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Better Days Ahead
BETTER DAYS AHEAD
English Mill Press, March 2006
It is America in the 1950s. Four different families play out their individual lives in different parts of the country. Sarah Robbins, a nightclub singer from Ohio and single mother, is forced to take a long, hard look at herself and what she has done to her son Billy. Neil Dvorak, a cabinetmaker from Michigan, clings to the ideal of "family" and hopes for redemption through the birth of daughter, Victoria. In Alabama, Dolores Drake, a mother of three, battles a drunken and abusive husband as well as horrifying racism. Even the wealthy and privileged Strattons, in California, are not immune from loss and tragedy.
Circumstances compel three of the families to head West to California in search of a fresh start for their children. No one can predict the high-stakes drama and devastating results that ensue when their lives intersect. This tale, the first in a trilogy, follows the families as they struggle with their lives, loves, and longings. It is ultimately a story of possibilities and hope...of BETTER DAYS AHEAD.
Excerpt From BETTER DAYS AHEAD
Sarah nursed the beverage and unconsciously massaged her stomach. Even after the numbing effects of one-hundred-proof rum, her abdomen continued its incessant, dull throbbing. She concluded that the pain was from a bout of indigestion she encountered earlier in the day. Nothing too serious. Just a few cramps now and then, which she remedied with her personal concoction of bromine and antacids. It was the cure-all that kept her attendance at the club, so far, a perfect one. No, for Sarah to forego Manny’s lime and cola cocktails, her head would have to be buried deep in a commode. Nothing less would keep her at home.
Sarah closed her eyes and remembered back to the days when she took ill as a child. Aunt Gertrude, her sole guardian, would tend to her every need with comforting luxuries like a hot-water bottle and homemade chicken-noodle soup. As for enriching Sarah’s soul, Aunt Gertrude took full advantage on those days when Sarah was bedridden. Sitting just a few feet away in the corner rocking chair, she would read the Scriptures to Sarah from a German Bible. In other words, she cared for her niece body and soul.
Sarah longed for her aunt who had raised her since she was two years old. That was Sarah’s age when her parents and four siblings perished in a household fire started by a smoldering ember gone awry. Aunt Gertrude, who had just come to America from Germany, pulled Sarah from her burning bed and carried her outside to safety. It was a mere ten seconds later when the entire house was engulfed in flames, leaving Sarah in the care of her aunt, who didn’t understand one word of English. But now Aunt Gertrude was also dead, leaving Sarah nothing but memories.
“We go to church now, child,” Aunt Gertrude would shout in German. She was staunch and overpowering Lutheran and put the God-fearing way into Sarah. That was the way she remained until nineteen thirty-six when Sarah was ten years old. Overnight her aunt had softened her tone almost to a whisper. Talk of Hitler’s conquests in Europe was running rampant in the States, and Aunt Gertrude did not want to draw attention to herself. So she kept a low profile, even among her fellow Lutheran churchgoers, who had known for some time that she was a foreigner. However, there was one parishioner with whom she had formed a strong bond. The newly appointed Judge Henry Kinslow had taken a special liking to Gertrude and her niece. Every week after church he would leave his own family to spend the afternoon with Gertrude and chat with her in their native tongue. The judge, although born and raised in America was also of pure German descent, yet he never divulged his heritage to anyone else, fearing that his personal convictions could interfere with his public ambitions. So he shared his ideals and opinions with the only person he could trust—Gertrude Weiss.
Charlie Valentine BioCharlie Valentine
was born and raised in Southern California but now lives in Washington State with her husband Roger and Kokomo, a 14-year-old Japanese Chin. Before becoming a writer, Charlie had diverse careers ranging from business service manager and technical support manager for a national telecommunications company to owner of a travel agency specializing in luxury cruises. Writing was a hobby that became an avocation "when the characters took on a life of their own." Currently, Charlie is working on the second novel in the trilogy.
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Better Days Ahead
, Charlie Valentine
English Mill Press, March 2006
The preceding excerpt was taken from the book Better Days Ahead
complete approval by the author Charlie Valentine and/or the publisher English Mill Press. This
information may not be re-used or redistributed in any manner.
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