About the Book
Book: The Year the Stars Fell
Author: Elizabeth Wehman
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release Date: April 14, 2020
In the spring of 1833, newlywed Betsey Baker-Swain’s simple life changes when she and her husband, Aaron, make a hasty decision to join Betsey’s family on a move from Pennsylvania to Michigan Territory.
Along the way, rainstorms, freezing temperatures, seasickness, and lack of privacy pale in comparison to what the family will encounter once arriving at their destination. Soon, daily trials will include ear-piercing howls of wild wolves, bad weather, clouds of mosquitoes, and disturbing situations with the natives. Even then, Betsey wonders if this trip will finally quench her father’s adventurous spirit.
Over the next year, the Baker family will gain incredible strength, divine trust, and unexplainable courage, but will it be enough to keep them at the tiny cabin by the twisting Shiawassee River? Will uncertainty overtake their determination or will God’s intervention sustain them enough to become a part of the history of a new land?
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About the Author
Elizabeth Wehman’s writing career spans over thirty years and encompasses curriculum, periodical, journalism, and novel writing.
Her dream has always been to write novels and Elizabeth launched her first contemporary fiction, Under the Windowsill, in 2014. Since then, she’s added four titles to her shelf. They include: Promise at Daybreak, Just a Train Ride, Mere Reflection, and her latest complete historical work, The Year the Stars Fell.
She found the historical genre to be filled with rabbit trail research as well as walks through bygone cemeteries. The pioneers, of the early nineteenth century, reflected an amazing stamina and a determined courage to venture into the unknown. The Year the Stars Fell is based on a forgotten village established in the Territory of Michigan in 1833. She fell in love with the Baker family and the information she discovered about them gave way to folklore and tales of the early homesteaders. Two future novels are planned that will include the continuation of the nineteenth century farming community. The series will be called, ‘The Newburg Chronicles’.
In her spare time, Elizabeth loves to read and enjoys being out in nature. Her favorite places are digging in her flower garden, listening to the birds as they herald a new day, or taking a walk on the country roads surrounding her home in Michigan.
Elizabeth has been a trucker’s wife for over thirty years which helps supply the needed solitude to produce extraordinary stories. She has three grown children, four grandpuppies, and two sons-in-law.
More from Elizabeth
My “Stars” book began to emerge after doing research about the county where I live, here in Michigan. On an information discovery about another book, I came across the story of the Baker family. They were highlighted as the one of the first farming families to enter Michigan Territory in 1833. Hosea Baker brought his entire family from Pennsylvania to settle on 600 acres in an area beside the Shiawassee River.
Joining him there were his wife, Sally, his grown son Ambrose, his daughter and her husband, Betsey and Aaron Swain, and some younger daughters. While there, they hooked up with a boy named Alexander Stevens. Their first year included: building a home and barn, clearing and planting the first crops in the county, setting up a household, and Betsey giving birth to the first recorded child in the county. Betsey and Aaron named their new baby, Julia.
So much intrigued me about their story. I was excited to flesh it out with the help of short excerpts written in a Shiawassee County history book from 1888. From these short tidbits about the family, I soon embellished a story which is a mere glimpse into what their story could have included during their first year as settlers in a vast wilderness.
Much of the story is from my own imagination, but many of the highlights include the excerpts written about the family in 1888. After writing their story, I now feel a specific kinship to them. This is my first complete historical fiction work. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
If there is a historical fiction book that can make the challenges and woes of 2020 seem a matter of course, it is Elizabeth Wehman’s The Year the Stars Fell. It is always a wonder to me to consider how the early settlers overcame the innumerable obstacles to survival. A lifelong devotee of the American frontier era, I never tire of reading about it, and while I tend to live simply, I still find myself amazed at the sacrifice and travail of the pioneers.
As quaint and peaceful as the lives of America’s settlers seem from the comfortable distance of history, in reality the truth is much more complicated. So much of what we take for granted was nonexistent for those living on the frontier, including something as simple as neighbors. As is the case when the Bakers first arrive in the Michigan Territory, they are unable to effectively communicate with the Chippewa tribes who already live there, resulting in fear. Wehman depicts the conflict caused by both the Cass land agreement and the government’s offer of inexpensive land in what is now Michigan state. Little Alexander is in some ways a product of this discord. As in most cases, it is those who are familiar with the other side who learn how to negotiate and coexist.
Some of the hardships mentioned in The Year the Stars Fell are not ones that ever came to the forefront of my mind before but are actually still prevalent in various forms today. This novel highlights the constant need to work almost around-the-clock just in order to survive, often without the help of nearby neighbors. I also realized the irony of spouses, despite living and working together, not having enough quality time with each other due to the long working hours and the close quarters of families. However, resiliency and faith in God turn tragedy into triumph if we learn to trust Him and rest in Him. In this regard, I always enjoyed Hosea Baker’s natural affinity for spouting Scripture in every circumstance, and his younger daughter’s nearly constant hymn singing. Wehman has written her protagonist, Betsey Baker-Swain, as a young woman who faces a plethora of trials and encounters that contribute to her fearful state, to which we can all relate in some way. Betsey gradually comes to realize that “She couldn’t concentrate on her fears. It would drive her crazy. She needed to cling to hope. To life.” Thankfully, we don’t have to live in fear either because God takes good care of His children and provides for every need: “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure (Psalm 147: 4-5).
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥
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To celebrate her tour, Elizabeth is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Year the Stars Fell and a $25 gift card to Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, which can be used online!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.