Janet R Stafford



The series follows a woman of faith, her free-thinking husband, and their diverse family in the confusing and challenging world of mid-nineteenth century America.


My central character is Maggie Blaine Smith, a woman who ran a boarding house and struggles to remain faithful to her call to love others as she loves herself. 

Maggie is surrounded by a loving and supportive family.  Her husband is the free-thinking abolitionist newspaperman Eli Smith. Her focused and career-minded oldest daughter Lydia wants to become a doctor; and her feisty, spiritual youngest daughter Frankie wants to study theology. Maggie's best friends are Nate and Emily Johnson -- African-Americans -- and this raises a few eyebrows . Lucky the town doesn't know that Emily, Nate, Maggie and Eli run a station on the Underground Railroad.

The others in her boarding house include the once-famous, now failed writer Chester Carson; James O'Reilly an indigent old Irishman whom everyone calls Grandpa; struggling young lawyer Edgar Lape; and Patrick McCoy an undertaker's apprentice.

As Maggie puts it, "We are all sizes, we are of varying opinions, our skins are of different colors, we have different callings, and we like and dislike different things.  But we are a family nonetheless.  Together we have hope and faith and love and give each other strength.  We stand together."

The other characters run the gamut from a no-nonsense sheriff, Maggie's upper-crust brother, a Frenchwoman who runs the dry goods store, and Eli's earnest Quaker sisters, to a dour, rather terrifying church lady called Tryphena Moore.




For a change from historical fiction, this is a contemporary romantic comedy set in New Jersey. Lindsay Mitchell, an assistant minister at the Church of the Epiphany, has turned forty - and it is turning her world upside down. Her work at Epiphany has become a bit predictable and she wonders if she isn't being called to a new ministry. Lins, as everyone calls her, also finds herself thinking about her old college rock band. “I just want to rock one more time before I die!" she blurts to her friends Patti and Sue. Patti has a suggestion designed to break Lins out of her funk: come stay at her shore house in Point Pleasant Beach. On their first night in town, they find themselves singing Karaoke at a dive called the Flying Fish Club. It's there that Lins meets Neil Gardner, front man for the Grim Reapers, and Neil likes her voice. This could be the start of something interesting, except Neil is an agnostic who lives in an efficiency apartment over the music store where he works. Nothing is ever simple, is it?

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