I am beyond excited to welcome Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters, to Peeking Between the Pages today. Not only is Rebecca an amazing author but she is also one of the friendliest and sweetest ladies I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know in a long time and I’m pleased to call her a friend. Her debut novel The Bird Sisters released on April 12/11 and it is such a beautiful novel (my review). You always know you’ve read a wonderful book when it is still slipping in and out of your memory and you wish you were back within it’s pages. Today Rebecca is going to share with us The Story of The Bird Sisters…
The story of The Bird Sisters belongs to my grandmother Kathryn.
Until I was a young woman, I knew very little about her even though I’d spent a great deal of time with her and had even lived with her at one point. I knew that her father was an extremely talented golfer and her mother was lovely and dark, and that my grandmother thought I looked a little like her. I knew that my grandmother tromped through fields and streams when she was a girl, ruining whatever dress her mother had ironed for her, and that she fell asleep midway through television shows with salt crackers on her lap when she was old. I knew that she lost both of her parents when she was a teenager and that she never quite recovered from that loss. But it wasn’t until after my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, went through the treatments, and went into remission that I got to know her better.
In 2000, she and my mother moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, where I was living at the time, waiting out those last precious months before I went to graduate school. My mother worked a lot. My grandmother and I didn’t. Every morning, we’d go to breakfast together in Old Town, and it was over our first cups of mountain coffee that questions about her history started filtering into my mind and answers started flowing from her lips. She ended up telling me the story of her parents, their heartbreaks and their joys, as though I were a friend instead of her granddaughter. And then one day she showed me a picture of them at a county fair when they were very young. My great-grandfather Bert and my great-grandmother Tracy were standing under a cardboard moon, looking at each other with a kind of uncontained love that was rare for photographs of that time. I kept measuring their expressions against the story my grandmother had told me. I kept wondering: where did that love go?
A few months later, I went off to graduate school. A month after that, my grandmother fell down in a parking lot and discovered, after many painful tests, that she had a brain tumor. After she passed away that fall, my mother sent me her journals, which we never knew she’d kept. I read them and what I found was indeed heartbreaking, but also something else I couldn’t put a name to.
“This year I’d like to forget Christmas,” she wrote in one entry. “I’d like to throw off all the old yokes and start something entirely new.”
I wasn’t truly hooked until I read this one, a list, which was so sweet and true:
“Things I’ve Always Liked, by Kathryn Sturm –” which began with “the scent of cotton drying in the sun, mud on my feet, honeysuckle twirling up porch railings, my mother,” and ended with “the crinkle of newspaper, the slam of a screen door!”
What struck me most about her list was that she wrote it when she was 72.
Once I found my way out of missing her terribly and into wanting to honor her (eight years, a husband, and a baby later), the first draft of The Bird Sisters took me about seven months to write.
But, oh, the revisions that followed! The heartbreaks. The joys.
Thank you so much for this beautiful and heartfelt guest post Rebecca! It’s wonderful that you have such special memories of your grandmother. I’m positive she would have loved your novel!
About the Book (from Rebecca’s website)
When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds’ heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can’t, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who’ve brought them. The two sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.
But back in the summer of 1947, they knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn’t change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn’t exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly’s eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever.
I just love the Book Trailer…
About the Author (from Rebecca’s website)
I live in St. Louis, Missouri with my husband and daughter, where I teach writing and literature at Fontbonne University. In addition to writing, I’m reading some wonderful nonfiction books these days (My Life in France by Julia Child is my favorite of the bunch!) and I’m training for a half-marathon this fall. I also love to bake pies. Raspberry. Blueberry. Peach. Yum. This is only miraculous because I essentially grew up in a microwave. Because of this, I am interested in all things old and outdated. I love to think about hope chests and house dresses. Sideboards are big ones, too. At the end of the day, though, when it’s 105 outside in St. Louis, I’m pretty thankful for my thermal windows and air conditioning. Still…I’m always on the brink of trying to put up jam like my great grandmother used to do.
Find Rebecca on…
I have 2 copies of The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen to share with you! To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with an email address to contact you should you win.
- For 2 entries follow my blog. If you already do, thank you, and please let me know in your comment so I can pass the extra entry on to you.
- For 3 entries blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word!
This giveaway will be open to US & Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will be drawing for the winners on Saturday, May 14/11. Good luck to you all!
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