Unexpected events in writing, life surround Sarah Eden's 'Hope Springs'

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15 2014 4:00 p.m. MST

Utah author Sarah M. Eden had a few surprises as she wrote the historical novel “Longing for Home,” which was released last fall, and the story's conclusion in “Hope Springs” (Shadow Mountain, $15.99), which is scheduled to be released this week.

The story was initially going to be one book.

“But I created such a complex story that it just couldn’t be told in one book,” Eden said in an interview with the Deseret News. Both books are longer than 380 pages each. “I surprised myself on that one.”

The story shares Katie Macauley’s journey as she moves to a town in Wyoming Territory in 1870 that is sharply divided and prejudiced against the Irish immigrants. Katie has spent most of her 26 years earning money to go back to Ireland to restore the land they lost in the Great Famine and to buy a marker for her young sister’s grave.

She has no desire to be drawn into the feud, but she is the housekeeper for Joseph Archer, a non-Irish widower and the main landowner in the valley, and his two children, and her very presence in town fuels the ire of the non-Irish residents. She is a source of hope for the Irish.

Eden, who has Irish ancestry, had wondered what it was like for the Irish immigrants who came to the U.S. during that time period, and she wanted to write a book from an immigrant’s perspective, which would require a change of setting.

“I’ve actually wanted to write this story for a really long time,” Eden said. “It still has that very European flair as the characters are Irish. It’s set here in America, which gives it a different tone.”

Many of the events are based on stories she found that happened to immigrants in that era in Ireland and in the West.

And at the end of “Longing for Home,” Katie had a choice to make — to stay in Hope Springs and help her new friends there or go home to Ireland to be with her ailing parents. Also, a love triangle between Katie, who has no experience, the quiet and steady Joseph and the flirtatious yet hard-working Tavish O’Connor developed.

In “Hope Springs,” the tensions between the Irish and non-Irish continue to escalate as Katie tries to sort out her feelings as she sacrifices her meager savings to help the effort.

It’s a pleasant departure from Eden’s previous books, which have been set in Regency-era England. And the research has created other ideas for other stories set in the American West.

Eden is one of three authors who are regular contributors to the collections of six novellas in Timeless Romance Anthology collections. Eden’s story in the “Love Letter Collection,” which was released last month, is set in Omaha, Neb., in 1867.

A love triangle

Another unexpected element about “Hope Springs” was that two men were interested in Katie.

It wasn’t initially supposed to be a love triangle, Eden said, adding she did have a character who was going to be Katie's love interest.

“Then this other guy kept insisting he ought to get a shot,” she said, declining to say which one was the interloper.

“Both of these men would be a good fit,” Eden said. “I really wanted it to be a hard choice for her. She’s a person who has never really had choices in life. So I felt like it was important for her to have one and be the one to make the decision.”

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