About the Book
Book: A Lady in Attendance
Author: Rachel Fordham
Genre: Christian Historical
Release date: June 1, 2021
Will the Past Destroy Her Future?
Ada, Mi.—Rachel Fordham’s historical novels have received high praise for their warm and engaging story lines filled with romance, adventure, and happy endings. In A Lady in Attendance, Fordham beautifully blends these same great features in a novel about overcoming obstacles in the past to make room for a better future.
After spending the last five years in a New York state reformatory, Hazel is desperate to begin life anew, but she knows that a tarnished name could ruin her chances. She accepts a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts’ lady in attendance but does so under an alias so she can hide her shameful past.
Dr. Watts has come to enjoy the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, but he senses her sadness and wonders if there is more to her story than she’s shared with him. As their friendship deepens, Hazel must grapple with her desire to trust him.
Can Dr. Watts and Hazel’s friends help expunge her record? And can Hazel possibly find hope and love along the way?
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About the Author
Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs, Yours Truly, Thomas, and A Life Once Dreamed. Fans expect stories with heart, and she delivers, diving deep into the human experience and tugging at reader emotions. She loves connecting with people, traveling to new places, and daydreaming about future projects that will have sigh-worthy endings and memorable characters. She is a busy mom, raising both biological and foster children (a cause she feels passionate about). She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.
More from Rachel
Ten behind the scenes extras from A Lady in Attendance:
- This book takes place in Amherst and Buffalo New York, places I lived for four years. Buffalo has had some rough years but if you ever visit the area you will see gorgeous old buildings, beautiful parks and cemeteries and understand why it was once a booming and prosperous city (and why I love it still). Gilbert and Hazel both grew up in the area (though, they did not know each other until the story begins). Two of my children were born in Buffalo and though they aren’t being raised there, I tell them stories.
- Hazel spent five years in a New York State reformatory. Reformatories were basically the first juvenile delinquent facilities (the ages of who could be sentenced there was different from today). Reformatories were a new idea. There were still a lot of people who believed in “bad blood” and that a criminal could never be anything but a criminal. There were some heroes who fought hard to convince the public, that people could change. Because of this book’s storyline, I could not go too deeply into this subject, but it is fascinating!
- Gilbert Watts is this book’s leading man. I gave up on being able to use the name Gilbert on one of my own kids and instead gave it to a character. I adore the name Gilbert and everything about this character, hope you do too!
- There is a joke at the end of the book about a graveyard (don’t worry, it’s not scary) and it’s a nod to my mom who used to use this joke on us every time we passed a cemetery. I really love sneaking in things into my stories that will make my kids, family and friends smile when they read it. I often think of my books as love letters from me to others and the best kind of love letters are personal.
- My husband is a dentist and as a result, we tend to notice dentist in media. They are often portrayed as villains or comic relief. I decided it would be my goal to write a romantic dentist that would change the image in readers minds.
- Gilbert tells Hazel that being a dentist is really being an artist. When my husband was first trying to decide on a career path, he shadowed a dentist. He didn’t really think it would be for him, but he was open to exploring options. He came home and told me that the cool thing about dentistry was that you were essentially making art that was functional, every day. Little sculptures that helped people eat and smile better. Gilbert from the book is very different from my husband, but it was fun sneaking in little pieces of him in there.
- One of my favorite scenes from this book take place at a corn husking. There is a tradition that says, if a red ear of corn is found, the finder gets a kiss. Sigh, I love that scene!
- Without always meaning to, my books end up having messages woven into them. I believe one of the messages in A Lady in Attendance is forgiveness. In this case, it’s forgiving of one’s self. I believe this message is one that we all need at some point in our lives (or many points!).
- My books are coming out in a different order than they were written in. I actually wrote this book before Yours Truly, Thomas and after A Life Once Dreamed. This story has been waiting a long time to be in print! During that time, it has been reshaped in little ways. It gained a prologue and lost an epilogue, it was tamed down in places and intensified in others, but the heart of it has always been the same!
- One last piece of A Lady in Attendance trivia—several of my books have had their titles changed. It’s part of the writing process. The books get a working title and later a title that the rest of the world knows it by. The Hope of Azure Springs was originally just Azure Springs. Yours Truly, Thomas was originally Dear, Azure Springs. A Life Once Dreamed was originally The Belle of Penance. A Lady in Attendance began as A Lady in Attendance and stayed A Lady in Attendance. Not only is this title fitting because dental assistants were knowns by this or as an attending lady, but also because Hazel wrestles with her worth. In a society that believes a mistake made once can leave a mark forever, it takes the right eyes and open heart to realize that there truly is a lady in attendance.
“Her sentence might always mar her record, but was there a way to escape the fear, to live free and honestly?”
Set primarily in Amherst, New York in 1898, A Lady in Attendance is the latest standalone novel by Rachel Fordham. I would say that it’s my favorite, but to my embarrassment, it’s the only one that I’ve had a chance to read so far, although her other three novels are on my to-read list, and I can definitely say that I’ve been missing out! A woman with a past, a mystery, a sweet romance or two…this story is both unique and familiar, and it is one that you will not want to put down until the last page is turned.
To begin with, the subject matter itself is intriguing. A Lady in Attendance being a foreign term to me, I learned something new right from the start; in 1885, ladies in attendance began to be employed in order for women to see dentists unaccompanied without the risk of tarnishing their reputations. Hazel Bradshaw, using the pseudonym McDowell due to her former criminal status, takes the only job she can find, as a lady in attendance to dentist Gilbert Watts, who quickly became my favorite character. His shy innocence and goodness endeared him to me, and I love how Fordham connects dentistry with art, which is an entirely new concept to me. Gilbert tells Hazel that “Every day I get to build dentures and bridges. Tiny sculptures that may never be appreciated, but I know they make life better and easier for the receiver…I consider myself quite blessed to use my hands to make such important art.” Finding such purpose in our work is an important aspect of using our skills to glorify God.
As the past continues to haunt Hazel, Fordham skillfully constructs a narrative that demonstrates the power of faith and forgiveness while establishing the truth that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Spending five years in a reformatory “had taught [Hazel] to persevere, to keep going when she wanted to quit, and above all else, to find solace in prayer.” Now, with the possibility of having an opportunity to set the record straight, Hazel realizes that hope may yet have a fighting chance. As Gilbert reminds her, “I told you once that I was a Christian man who believed it my duty to help. I even offered to help you if you were ever in need, and I see no reason to take that offer back. Either I am a man of my word or I am a fraud. I don’t believe any verse of Scripture says to help only those who are perfect when none of us are.” Forgiveness may not be as clear-cut, particularly when facing the past means confronting those who have been hurt the most and perhaps even some who set into motion the events of two long-ago fateful nights with echoing repercussions.
For anyone who enjoys a heartfelt redemption story, proving that “No one is unredeemable,” and for those who believe in the power of love and second chances, Rachel Fordham’s A Lady in Attendance is a match made in heaven!
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: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥
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Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 6
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Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 9
Connie’s History Classroom, July 10
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To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy of A Lady in Attendance as well as A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham, a signed bookplate, book swag, and a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Thank God we have a Savior who forgives and forgets our sinful past.
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