Pat Jeanne Davis is a proud novelist of the World War II-era book, “When Valleys Bloom Again,” which was published last year by Elk Lake, a Christian book publisher in Plymouth, Massachusetts. …
by Len Lear
Pat Jeanne Davis, who has lived in Roxborough for the past 50 years, worked for many years as an administrative assistant for the director of social services and later for the medical director at an area hospital. But after having children late in life, Pat began writing an occasional article, short story or essay, some of which were published in anthologies such as “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
This encouraged her to start on her first novel. For those who may not be aware, the odds of a first-time novelist being published these days by a traditional publisher are about the same odds of the Eagles hiring a one-legged running back. However, after Davis spent six years writing “When Valleys Bloom Again,” then another two years doing rewrites before it was contracted by an agent and then another two years of rejections, the book was finally accepted by Elk Lake, a traditional Christian book publisher in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Pat grew up during the post-World War II era outside of West Chester, where a portion of her novel is set. In the novel, after fleeing the impending war in England, Abby Stapleton, 19, works to correct her stammer and become a teacher in the U.S., “only to discover this conflict has no boundaries, and a rejected suitor schemes to destroy her name, fiancé and fragile faith.”
A compelling, moving, beautifully told story, “When Valleys Bloom Again” has received many positive reviews and is a finalist in the 2020 “Serious Writer Book of the Year Award.” During a price reduction on Kindle to mark the 76th Anniversary of D-Day, the novel appeared on Amazon’s 100 best seller list for a while.
“I wanted to write a faith-based story in that period with a strong Anglo-American connection,” said Pat. “My husband is British, and his father served in the British 8th Army from 1939 to 1945 at Dunkirk, Normandy and throughout Europe. During the many book signing events I attended last year in PA, NJ, and DE to promote my novel, I’ve signed copies and spoken at libraries, historical societies, women’s groups, book fairs and bookstores, as well as craft fairs.”
What really fascinates me about “Bloom Again” is that it was partly inspired by the life of Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom during WWII. Kathleen, sister of John F, Robert and Teddy Kennedy (and four other siblings), was a charming young rebel whose life was marked by tragedy, like so many of the Kennedys.
In London, Kathleen served in the British Red Cross and married William Cavendish, who was in line to become the next Duke of Devonshire. Tragically, he died in battle a few months after their marriage in May of 1944. Her family bitterly opposed the union because Cavendish was a Protestant. Only one member of the Kennedy family attended the civil ceremony. Kathleen later fell in love with Peter Fitzwilliam, a married man who was also a Protestant. Peter and Kathleen, age 28, both died in a plane crash in 1948. Only her father came to the funeral.
Since the release of “When Valleys Bloom Again,” Pat has been working on another story set in London and Philadelphia in 1911 during the Progressive Era. The heroine in this story is a suffragette who is in charge of a settlement house.
Unfortunately, as with so many other novelists, the coronavirus pandemic has been like a dagger in the back. Since restrictions were put in place, all eight book promotional events that had been scheduled for early spring and the summer months were either canceled or postponed.
“As a consequence,” said Pat, “I’ve stepped up my presence on social media, had a podcast interview, online book promo tour with a giveaway, been interviewed by an online magazine dedicated to fiction readers and authors, increased my guest blogging and participated in several multi-author giveaways. In the last three months, my publisher on two occasions temporarily discounted the price on my novel.”
When asked what she would do if she won the lottery, Pat replied, “Well, established novelists with large publishing houses many times receive additional assistance in promoting and can earn enough from advances and sales to support themselves. As an unknown first-time novelist, I must cover all the expenses associated with adequately getting the word out about my book. If I won some money, I’d use it in further marketing and promoting my work.”
“When Valleys Bloom Again” will be available in audio version soon. For more information, visit www.patjeannedavis.com or facebook.com/pat.j.davis.7. Len Lear can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org