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Women like us


and to love. People can sense when we’re not being authentic, and relationships of all sorts thrive with a generous infusion of love.


Sister dearest Before moving on, I want to mention Katie’s second book in the series, The Lost Garden. It doesn’t feature VWs, but her modern-day protagonist, Marin, faces a massive change when she moves to Cumbria and becomes the guardian for her half-sister. Often today we overlook the importance of sibling relationships, so I appreciated how Katie explores not only Marin and Rebecca’s new life together, but also how two sisters in the historical section, Eleanor and Katherine, relate: Katie:


I have an older sister, and


certainly our relationship inspired some of the story, although we never fought the way Eleanor and Katherine do! Having four daughters myself also makes me interested in the sister relationship. It’s such an important one, and I’ve often told my daughters that the sibling relationship will most likely be the longest of your life, longer even than that you have with your parents or potential spouse. As I write, a bit of myself bleeds onto


every page, even if the circumstances of a story or character are totally different to my own. All my writing, I think, focuses on both tragedy and hope, and how one can spring from the other.


Pleasant places Whereas I’ve moved within the UK since Katie and I both lived in Cambridge, Katie has hopped across the Atlantic and back in the intervening years. I’m aware that returning to one’s original country can be more challenging than anticipated, as she confirms: Katie: After our time in Hull, we moved


back to the States for eight years, which we found very difficult because we’d become far more British than we realised. In fact, most people assumed we were British due to our accents. Although we didn’t realise it at the time, we were always orienting ourselves toward this country. I struggled with having to drive


everywhere, the isolation of suburban life, and a tendency on the part of many Americans not to consider the wider world. I missed a lot of things about England – the British people’s pleasure in simple things like a digestive and a weak cup of tea, and an attitude of forbearance that Americans often don’t have. Also walking places, villages that don’t sprawl


16 October 2015 womanalive


endlessly, and of course sausage rolls. As I reflect back, I see that the Lord has opened and closed doors in our lives, for which I am very grateful; otherwise I don’t know where we would be. I’ve seen his hand at work in every move, and although we’ve sometimes wanted to stay, when the Lord moves you on you can later see why. I trust in his goodness in the midst of much uncertainty, which is a huge comfort when life is in upheaval. Amy: I don’t agree about sausage


rolls, but I too love walking to the shops and how my part of London can feel like a village as I encounter friends and parishioners locally. How the weather builds our character as it changes daily and often hourly. I can’t say that even now I understand irony or understatement, or why mixer taps aren’t universal, but I can see the wisdom of a cup of tea and have embraced Wimbledon as the pinnacle of sporting wonder, when the days are long and the strawberries burst with flavour. And I’ve felt


the leading and loving


of the Lord. Pondering the Psalms, and especially those of David, informs and encourages me, such as Psalm 16:5-6: “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Sometimes these boundary lines feel


constraining – we yearn for unfettered freedom. But we


don’t escape the


perspective; we don’t realise that if we


fences, leaving


have God’s our


verdant green patch, we’ll be out in the wilderness, subject to foxes and other vermin. The boundary lines give us a place to flourish; a place to call home; a place to find ourselves.


For you to win


We have five copies of Finding Myself in Britain, by Amy Boucher Pye and The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz to give away. For your chance to win, simply send your name and address to WAAmy and/or WAKatharine, Woman Alive Competitions, CPO, Garcia Estate, Canterbury Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 1BW by 26th October 2015. The first five names selected for each book on that day will each receive a prize.


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