After I published Divided Loyalties, several readers asked if I was going to write a sequel. Since the book ends with an epilogue that continues Maureen’s story on a train to Colorado, it seemed like a good idea. I considered it for a while.
Maureen’s story already had a happy ending so I decided to leave her on that train. Much as I would love to write about Ernestine, I don’t feel I am well enough equipped to follow her story. I loved her tough, resilient, frank view of the world. I miss her more than I miss Maureen and Patrick.
In the end, I decided to take a second look at two other characters in the book, Angela and Patricia. These two battlefield nurses are named for my mother Patricia and my mother-in-law Angela. They are both widows by the time the Civil War breaks out. They are daughters of a physician, and Angela has also been a physician’s wife.
But who were they really? In an effort to learn more about them, I went back in time to about 1830 where they were young women, about Maureen’s age, living with their widowed mother in Annapolis.
I wanted to tell both their stories. I wanted to explore what led them to the path to Antietam. I wanted, most of all, to tell the story of how they found love.
I also wanted to portray them as very different from one another: one a girl in love with the feelings of love, the other a practical young woman who tries to keep her emotions in check.
Since there are young men involved, I naturally had to name them for my dad, William, and my father-in-law, Gordon.
These are not the true love stories of Patricia and William and Angela and Gordon. Not at all. These are flights of fancy, inspired by my idol Jane Austen, but dreamed up by me.
I retell their stories a la Sense and Sensibility, my favorite Austen novel. And like Elinor and Marianne, Patsy sees love as something burning inside her while her more practical sister Angela considers love as more of an action word.
My still unnamed novella is set at Christmas. My plan is to release it, along with a second edition of Divided Loyalties, in time for the holidays. By then, surely, I will have an appropriate title.
I hope my story will make you wonder: Do you express love through your emotions? Or your actions?