Marion Hatley: A Novel
About the book: In February of 1931, Marion Hatley steps off a train and into the small town of Cooper’s Ford, hoping she’s left her big-city problems behind. She plans to trade the bustling hubbub of a Pittsburgh lingerie shop for the orderly life of a village schoolteacher. More significantly, she believes she’ll be trading her reputation-tainting affair with a married man for the dutiful quiet of tending to her sick aunt. Underpinning her hopes for Cooper’s Ford is Marion’s dream of bringing the daily, private trials of all corset-wearing women—especially working women—to an end, and a beautiful one at that.
Instead, she confronts new challenges: a mysteriously troubled student; frustrations in attempts to create a truly comfortable corset; and, most daunting, her ailing aunt. Once a virtual stranger to Marion, her aunt holds the key to old secrets whose revelation could change the way Marion sees her family and herself.
As her problems from Pittsburgh threaten to resurface in Cooper’s Ford, Marion finds herself racing against time to learn the truth behind these secrets and to get to the bottom of her student’s troubles. Meanwhile, Marion forms a bond with a local war veteran. But her past, and his, may be too much to sustain a second chance at happiness.
Praise for the book:
“Like Marion Hatley’s own creations, Beth Castrodale’s debut novel is sewn, sentence by elegant sentence, with exquisite care and beauty. With clear-eyed assurance it explores the burden of secrets, the virtue of perseverance, and the joys of renewal. As a portrait of a community—and life itself—it is deeply compassionate and utterly wondrous.”
—David Rowell, author of The Train of Small Mercies
“A reflective, compassionate, and gracefully written tale.”
“A beautiful story, beautifully told. Marion Hatley’s skills at creating women’s underthings designed to free them from the constrictures of the past are emblematic of the freedom she ultimately achieves.”
—Lee Jacobus, author of Hawaiian Tales, Crown Island, and The Romantic Soul of Emma Now
“An evocative portrait of a woman both sinned against and sinning.”
—Paula Bomer, author of Inside Madeleine
“Marion Hatley reminds us of women’s struggle to escape society’s corseting and pursue opportunities we take for granted today.”
—Nan Cuba, author of Body and Bread
“An expert and articulate historical novel. The period details, class protest, and feminist protest are particularly engaging, as is the central character, Marion, whose resourcefulness recalls that of Zola’s Denise Badu in The Ladies’ Paradise. In Marion’s case, her redesign of conventional corsets speaks to humanizing social constrictions for women as well as easing physical ones.”
—DeWitt Henry, founding editor of Ploughshares, Emerson Professor Emeritus, and author of The Marriage of Anna Maye Potts
“Through her own trials and the trials of others she grows close to, Marion Hatley finds the heart within human frailty. . . . A thoroughly rewarding read.”
—Gilmore Tamny, author of My Days with Millicent
“Marion Hatley is as smooth to step into as the Whisper Lifts that Marion sews for her customers. The plot flows like silk, supporting her search for identity, honor, and love.”
—Audrey Schulman, author of The Cage, Swimming with Jonah, A House Named Brazil, and Three Weeks in December
“Castrodale offers profound insights into the characters who populate a Depression-era town—from women struggling for personal and financial independence to a soldier who has returned in body but not in spirit from World War I.”
—Grace Talusan, essayist and fiction writer
Gold River: A Novel
(For a limited time, available for free)
About the book: In the summer of her seventeenth year, Kit Mabek visits the site of a legendary healing river. Her mission: to find out what happened to her desperately ill mother, Ava, who vanished during Kit’s infancy. New clues suggest that Ava was drawn to the river, in search of a cure.
Kit soon becomes entangled in the history of the riverside town, where she’s first seen as the ghost of Helen Wheeler, a young woman killed there years before. With the help of an old friend of Helen’s who is still haunted by her loss, Kit begins to unravel the mystery behind her mother’s disappearance. Ultimately, she discovers unsettling powers that connect her to the town’s “original water healer,” the leader of a controversial nineteenth-century commune founded at Gold River.
Praise for the book:
“Gold River shines like the gold it is from the first page. The story will hook you, and the writing shimmers.”
—Audrey Schulman, author of The Cage, Swimming with Jonah, and Three Weeks in December
In This Ground: A Novel
(Publication details to come)
About the book: Closing in on fifty, Ben Dirjery fears his best days may be behind him. An early, all-but-forgotten member of an influential indie-rock band, he’s long since traded life on the road for what he’d hoped would be a more settled existence—as a decent husband and father and as a second-generation manager of Bolster Hill Cemetery. Instead, Ben finds himself making the same mistakes his philandering father did, leaving him divorced and at loose ends, and still haunted by the tragic death of his former band’s lead singer, who is buried, literally, under Ben’s feet.
These aren’t Ben’s only troubles. He’s faced with a court-ordered exhumation of a renowned nineteenth-century eccentric, which has protesters rallying at the cemetery’s gates; resistance to his ongoing advocacy for green burials, which he hopes can be offered in time for a dear, dying friend; and pestering from a recently hired gravedigger and open-mic singer, who wants Ben to back him on guitar.
Meanwhile, Ben’s teenage daughter, Cole, discovers his band’s music and begins uncovering truths he had tried to forget. With Cole’s help, Ben finds ways to reconnect with music and to confront, once and for all, his guilt over his former bandmate’s death.
In This Ground tells the story of how Ben learns to reconcile his present life with the one he left behind. It is a novel about community, family, and redemption, and about how hard it can be to truly bury one’s past.