cover image The Memory Weaver

The Memory Weaver

Jane Kirkpatrick. Revell, $14.99 paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-8007-2232-6

Kirkpatrick (A Sweetness to the Soul) fictionalizes events surrounding the Whitman Massacre of 1847 in the Oregon territory through the voices of Eliza Spalding Warren and her mother Eliza Hart Spalding, wife of missionary Henry Spalding. The younger Eliza, at 10 years old, was among hostages held by members of the Cayuse Indian tribe—captured after a Cayuse raid on Marcus Whitman’s Waiilatpu mission. Told through journal entries, the mother’s story vividly depicts an arduous life on the western frontier. While Kirkpatrick briefly describes the brutalities of the murders and subsequent standoff, the story is primarily about the personal relationships. Pushed by her father’s demands, Eliza marries a man with his own dark past and gives birth to her first child before turning 19. The men here all have strong character flaws; the women, on the other hand, are stalwart and wise, and Kirkpatrick brings their abilities to the forefront of the story. Kirkpatrick provides empathetic characters and historical elements that ring with accuracy. This is a fine interpretation of a little-known group of pioneering Christians. Agent: Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary Agency (Sept.)