About the Book:
From the author of The Immigrant, another stimulating novel that will linger with you regardless of your faith or beliefs.
After enduring early parental deaths, Naamah Carter discovers renewed meaning to her strong Christian beliefs through Joseph Smith’s testaments. His following in Peterborough, New Hampshire flourishes, yet Naamah, her beloved Aunt Susan, and other believers suffer family strife and growing community resentment. She leaves her unfriendly situation and journeys to Nauvoo to be among thousands building their Prophet‘s revelation of an earthly Zion on a Mississippi River promontory. There, her faith is tested, enduring loss of loved ones and violence from those longing to destroy Nauvoo. With the western exodus imminent, she faces a decision that runs counter to her soul and all she holds sacred – whether to become Brigham Young’s plural wife.
This meticulously researched novel weaves the momentous events of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and Brigham Young’s succession with Naamah’s story and offers differing perspectives to create a mosaic of Nauvoo, the crucible out of which arose today’s Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints
30 May 1845
Naamah’s wedding date arrived, and with stomach fluttering, she walked with Amelia and Caroline. Her long-sleeved white dress swished about her ankles, an ordinary dress, except for three clamshell buttons centered from the neckline to her bosom. She toyed with one, wishing her aunt could attend. But she was recently married, and Naamah understood. She thought of Aunt Susan’s words as she stitched on the third button. “There, my special gift to you.”
They moved past the temple and down the rise to the flat land. Amelia sighed and said, “Such an almighty journey. Why?” She hastened to Naamah’s aside. “And who is Elder Bates?”
“It’s a surprise is all I know,” said Naamah.
At the intersection of Main and Kimball, John, a half block away, waved. Another man stood beside him, studying his watch. When he spotted Naamah, he closed the watch cover and slid it into his vest pocket. Naamah raised her dress and hastened.
John’s companion doffed his hat and said, “I’m Elder Bates. Welcome to my home.” Naamah gave a nod and abbreviated curtsey as Bates turned to John. “Escort the Sisters inside, and I’ll wait. Should be but a moment.”
John ushered Naamah up three steps and into a well-furnished parlor. Several familiar men were near the fireplace, except one with an arm on the mantle and away from the others. The women clustered near the six-foot high window.
Naamah gasped and placed a hand on her chest. “Mercy, such a wonder.”
Aunt Susan stepped out from the group. “You look lovely, dear.” She sniffed. “Your mother would be so happy.”
“I thought you couldn’t . . .” said Naamah. She turned to John. “Is this your surprise?”
John shrugged as Naamah turned back to Susan.
“I’ve been of ill health, but Brother Jolley helped me gather my strength.” Susanna pointed to the man leaning on the mantle. As Naamah dropped her hand from her chest, Susanna said, “The buttons are lovely. The clamshells’ purple add a touch of color. Purple, the color of advent.” Susanna shielded her mouth and whispered, “Advent proclaims good news. Perhaps some good news will soon come.”
Bates opened the door and allowed the man behind him to enter first. As he did, Naamah thought she would swoon. She spun to John and mouthed, “Elder Young.”
John nodded while trying to contain his smile.
A Sister entered after Brigham, carrying a basket. Brigham gestured to a table and said, “Place it there, Sister Partridge.”
Sister Partridge complied and moved to Naamah. She grasped her hand and pecked the side of her cheek. “A special day, isn’t it?” She gestured to the basket. “Teacakes from Mother Young. If you would be so kind, return the basket later.”
“I will, Sister Partridge.”
“You may call me Sister Emily.” Her smile was warm, genuine, and soothing to Naamah’s nerves.
As Emily moved near the door, Brigham took charge, moving John to Naamah’s right before opening his book. Naamah was fascinated at being so near Brigham. Whenever he looked at her to ask a question, she responded as best she could with a dry mouth and racing heart.
The questions ended, and Naamah and John were pronounced husband and wife. She turned to a chorus of amen and exhaled her relief while gazing at a teary-eyed Susanna. Naamah sensed she might cry, too, and turned back to Brigham. He stared, and Naamah moved her tongue to moisten her mouth. When he said, “Sister Twiss,” it seemed foreign at first. He placed his right hand on her head, and she grew faint at the touch
“Sister Twiss, my blessing for you,” he said. “May you live long and bring many into His kingdom.”
He released his hand to clutch her shoulders and pull her near. He kissed the top of her head and patted it before releasing his grip. He smiled, and Naamah’s knees grew weak.
Brigham nodded to Elder Bates and left with Sister Partridge following him. Aunt Susan and the sisters gathered around Naamah, gushing their congratulations. The Brethren clustered near John. While the two groups continued chatting, John and Naamah looked often to one another. The irony struck Naamah: she just had been married, yet she was with the sisterhood. John eventually drifted near. Naamah, anxious to leave, gave her aunt a prolonged hug and left with John. When he shut the door behind them, the parlor din ebbed.
Naamah sighed and said, “At last.”
The newlyweds walked hand in hand up Main toward Mulholland. Along the way, many congratulated them, and at one-point Naamah, with cheeks aglow, said to John, “Are we so obvious?”
About the Author:
Alfred Woollacott, III retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So, he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus, with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.
When not writing, Al serves on several Boards, and keeps physically active with golf, tennis, and hockey. He and his wife of 44 years, Jill, have four children and ten grandchildren.