A Letter From Lancaster County — Why Write about Sisters?
Sibling relationships fascinate me. Especially stories about women, no doubt because I am one and I have an older sister. She and I are as different from each other as Angela and Rose. We don’t look like each other either. Nothing autobiographical about this novel.
Single Rose and unhappily married Angela were strangers to me until they showed up in the recesses in the back of my mind, but I know them intimately now. Both Rose and Angela have some of my character traits. But that’s nothing new. I see a smidgeon of myself in all my characters, male and female, young and elderly.
It was older sister Angela’s idea that they respond to their Mennonite aunt’s invitation to visit fabulous Lancaster County, PA, with hopes of healing her relationship with Rose. Older sisters can be bossy know-it-alls, and younger sisters have their own long list of faults. Although I am the author, these two sisters navigated my novel’s ship. Or was it Aunt Silvia, who invited them to visit Lancaster County in the first place?
I was surprised when Angela and Rose stumbled upon some mind-boggling family secrets and met an attractive man, but I admit I stirred their pot until it threatened to boil over. And I asked the question: will these two sisters ever forgive each other? Not to mention their deceased mother for her outrageous secret.
A Letter from Lancaster County is much more than a story of two sisters—their aspirations, disappointments, and secrets. I adore my other characters too, even the snarly ones. Strangely, I sometimes prefer my male characters the most. I can’t wait for you to meet Glenn Yoder and his Amish father. Not that they’re perfect. As in real life, my characters have flaws aplenty. What a boring story if they didn’t!
I will be curious to find out which sister you like best, because even I can’t decide. Both changed and matured. Perhaps their Aunt Silvia will be your favorite character. Or perhaps another character. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. I’m dying to introduce you to them!
How would you respond to this invitation from your deceased mother’s estranged sister?
Silvia Donato’s hand shook as she put her pen’s tip to the stationery. She hesitated, but then prodded herself no matter how much her fingers ached. This was her last chance to repair much of what had gone wrong. Before it was too late.
Dearest Angela and Rose,
Please visit me. This invitation may sound crazy. After so many years, I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t care less about your aunt. But I’m getting older, and how I regret not asking you sooner, as well as the tension between your mother and me that separated us for so long.
How can I entice you to travel clear across the country? For one thing, I still live in your grandparents’ house where your mother grew up. You might wish to take a memento home with you. Anything you like. Lancaster County is truly magnificent. To my way of thinking, autumn is its finest season.
Read the first chapter of A Letter from Lancaster County here.
Kate Lloyd is a bestselling novelist whose books include A Portrait of Marguerite and the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy. A native of Baltimore, she enjoys spending time with friends and family in rural Pennsylvania and is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. She now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband.
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