This week, it was release day for my latest historical novel (my sixth book-baby!), set in my little corner of Wisconsin. I wrote from some experience with this book, about a couple of topics, Alzheimer’s and depression, that have touched my life and those of my family.
My books always contain some personal element to the stories, but in Under the Weeping Willow—in which both Alzheimer’s and depression play a significant role—I wrote from a place of the most experience.
My dad passed away of Alzheimer’s in 2010, and much of my character, Robin’s, symptoms of the disease was patterned after my dad’s. I accelerated Robin’s involvement with the disease to fit the story timeline, but my dad struggled with it for about ten years, seven of which were spent in a nursing facility.
He kept his music almost until the very end. Although, he’d often play the same tune on his harmonica over and over again. It gladdened my heart to see him retain that bit of memory. When Dad no longer spoke, he could still smile. I prayed that somewhere in his heart of hearts he would remember that he wasn’t alone, and that Jesus was always with him and that no matter how much he forgot, the Lord would never forget him.
One of the greatest tests of my faith was watching him succumb to the ravages of Alzheimer’s—the most prominent being his memory loss. When he didn’t recognize me, my heart broke. The main question I wrestled with: How could God allow a man who had followed Him most of his life be reduced to this, separated from himself and everyone he knew? My question has never fully been answered and likely won’t be, here on this globe. I had to trust some basic principles of my faith. God is good, loving, and kind. He never promised us a trouble-free life, but He did promise that He’d be with us through the difficult times. And that, according to Romans 8:28, He can use everything for our betterment and His glory.
How did it work in Dad’s favor or our family’s that he had to walk through the valley of Alzheimer’s? I don’t know for sure. In Under the Weeping Willow, Enid, Robin’s daughter, struggles with these questions too, but in the end one positive thing does happen, changing Enid forever.
…..One of the things Mom’s journey with dementia has taught me is this: Life is in the small things, like the word “Amen”—a simple agreement, a yes to words prayed, and a statement claiming the promises of God.
I’ve cried and begged for Mom not to have to go through this valley of loss, but it has come regardless. Now my one plea is that—in all that she has or will lose—she will never lose the love of God and her family. That is a truth worth saying “Amen” to…..
Below, read the blurb and what some reviewers had to say…
💗“You don’t have to be a fan of Christian historical fiction or family dramas to like this novel. Knipfer has created a story that crosses many genres and will appeal to those who love poignant epics about complex characters, engrossing plots, relatable situations, and a satisfying ending.” Tammy Ruggles for Readers’ Favorite, five-star review
💗“A sensitive and well-crafted drama unpacking issues of mental health, layers of grief, societal expectations, and the instability of memory, this novel is touching on the surface, but subtly and profoundly layered with meaning.” Self-Publishing Review ★★★★★
A HISTORICAL NOVEL ABOUT A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER AND THE SECRET SHAPING THEIR ROCKY RELATIONSHIP
Just as Robin Holcomb settles into married life with her husband, Willis, on his aunt and uncle’s farm in Wisconsin, WWI calls Willis away. With an unknown future and a child on the way, Robin makes the best of life among people she barely knows.
After the birth of her child, Robin struggles with depression and battles to overcome her inner demons before despair and hopelessness drive her to attempt to take her own life. Will Robin survive her dive into postpartum depression, let alone see Willis again?
Enid Fenton clears out her Mother’s house and puts the family farm up for sale, trying to not be consumed by guilt for installing her mother into the county nursing home.
Reading through some of her mother’s diary entries, Enid uncovers a secret that helps her make sense of the unnamed point of division that has always soured their relationship.
Can Enid reconcile with her mother before the ravages of Alzheimer’s claim her?
Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction will be moved as this novel takes them from the depths of a person’s psyche and grief to the pinnacle of long-hoped-for peace.
💗“A heart-rending, emotionally packed love story between a mother and daughter, Under the Weeping Willow is a journey of loss and brokenness coupled with forgiveness and healing. This time-split novel captured my heart and didn’t release it until the final page. Beautiful and haunting, Robin and Enid’s story swept me to another era. These characters lived, and I loved watching them find their way to each other. Keep the tissues handy. You don’t want to miss this story!” ~Candace West, Selah award finalist and author of the Valley Creek Redemption series
💗“A gorgeous storyteller, Knipfer has the gift of blending strong imagery with vivid emotions to capture readers’ hearts in this spellbinding story. In Under the Weeping Willow, the characters come to life, and the author is deft in exploring the emotional and the psychological conflicts, allowing readers a strong feel of the characters’ psyches. It will keep any fan of Christian fiction and women’s novels reading to the end.” Christian Sia for Reader’s Favorite, five-star review