I’m so excited about The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher – besides being written by one of my fave authors, it’s also set in one of my fave states (Kentucky) and covers a part of Kentucky history I never knew about. Plus, that cover, am I right?!?
THE MOONLIGHT SCHOOL by Suzanne Woods Fisher
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: February 2, 2021
Haunted by personal tragedy, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky, in the spring of 1911 to assist her cousin, Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of schools. A fish out of water, Lucy is appalled by the primitive conditions and intellectual poverty she encounters.
Born in those very hills, Cora knows the twin plagues of illiteracy and poverty. So does Brother Wyatt, a singing school master who travels through the hills. Involving Lucy and Wyatt, Cora hatches a plan to open the schoolhouses to adults on moonlit nights. The best way to combat poverty, she believes, is to eliminate illiteracy. But will the people come?
As Lucy emerges from a life in the shadows, she finds purpose, along with something else she hadn’t expected: love.
Inspired by true events, this novel from bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings to life the story that shocked the nation into taking adult literacy seriously.
“The Moonlight School wraps around you like a colorful quilt, planting you soul deep in turn-of-the-century Kentucky. Suzanne Woods Fisher pens an unforgettable story about love and the transforming power of words and community in this remarkable Appalachian-inspired novel. Deeply moving and uplifting!”
-Laura Frantz, Christy Award–winning author of Tidewater Bride
“The Moonlight Schools by Suzanne Woods Fisher is a captivating story with rich history and engaging characters who pull at your heartstrings. Readers will gladly ride up in the hills with Lucy to get to know the local folks. They’ll cheer on Cora Wilson Stewart as she finds a way to open up the world of reading to people who missed out on proper schooling as children. That the story shares the true historical beginnings of the first Moonlight Schools makes it all that much better. If you like fascinating history mixed with great storytelling the way I do, you’ll love Fisher’s The Moonlight Schools.”
-Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of These Healing Hills and An Appalachian Summer
Train Depot, Louisville, Kentucky
Lucy Wilson shifted on the wooden bench, hardly aware of the afternoon chill as she waited for Father to return to the station. She was halfway through Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and she sensed a niggling worry about sister Beth’s fragile health.
Whenever Lucy finished a chapter, she restrained from turning the page and made herself put down the book to check on her own sister, two-and-a-half-year-old Charlotte, who was curled up like a cat on Father’s coat, napping soundly, arms wrapped around a favorite stuffed bear she called Mr. Buttons. Lucy stroked one of her sister’s chubby little white hands and tucked a blonde ringlet away from her round cheek. At moments like this, when Charlotte was sleeping, she could see so much of Mother in her sister’s little face. She pulled the edge of Father’s coat over Charlotte’s woolen stockings and picked up her book, only to put it down again when she heard the railroad clock chime.
Two o’clock. Father had been gone for over an hour. He didn’t say when he might return from his business meeting, only that Lucy must keep close watch on her sister. Charlotte was a curious little girl and had an annoying tendency to wander off. Just yesterday, Lucy had caught Charlotte in Mother’s writing room, playing with her jewelry box. She scooped up Charlotte in one arm and gathered the jewelry with her free hand, but when she looked through the jewelry box later, one ring was missing. An anniversary gift Father had given to Mother, a ring of small ruby chips. As soon as they returned home to Lexington, Lucy would resume the hunt for the ruby ring before Father realized it was gone.
Father had forbidden Lucy and Charlotte to play in Mother’s writing room, though that didn’t stop the girls. One time when cousin Cora had come for a visit, Lucy had overheard Father say it was the one place in the house he could still sense his wife’s presence.
Lucy felt the same way about the writing room. She could almost smell her mother’s scent, a lavender perfume that she liked to dab behind her ears. The writing room had been left virtually untouched since Mother had died, right down to the quill pen left in the same inkpot, as if she were going to return soon from an errand and pick up a story where she had left off.
Lucy and Charlotte often sneaked into the writing room after Father had left for work and the housekeeper was busy with the day’s tasks. The room was actually Mother’s dressing room, but she had used it for her writing room because she liked how the corner windows let light stream in all day long. The girls would sit on the floor together, and Lucy would show Charlotte each piece of jewelry and tell stories about Mother. She wanted Charlotte to have memories of their mother, even if imagined ones.
Lucy missed her mother with all her heart, missed everything about her; her gentle ways, her sparkling laugh, her joy of life. Her mother used to tell Lucy stories, and together they would come up with plot twists or surprise endings. Someday, she told Lucy, they would write a book together. But someday never came.
Charlotte squirmed in her sleep, and Lucy wiggled her back against the cold bench. When would Father return? He felt the girls were safer waiting here at the station than at a lumberyard, with big saws and horses and wagons and hardened tree fellers.
She glanced once more at the clock and sighed. Only a few minutes past three, though it felt like hours since Father had left. As long as Charlotte napped, she didn’t mind waiting for Father because she was able to read to her heart’s content. Father didn’t approve of novels, not after Mother died. He said such twaddle softened the brain.
A train came into the station. Lucy watched dozens of people, all kinds—rich and poor and everything in between—stream out its doors. A young woman stood at a distance, looking at them with a peculiar expression on her face. Lucy realized the woman’s attention was focused on Charlotte. She glanced down at her napping sister and saw her blue eyes open briefly, blinking, before drifting shut as she fell back to sleep. Lucy turned the page to the next chapter in Little Women and was immediately transplanted into the world of Jo and Beth and Meg and Amy, upstairs in their bedrooms, Marmie downstairs in the kitchen with the cook.
She read a chapter, and then another and another, sobbing as she came to Beth’s tragic death. She knew it! She knew Beth was going to die.
“Lucy!” Her father’s fierce shout broke through her shell of absorption. “Lucille!”
She snapped the book shut and stuffed it in her bag before turning to see her father stomp toward her, all buttoned up in his dour black suit, gesturing wildly at her.
“Lucille!” he shouted again. “Where is your sister?”
Lucy jerked around to where Charlotte had been sleeping. Father’s coat remained, all bunched up, Mr. Buttons the bear tucked under a sleeve. But her sister was gone. She placed her hand on the spot to see if it was still warm. Stone cold.
A fear rose in Lucy, a greater fear than she’d ever experienced in her nine years, including that terrible day her mother lay dying.
Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2021. Used by permission.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 30 books, including On a Summer Tide and On a Coastal Breeze, as well as the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, The Deacon’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, among other novels. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California.
Revell is offering a print copy of The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher to THREE of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher?