Catherine Palmer lives in Missouri with her husband and sons. She is a graduate of Southwest Baptist University and has a master’s degree in English from Baylor University. Her first book was published in 1988. Since then she has published more than 20 novels. Catherine has won numerous awards for her writing, including Most Exotic Historical Romance Novel from Romantic Times magazine. Most recently she has been nominated for the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Total sales of her novels number more than 1 million copies.
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Catherine Palmer explores a great rift and even greater restoration in her new novel, WILD HEATHER
We human beings are a contentious lot. We become divided over the most minor details, and before we know it, we're left with cooled friendships, broken families, and splintered churches. We risk passing these offenses down to the next generation, and the next. Eventually nobody even remembers what the original disagreement was about . . . only that "our side" doesn't get along with "their side."
Feuds are as old as Genesis and as new as today's headlines. The Capulets and the Montagues, the Hatfields and the McCoys . . . no time or place in history has escaped its feuding factions.
In her new HeartQuest novel, WILD HEATHER (sequel to ENGLISH IVY), Catherine Palmer tells the tale of two noble families in Regency England who are nursing a centuries-old feud. The feud is rooted in an ancient boundary dispute concerning the placement of a hedgerow between their two properties, resulting in generations of bitterness and ill will between the two families.
When a situation arises in the local village church, threatening to divide the congregation, the heads of the two feuding families, as community leaders, are forced to interact to bring the church together. In the process they discover the parallels between the church feud and their own family feud. They have a responsibility to overcome their own differences to be a model for everyone else. And, of course --- in a Romeo-and-Juliet kind of way --- they find love.
Why did Catherine select a hedgerow as the symbol of the dissension between the two families?
Where peace and harmony are disrupted, sin evolves. Where sin evolves, generations of bitterness and hatred follow. But the grace of God can overcome all that. He can restore peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness to any situation. That's the message of WILD HEATHER, and it's a promise that we still cling to in our world today.
"As a child, I visited the British Isles with my family and fell in love with the hedgerows there," she explains. "One morning in Ireland, I took a walk and came across a hedgerow filled with millions of dewdrop-laced cobwebs. In the early morning light, the entire hedgerow shimmered like glittering lace. It was a breathtaking sight. Later I learned that hedgerows teem with animal life, such as butterflies, birds, toads, and hedgehogs --- an entire world in microcosm. I placed the image of the hedgerow at the center of WILD HEATHER: strong branches supporting all kinds of life, roots extending deep into the soil, withstanding centuries of storms and strife. Just like the church, when the church is doing what God intends."
And when the church does not operate as God intends?
"In the book, the hedgerow is in danger of being chopped down," says Catherine. "This thing that was planted to be a source of great beauty has become a source of bitterness instead."
"A major theme of the Scriptures is that we are to make peace with one another," she continues. "Sometimes we Christians miss that part. My family once found ourselves caught in the crossfire of a huge denominational battle that resulted in church splits and lawsuits. In some ways, writing WILD HEATHER was my way of working through the pain of that experience."
Why did Catherine choose to set the novel in Regency England?
"I'm a fan of the English writer Jane Austen," she explains. "I love Austen's books and writing style, particularly the 'comedy of manners'." In a typical English comedy of manners, characters are oblivious of world issues. They are only aware of their own small arena.
"They travel back and forth to one another's properties, having tea and discussing the local issues of the day," laughs Catherine. "It is a very small world, one in which tensions form that can disrupt peace and harmony."
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