“Eleanore Gray is an enjoyable read… an inspiring tale that has a little romance, a little suspense, and a lot of authentic detail about the life of a spunky Ozarks woman.” Mary D. – Amazon.com review
Trade Paperback, 297 pages
ISBN-10: 1463523203 ♦ ISBN-13: 978-1463523206
A complete Press Kit is available here.
Goldie M. Lucas
A native of the Ozark Mountains, Goldie M. Lucas was a published poet whose works were printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Globe Democrat. Eleanore Gray was her first novel. The story draws heavily upon her childhood memories of growing up in Dean’s Creek. Goldie died in 1960, leaving Eleanore Gray nearly finished. Now, over fifty years later, Goldie’s final work has finally seen the light of day.
James N. Lucas
The fifth of Goldie’s nine children, James N. Lucas was born in 1934. When Goldie died, he came into possession of her “super secret project,” the unfinished, handwritten manuscript of Eleanore Gray. He held onto the book for decades before finally entrusting it to his niece, Sarah M. Anderson.
Sarah M. Anderson
Goldie M. Lucas’ granddaughter, Sarah M. Anderson is a published novelist. Her debut novel, A Man of His Word, was published by Harlequin. Her uncle, James N. Lucas, gave her Eleanore Gray to finally realize Goldie’s dream. Sarah finished Eleanore Gray and published the novel in June of 2011.
One evening, after a hard day’s work and after the children had been fed and bedded down, she sat on the porch in the twilight to rest. She was worn out, but not willing to end her day without the well-earned moment or two of absolute rest. The air was perfumed with the scent of orchard blooms, and the frogs chirped gleefully after the long freeze of winter. The indomitable courage of nature awed her. Tiny fireflies flickered about. It was a still night, but to Eleanore’s ears there was a symphony of katydid, whippoorwill, and catbird calls that meshed in harmony with the low mooing of the cow and the stomping of horse hooves in the barn lot. It was the music of the night.
Will Gray came out of the gathering shadows. Eleanore was startled by the unexpected figure and gave a little cry of surprise that ceased when recognition came. She welcomed him gladly. He sat down beside her. “I was thinking of you, Will.”
“Granny Matterson would tell you that it’s an omen of good fortune to think of someone who suddenly appears, or maybe she’d say you had conjuring powers!” replied Will good naturedly. “Pleasant thoughts, I hope.”
“Who would have imagined,” she mused, “years ago, when you and Bob and I were growing up, that we’d be sitting out on a porch in the middle of nowhere alone and lonely. Bit maudlin for a spring night, don’t you think?”
“Eleanore, my dear, dear woman!” Will cried out. “How often in this past year I have wanted to speak to you of this, but have been unable or unwilling. You have no idea how it wounds me to watch you slave away, bearing tasks unfit for any man, let alone a woman like yourself. Your hands have performed hard labor for a year now. I’ve wondered not so much about your hands, but about your heart. You’ve used your hands and your back to escape your heart, to defy loss and loneliness, haven’t you, Ellie?”
When she couldn’t meet his gaze, Will continued, “More than anything else on this earth, I want you. I want to take care of you. I know no one can take Bob’s place, but I wish you would let me in. I’ve loved you always. I love you more than ever now,” he declared.
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This book is originally by your grandmother. What made you decide to finish the work?
Goldie died in 1960, sixteen years before I was born. I knew almost nothing about her for most of my life. When my uncle, James, contacted me about finishing this book, I saw an opportunity to find out more about my family history. To that end, I took the extra step of organizing a “Collective Biography” of Goldie, including a memory from each of her nine children. Those twenty-two pages helped me get to know my grandmother.
Tell me some more about the story behind Eleanore Grey. Is it historically accurate?
The story is set in 1902 in Dean’s Creek, Missouri, which is in the heart of the Ozark Hills. Goldie was born in Dean’s Creek in 1908. From what my father and uncle tell me, the scenes of daily life in Dean’s Creek in the book are taken directly from Goldie’s memories of growing up in Hill Country. She went to a school and a church that are exactly like the ones described in the book, and the details about farming and canning are not only how things were done in Dean’s Creek, but how Goldie continued to do them later in her life. She would can about a thousand jars of preserves every summer!
Are there any other family members involved in this publication?
This book has passed through several hands. My uncle James, who is listed as a co-author, was the one to find the book after Goldie’s death and store it for decades. Cindy Lucas, my aunt, typed the original draft from Goldie’s handwritten manuscript on a typewriter, and my cousin James, Jr., and his wife Faith moved the typed copy to a computer. While I was editing and polishing the manuscript, my parents John and Carolyn Lucas read many drafts to check for typos.
How long did it take you finish the manuscript?
I spent parts of a year working on this project. In total, I only added about ten pages of text to the book, most of which came at the end. Most of that time was spent on proofing and organizing the “Collective Biography.” Proofing was important to me because I wanted the finished product to be something the whole family could be proud of.
What is your favorite memory from the process of finishing this book?
My favorite memory is getting a big box from James and pulling this crumbling sheaf of papers out of it. I learned so much about my grandmother just from holding her words in my hands. My grandparents struggled to get by, but writing this book was so important to my grandmother that she only wrote on one side of the paper—and paper wasn’t cheap. My grandfather bought her all the paper she wanted. That alone told me how much they loved each other. Goldie also doodled in the margins—flowers, women’s faces and heads, that sort of thing. It was a little like watching her think on paper.
You are an author in your own right. Is this book typical of your own work, or was it a new experience for you?
Eleanore Gray is completely different from my work. Goldie was a published poet, and her voice has a lyrical tone that I found almost impossible to replicate. Each time I added something to the book, I had to rewrite it about four times before I could get my voice to match hers. My own books feature modern-day cowboys and Indians, complete with brooding heroes, snarky heroines and absolutely no canning.