DEATH. GRIEF. LOVE.
Separated by a great distance in the 1890s, can a widower and a schoolteacher overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of their love and commitment? John Feist unfolds a true-love story, old–fashioned letter style, in his historical romance novel, THE COLOR OF RAIN.
Handsome, well-respected local banker, now eligible bachelor, Frank Wilson is nothing less than a hot-ticket item with “the path to [his] home…a pilgrimage for unmarried women bearing casseroles.” He’s not interested in remarriage right away—except for Irene, a schoolteacher living two train connections away. A long-distance courtship commences. The lovers keep to weekly letter-writing since they barely have the chance to see each other, especially when trials and tribulations convolute their individual lives.
“Feist’s rich writing style stitches historical details, providing a seamless flow from letters-writing to narrative sections that capture everyday life’s realities amid unsettling times. A true-love historical romance that will have readers riveted to the page. Highly recommended!” --Chanticleer Reviews, five stars
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From John: THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE NOVEL
The bones of THE COLOR OF RAIN are the actual courtship letters exchanged between my grandparents, Frank and Irene, in 1896-97. I call the letters “history in a shoebox” because I found them in just such a box while emptying my mother’s home in 1981. The preserved letters opened to me a literary gateway to two sensitive, articulate individuals facing profound questions of commitment and solitude in Kansas during the last years of the nineteenth century. The complete correspondence--over one hundred letters--tells of the fifteen-month journey my grandparents made through daily and sometimes singular obstacles to reach commitment. These original texts are interspersed with fictional scenes based on my research and retelling of family lore.
I wrote THE COLOR OF RAIN not only to honor these two remarkable people, but also to shed light on a fascinating era in Kansas history. The novel introduces readers to a time and place they may know little about, and may find themselves longing for once they become immersed in it: the burgeoning Midwest near the dawn of a new millennium, two decades before US involvement in World War I, when most Americans viewed the future with excitement and hope. Frank’s and Irene’s letters offer the pleasures of a real-life love story—the first declarations of affection, the soaring emotions, the inevitable misunderstandings and confrontations as promises are made, withdrawn, and ultimately renewed. But the letters also transcend the personal: they provide a glimpse into a forgotten world that is rooted in traditional American values, yet may seem intriguingly foreign to the modern reader in many respects.
This is a time when a man’s family and friends begin pressing him to find a new mate when he is still in shock from the death of his wife, the argument being that no man can possibly raise his children, run his household, and maintain his business without a woman by his side. Frank must grieve his loss and pursue a new romance at the same time.
This is a world where a separation of thirty miles presents a challenge to a blossoming relationship, and an age when obligation to family takes precedence over personal desires. The devoted daughter of ailing parents, Irene is as tied to her family’s farm as Frank is to his business and his sons. The telephone remains a novelty; the railroad is the primary mode of transportation between towns. Modern-day readers will be astonished to learn that Frank and Irene meet only eight times during their courtship. Their romance is mostly conducted through letters. By necessity, the power of words sustains their love through long weeks apart, crises and losses, Frank’s retreat and Irene’s efforts to understand his state of mind—all the way through to the altar
Letter from Frank to Irene
Letter from Irene to Frank
Frank Wilson with a young Frances Webb Wilson, the author's mother
The house in Horton, Kansas
Grandmother Irene with John Feist
Copyright © 2021 John W. Feist, Author - All Rights Reserved.