I wrote a novel about a woman facing old age.
Old Age is creeping up on me. She will, God-willing, knock on my door in a few years. Beyond my desire to live a simple and contemplative life, is the wonder of what I will become. Already, I sense my tendency to stiffen and settle, to give way to a negative outlook. Instead, I’d rather keep stretching, stay flexible, and learn to go with the flow of life.
Will my body and spirit succumb to the stifling effects of gravity and pain? Or will I find the strength to keep growing and bending with the wind? I don’t want my heart to close but to stay open like a willow tree, sharing grace and beauty in the place God plants me. I pray my trajectory of 58 years has not taken me too far afield of the accepting, compassionate old woman I wish to become.
With The Woman in the Willow, I was free to try on my character, to create a drama exploring her choices. I wrote my novel, in part, to search for the sage in me, the woman who ages with grace and wisdom. My fiction asks,
Can an old woman flower and flow, despite her heart’s instinct to tighten and close?
Here’s a sample chapter: “God on the Lawn”
What’s the Story About?
(From the Ingram Spark Book Description)
Christine Dente delivers a moving story about a woman struggling to forget her traumatic past by hiding away in her backyard haven. The Woman in the Willow offers an exquisite invitation to engage in life’s flowering and flow despite the heart’s instinct to tighten and close.
Catherine Hathaway has no intention of letting another child into her life.
Retired schoolteacher Miss Hathaway longs to be left alone inside her beautiful backyard garden. Just because the new family next door includes a precocious but lonely five-year-old named Tazzy, doesn’t mean the 70-year-old woman must open her haven or her heart to the neglected girl. Catherine is having enough trouble, losing her balance and her vision, without the disruptions of the unsettling memories that the child provokes.
Catherine’s 8-foot fence keeps her precious dog Percy safe in the yard but can’t keep Tazzy out. The spirited child finds a way through the unlocked gate, drawn by sweet Percy and the enchantments of the backyard garden. When she appears with suspicious red marks on her arm and other signs of abuse, Catherine spies on the family, convinced that the single mother is abusive like her own mother was.
The mysterious willow tree hovers throughout Catherine’s story. A refuge from her past, it is now the crown jewel of her garden. Waving from the creek’s edge behind Catherine’s home, the enchanting tree has a life and story of its own.
Memories of the sister she lost and the mother who left her sweep Catherine toward her destiny with the willow, the river, and the child she must find to save her life.
Can this disenchanted old woman rise from the flood of grief and loss?
Will she find the spirit of God moving among the ferns and birds of her haven?
What part will the willow play in transforming Catherine from the woman she is into the one she wants to become?
Journey with Catherine in her search for growth and flowering in old age.
Read a sample chapter here!