Where The Road Bends
June 7th, 2022
Where the Road Bends by Rachel Fordham balances lighthearted moments with abuse and mistreatment. Redemption, second chances, betrayal, forgiveness, love, hope, and healing are present throughout the story.
The plot begins in this small Iowa town in the 1880s when Norah King finds a man unconscious and beaten badly. She nurses Quincy Barnes back to health. They form an easy friendship and confide in each other. She tells him her dreams and wonders if they really will come true. After Quincy promises her to make something of his life, he becomes determined to make a new start. Unfortunately, neither knows how Norah’s act of kindness will complicate her life and bring her misfortune.
Finding out that Norah is engaged to a man twenty years her senior, not for love, but because he can pay off her debts and save her ownership of the land, Quincy decides to leave. This is where Norah’s “road starts bending.” After telling her fiancé about Quincy he calls off the engagement and bad mouths her to the town.
Two years later, they have a reversal of fortune. Not able to pay her debts the bank forecloses on her land leaving her destitute. On the other hand, Quincy has made good on his promise and is a successful businessman in a new town, Longfield Iowa. Norah is now the beaten one and needs to be rescued by Quincy just as she rescued him two years earlier. As in the book, Persuasion by Jane Austin, both Norah and Quincy show their selflessness, inner strength, and goodness. In fact, there are references to this book throughout the story.
Another character readers will connect with is the eight-year-old boy Nels. Just as with Quincy’s early life he is penniless and living on the streets with no family. Not only does Norah and Quincy rescue each other, but they also rescue Nels, taking him in, teaching him, and supporting him both financially and emotionally.
Readers will be hooked from the first page. Throughout the book people are rooting that a family will be forged and created from friendship, as well as the characters able to overcome the hardships. This story will tug at everyone’s emotions, but it is also heartwarming to see how the towns people of Longfield came together, having each other’s backs.
Elise Cooper: Idea for the story?
Rachel Fordham: It started with my love of Les Misérables and that scene where someone’s life changes overnight and the consequences that follow. I decided to throw that idea into the 1880s Midwest, where one defining moment changes everybody’s path. It grew from there.
EC: What about the Jane Austen influence?
RF: The jumping point was Les Misérables, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to have a second chance love story. Jane Austen’s book Persuasion is a wonderful second chance love story. Instead of being influenced byPersuasion I wrote it into the book. The characters were influenced by this novel as they read the story, draw from it, and share it. They start to realize that if the Austen characters, Anne and Elliot deserve a happy ending maybe they do also. Just as with Austen’s characters, mine as well have misunderstandings. My characters, Norah and Quincy, see a lot of parallels as they discuss the novel.
EC: Why the 1880s?
RF: My debut book took place in the late 1880s. I stayed there with future novels because it is a period I fell in love with. It was a time of expansion, new thinking, and changes coming to society and technology.
EC: Did you ever live on a farm?
RF: I have never lived on a working farm but have lived on hobby farms. We have a couple of goats and chickens, so I understand the hard work that comes with animals.
EC: Why did you have Norah take in Quincy, a stranger?
RF: I would have done it also. Everybody needs a safe place. I am always grateful when I can do it for someone else. I always have a heart for people who are trying to find their place. We are foster parents. In the book, there is a child that has no home and is taken in by Quincy.
EC: How would you describe Norah?
RF: She has an optimistic spirit that even when things are going bad, she feels things will get better. There is a Norah before and after. Before she was dependent on Jake to ease her debt and Percy for a job. She needed them to rescue her. But with them she saw the harder part of life, which gave her strength. Just as with me there is a Rachel before and after. Before Norah was hopeful, witty, and kind. After Jake and Percy, she had emotional scars that have haunted and broke her. She became compassionate, strong, and stubborn. She grew so much in this
EC: How would you describe Quincy?
RF: He was always trying to get by in the beginning. Because of Norah he tries to make himself a better person. He is stubborn, headstrong, strong, athletic, protective, patient, and gentle. He is very soft with a big heart on the inside.
EC: How would you describe the relationship?
RF: Nobody was looking for a connection. Their lives just crossed. They did change each other. It was a gift for both. By the end it blossoms into something strong and deeply rooted. Each were desperate and fearful and needed the other to help them. Overall, they are open with each other, share secrets, and have a bond. The honesty comes from not expecting to be together.
EC: What is the role of baseball in the story?
RF: Quincy’s experience early in life with boxing gave off a negativity to athletics. He is a former boxer who fights for money in back alleys and lives recklessly. Since I love athletics, I wanted to show how sports is not bad and the other side. How it is healthy and fun. During the community event I decided to have them gather for a baseball game. During that time there was baseball fever.
EC: Does the child Nels mirror Quincy?
RF: Yes. Quincy was also someone not rescued until he met Norah. But with Nels the community intervenes with him and helps him earlier. Norah can get to know Quincy better through Nels’ eyes. Some of the similarities between Quincy and Nels are that both are determined, resilient, blunt, and brash. They say what they see.
EC: Is there a comparison between Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with The Wind and Norah?
RF: Scarlett and Norah both went through hard times so they cling to something that feels it will not go away. Land is one of those things that is easy to latch on to and was everything to them. What Norah experiences that Scarlett never does is that she realizes people are her savior, not the land. Norah was vulnerable to allow people to be her safe place. I don’t think Scarlett was ever vulnerable.
EC: Next book?
RF: It will take place in the 1920s in Buffalo New York. There is no title but should be out in the summer of 2023. The plot has two families divided by a deep feud. The children unknowingly have been writing anonymous letters to each other for years.