outcome of book two was not predicted by the protagonist—Lizzie Andrews did not see it coming. Living with a brother in the throes of melancholy had colored her perception. Even blinded by love, her youthful inexperience had not prepared her for a marriage proposal. Yet, even book two has unpredictable elements. In the midst of the young lovers’ plan for a rendezvous, US Secretary of State Daniel Webster falls from his horse and dies. His tragic death inconvenienced the young lovers but was a nuisance of historic proportion. This brilliant statesman had passed up two opportunities to hold the country’s highest office and was thought to have been the only person who could prevent a war between the states.
As I was writing, I knew and hoped book three would contain the adventure and daring that a guy would like, if you'll excuse my stereotyping here—even a Vietnam Vet. The final story involves ships at sea facing the unpredictable elements Mother Nature throws in the path of any vessel pushing to leave port before winter arrives. That may be the most intriguing part of the trilogy for the story of book three was first told by the New York Herald. It really had to be retold in a book and, for me, the story had to be personal—and romantic.
I am grateful for every twist and turn history provided, from Webster’s death to the inevitable war that freed the slaves. Had any element been different, we certainly would not be telling the story. I am humbled by the stories history provides and honored to tell this one. I hope you enjoy it.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with a book group in Spokane to discuss Book One: Will You Write to Me? This great group, organized by Pat Moseley, suggested we provide some discussion questions for book groups. Here are some suggested questions to start:
Please let me know what you think! Or comment to suggest other questions.
I thought you'd enjoy this book review by "a guy . . . not into romance narratives." He provides great insight to the historical context of the trilogy. Thanks for sharing, Curt!
By Curt Sanders
The first book of three on the courtship of Lizzie Andrews and Edward Jarvis Tenney, 14 and 16 years of age at the time (1850-52) - youthful 1st cousins living in Massachusetts during a fantastic time in American history. Although cousins (not unusual at the time) and young (youth were more mature in a lot of ways then), the letters are a true story view of the young lovers!
Although Lizzie and Edward were engrossed in a courtship in 1850, they did touch upon events surrounding them
- a mere 66 years after the Revolution; 36 years after the War of 1812; and two years after the Mexican-American War.
- Millard Fillmore was President, and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
- Edward made a note on women’s rights after hearing a woman publicly speak - only two years earlier the Seneca Falls New York congregation of women declared universal rights with men.
- Edward also attended a sermon by Octavious Brooks Frothingham (1822-1895) - a lesser known but historically significant abolitionist of slavery.
- Medicine was becoming more a science than philosophy. Lizzie’s brother was one of the first to be treated by the father of American
psychiatry, Dr. Luther V. Bell and his successor Dr. Chauncey Booth.
- Americans were starting to move West - Edward mentions the “Homestead Act” in 1851 (he probably meant the “Donation Land Claim Act of 1850” as the Homestead Act wasn’t enacted
- Also in 1850, the US 1850 Census was the first to give names and more detail on family units - a boon for us genealogists in the future.
- Edward attended a lecture by Edward Everett, that fellow who was well noted for his two-hour stem-winding beautiful orations and was the speaker before Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Lincoln’s few minutes of dedication is remembered; Everett’s is a footnote of history!
Despite being a “guy” and not into romance narratives, I enjoyed reading this book. It was filled with history witnessed by the two young lovers. It made me realize that letter writing was an art then - contrasted with texting and email of today. I can’t wait to read Book Two!!
We have been receiving great feedback about the first book in the trilogy The Courtship of Lizzie Andrews. We appreciate all your comments.
I have been able to respond to everyone except Ellie Moffitt of San Mateo, California. Ellie, if you are checking this blog, there was a problem with the e-mail address you used. If you would like a response, please send us a second message with another address where we might reach you. We appreciate your interest! Thank you.
We are in the process of posting the names and brief bios of all the people Edward mentions in book two and book three. Currently the Who's' Who section only contains those mentioned in book one. This consists of more than a decade of research by my amazing mother. What is on the website will be brief but she has an extensive database if you are seeking additional information. Please send us your questions and comments!
Hope you are enjoying Will You Write to Me? and hope you have a Happy New Year!
Publishing a book to include illustrations from the mid-1800s is challenging. We were not satisfied with the quality of the illustrations we received in the proof copies of book one, Will You Write to Me? As a result, we went back to the drawing board. There is only so much we can do to make 1850 daguerreotypes not look grainy. We think the new and improved illustrations add so much to the story and hope you agree it was worth the wait.
Book two, Will You Marry Me?, is nearly ready to be formatted and our target for publication is March 2015.
Book three, Will You Wait for Me? is on-target to be released in late spring or early summer 2015.
Thank you for your continued interest as this trilogy unfolds at the pace of a 1850's carriage traveling the back-country trails on wooden wheels without a GPS device.
Edward wrote his letters with a nib-tipped pen, dipped in an inkwell.
His light came from a candle, the sun or a gas lamp.
He appropriately respected how relationships were strictly defined and formal, so his communication was courteous and respectful. Inscription was slow, formal, deliberate and, in his case, joyous and hopeful.
This is his first letter...
Ma chere cousine,
Will you write to me? If so, I will proceed; if not, I will end immediately; because, of course you would not wish to receive a letter, which you would not be willing to answer. Therefore, in order that I may do nothing contrary to your desire, I will repeat the query,-"Will you write to me?"
As there is no answer, I shall, according to the principle that "Silence gives consent," take it for granted that your answer is in the affirmative, and act accordingly. If I have erred in my premise, I shall consider the not answering of my note an indication of your displeasure and of course must presume that both my letter and myself are highly objectionable to you and will endeavor for the future, to wound your feelings no more. But I can not believe that you entertain quite so bad an opinion of me and therefore will entreat you to write. If but one line, yet do write to me: the oftener the better.
When I bade you good-bye, on my departure from Salem, I felt as sorry and loth to go as it were possible for me to feel under any circumstances. I left the table before I had finished, in order that I might see you once more before you went to school, but I reached the house five minutes too late. You had just gone, and yet as I gazed down Chestnut Street, if perchance I might see and overtake you before you turned at the corner, there was no Lizzie in sight. As I took my seat in the cars, my thoughts again and again carried me to the source of my pleasant visit, and I lamented the summons that called me home, yes home that I wished so much to see.
Owing to my long and protracted stay in Salem, I did not go to Dedham and see my sister Liz as I originally intended, but was compelled to defer my visit until some time during the present term.
How do my slippers advance? From a source you little suspect, I learned that they were already begun. Slippers do not need "shoe strings" to tie them, do they?
You may expect me to fly down and spend some Sabbath with you when you little dream of my coming. I shall come down some time with JW. So don't be frightened if I drop down very suddenly some time.
But it is 12 o'clock and I have to get up to prayers tomorrow at 5 ½, so I must to bed.
PJ Watters, Author
PJ earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art at the University of California in Santa Barbara. She previously studied theater, dance, writing and filmmaking at Interlochen Arts Academy, the University of Oregon, Moorpark College and the University of California’s Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts. Mentored by Norman Corwin and Ray Bradbury she wrote poetry and authored an unpublished biography of her father. She also holds a Master’s degree in Health Science and Health Education from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. After a nineteen year career with Group Health, she launched a fundraising consulting business and managed a successful campaign to build the Rotary Fountain in Spokane’s Riverfront Park. PJ has served many years in community leadership positions on boards for United Way, American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Leadership Spokane and Spokane Rotary Club 21. Presently at Inland Northwest Community Foundation, she resides with her husband George and cat Mr. Fluffy in Spokane, Washington.
PJ and Elisabeth are a mother and daughter writing team. The discovery of Lizzie’s letters led to this trilogy, The Courtship of Lizzie Andrews. Elisabeth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota and married
A. Albert Johnson in 1951. They were blessed with four daughters by 1959. An unfortunate accident took the life of Al in 1964. Elisabeth moved the girls to California, after earning a teaching credential at Wayne State University in Detroit and commenced a thirteen year career teaching art. For over 25 years she then pursued her business of creating stuffed animals and ceramic “Pot Pets”. Research for this trilogy has occupied much of her time in the past decade. An avid geocacher, genealogist and archer, she has earned over sixty gold medals in Senior Games. Named “Queen Elisabeth” for archery following the 2010 Huntsman World Senior Games, she now resides with her dog Koko in Washington, Utah.
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