About the Book
Author: Eleanor Bertin
Genre: Christian Contemporary
Release date: July, 2020
Perfectionistic librarian Jacqui Penn is ripped up by the roots when she’s dumped by her longtime boyfriend. She is drawn two thousand miles west across Canada to the last place she ever thought could offer stability—the old homestead where her father grew up.
Renovating the derelict house soon becomes a personal battle as it stubbornly resists her efforts. While Jacqui struggles to renew the home, she spends time with the family Pops bitterly resented. Her hunger for roots grows stronger as she fights to discover the long-buried reasons her father fled the house as a beleaguered teen. But will she ever find the belonging she craves?
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About the Author
Eleanor Bertin loves books, people, and the sweeping skies of the Canadian Prairies where she was raised.
She studied Communications in college and returned to writing after raising and home-educating a family of seven children. The author of Lifelines, Unbound, Tethered, and the memoir, Pall of Silence about her late son, Paul, she lives in central Alberta with her husband and youngest son where, much like Jacqui, they are coaxing to life a century home.
More from Eleanor
Long before Jacqui came to be, I had the title Tethered, drawn from the first book in the Ties that Bind series, Lifelines. I was taken by the rope imagery that played so well into biblical themes of God drawing people to Himself. The second book, Unbound, deals with the way cables of guilt and fear can keep us in bondage to legalism.
But ropes have positive uses too. Tethered explores how ties of family and home provide the roots and grounding we all crave. Through each of the books, we see Anna, a widow of deep trust in God. She may seem insignificant, but her influence is powerful. Through her Jacqui, who’s been raised by Anna’s bitter brother, finds the foundation on which her family history is built, and makes it her own.
One of my favourite scenes in Tethered is where Anna teaches Jacqui to bake pie. It’s a piece lifted from my own life. My mother, now 94, was renowned for her pies, which she often gave to the bereaved or struggling. Like Anna, she generously taught her techniques and tips to the women of our family who carry on the tradition.
Here’s where Mom’s tips make all the difference. We don’t freeze whole pies. Instead, we freeze pie crusts already rolled out to size, layered between parchment paper, or better still, the plastic liners from cereal packaging cut to size. (Mom was “green” long before it was fashionable.) Making a batch of skins ahead of time saves space in the freezer compared to fully assembled pies, yields a fresher result when baked, and saves so much time. Whenever you want a pie, pull out a couple of the prepared crusts. While they quickly thaw, prepare your pie filling, assemble, and bake! Even our menfolk have been able to proudly say they baked a pie themselves.
Here is the recipe we use:
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
In mixer, mix dry ingredients together. Then, a half cup at a time, cut in (with wire whips):
1 lb. lard (vegetable shortening will not give the desired flakiness)
Cut into flour mixture until crumbled to the size of peas. Do not overmix!
In a 2-cup measuring cup, beat:
2 eggs until frothy
Add: 2 Tablespoons vinegar
Add enough cold water to the liquid to make 1 cup. Then add to flour/lard mixture.
Using dough hooks, mix gently just until dough forms and will hold together. Again, do not overmix.
Divide dough into six or seven balls.
On each floured piece of cereal box plastic, roll out pastry from the center outward to just over 1/8-inch thickness. Keep flouring the rolling pin to prevent sticking.
Cut the crust to size of pie plate with ½ inch extra all around. Re-roll the scraps into the next ball of dough.
Freeze skins in a plastic pie keeper or even in a zippered plastic bag on a flat surface.
Bake pie on bottom rack of oven, 450F for 15 minutes, then 375F until golden brown (another 10-15 minutes). No pale, anemic pies for us!
When/how did you decide to become a writer?
My older sister praised a brief story I wrote when I was eight. She was impressed with the line, “Mother’s voice trailed away.” Rank plagiarism! However, throughout school, I did well in English and various teachers encouraged me to continue writing though I was set on other careers like pediatrician, real estate tycoon, and fashion designer. Ha! By high school graduation, reality struck, and I recognized my natural bent – which definitely was not medicine! I went on to study Communications in college.
After spending a year and a half as a reporter for a farm weekly newspaper, I settled into a long, rewarding vocation as a wife, and homeschooling mother of seven children. But the nest has a way of emptying, despite filling it so full. At fifty, I wondered what to do with my newfound time and freedom. Out of the bucket list I compiled, “write a book” seemed the least expensive and most possible. My first novel took four years to write and another two to publish, but the best advice I ever received was to keep at it faithfully, even if only a few words a day, and walk through every door of opportunity that presents itself.
Which one of your characters speaks most to your heart? Why?
My first novel, Lifelines, centers on a character named Anna Fawcett, a 60-something widow with an adult son, Jesse, who has Down syndrome. Patterned after my own 94-year-old mom, she reappears in each of the Ties That Bind novels (Unbound, and Tethered). Like Mom, Anna is a selfless mentor, a devoted mother, sister, and friend, and a sort of Christ-figure in her sacrificial, faithful love of her Lord. When I grow up, I want to be just like her. My mother would laugh to know I’ve written a Christmas anthology short story in which she receives a marriage proposal and accepts.
And of course, her son Jesse is special to me, too. My youngest son, Timothy, 25, has Down syndrome and still lives with my husband and me. Only after I had written the trilogy did it occur to me that each of the novels features an individual with special needs: Jesse in Lifelines, Carol, a severely brain-injured woman in Unbound, and Lewis, a teenage boy with autism in Tethered. Having a disabled son myself has opened my eyes to a whole world of interesting and God-beloved people who deserve notice, both them and the caregivers who devote themselves to them.
Do you ever hide things in your stories for readers to find?
What an interesting question! I haven’t consciously hidden things in my stories, but a funny thing has happened with readers’ responses to my books. I’ve been asked for sequels about some of the most minor characters – even a dog! I suspect this is because in real life, I love people and in writing, I abhor flat characters. After all, even the hair stylist, caterer, or banker has an essential inner life uniquely their own. So, when I mention them in my books, I give enough quirky detail to reflect their value and humanity. Which backfires on me as a writer, because readers seem to want more of what I had no intention of giving. Sigh.
What are your hobbies?
If a hobby is something that’s enjoyable and costs, rather than earns us money, I could certainly say writing. But although I find it so satisfying, it’s also hard work at times. The things that most often distract me from writing are home décor (you’ll find references to it sprinkled throughout my books), flower gardening, and sewing (especially quilts). If the Lord gives me time, I also have a hankering to try oil painting, learning Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, and taking up the cello again. There should probably be something on this list pertaining to physical fitness, but you asked about hobbies, not personal tortures.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse, or is there a particular Bible story that really resonates with you?
I have always felt subpar in Christian circles because I could never pinpoint a favourite Bible verse or story. The reason must be that whatever book or passage I’m studying or memorizing at any given time is my favourite. Scripture is so rich and deep that it wows me no matter where I dig into it. So currently, my “favourite” is the book of Romans which is taking me forevah to memorize. I began in mid-April, 2021, and I’m still not quite half through, yet every day it speaks to my heart.
Texas Book-aholic, September 21
deb’s Book Review, September 22
Inklings and notions, September 23
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 24
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 25
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 26
lakesidelivingsite, September 27
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 28
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 29
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 30
Guild Master, October 1 (Author Interview)
Rebecca Tews, October 1
For Him and My Family, October 2
For the Love of Literature, October 3 (Author Interview)
Holly’s Book Corner, October 3
Pause for Tales, October 4
To celebrate her tour, Eleanor is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.