Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be bringing you another Missouri author review just in time for Mother’s Day! If you’re like me and your mom and grandmother spent hours upon hours reading to you as a child this might be the perfect way to express your love and gratitude this Mother’s Day.
When I pick up a novel on my lunch break or at the end of a long day I want to escape. I want a break from my to-do list, from the swirling world around me and I want to relax. Charlotte Hubbard’s A Mother’s Gift accomplishes this with ease.
A Mother’s Gift introduces us to Leah Otto on the eve of her wedding to Jude Shetler, a widower with three children including twin teenage daughters. Though Leah and Jude love each other deeply the first few months of their marriage get off to a rocky start. Jude’s family is still grieving the loss of their mother, his daughters are on rumspringa diving head first into the “English” world, and little Stevie still hasn’t decided to trust Leah. But when God brings baby Betsy into their lives out of the blue everything begins to change. Could this be the opening, the second chance, the Shetler family has been praying for?
At its heart, A Mother’s Gift is the story of a woman finding her purpose and a family growing together, choosing each other every day. Something that really stood out to me as I read the book was how incredibly relatable I found it. I’d never read any Amish fiction before and I was a little worried it’d be too provincial for me to see myself in. Boy was I wrong. The lens of Missouri’s Amish communities stripped away all the many distractions of modern life and allowed the important things to shine through. Family, given or chosen, communication, trust; concepts which seem so simple but become harder and harder to attain. Seeing life’s problems manifest themselves in the Shetler’s simple, Plain, lives helped me to find simplicity and peace I’d been lacking in my own.
Amish or not, people are just people after all. Leah may be an Amish wife, and now mother, but she works with animals rather than doing the family housework making her feel like an outsider with the other women in the community. Jude is sometimes too quick to take things at face value, without looking deeper, missing crucial signals from his family. The twins, Alice and Adeline, are so desperate for their independence they’ll do almost anything to gain it. Little Stevie just wants love and stability at home, and to eat any cookie he can get his hands on! At one point in my life I’ve been each and every one of these characters, and I’m willing to bet you have too.
Charlotte has a gift for imagery, leaving me salivating for cinnamon rolls or cookies more than once over the course of the book. She has a way of bringing people and places so vividly to life you feel as if you’re sitting at the Shetler family kitchen table as the story unfolds around you. If I close my eyes, even now, I can picture the twins in their cape dresses and kapps moving around the kitchen preparing dinner while Leah hangs up her barn jacket and Stevie coos at baby Betsy in the corner.
In a world that is increasingly chaotic and combative Hubbard’s writing feels like walking into a warm hug that didn’t quit. And who couldn’t use more of that?!
Now, who’s ready to take a peek inside the mind of author Charlotte Hubbard?!
Are you originally from Mid-Missouri? If not, how did you come to be here?
I grew up in KC, went to college in Maryville, got my first teaching job in St. Elizabeth, lived 4 years in St. Louis, and then spent the next 24 years in Jeff City—so even though I live in St. Paul now, I’ve spent most of my life as a Missouri girl.
How has being a Missourian influenced your writing career (or work?
When I got the chance to write these Amish stories for Kensington, I chose Missouri as my setting because I know the lay of the land, and because many Amish and Mennonite communities are sprinkled throughout the Missouri countryside—and also because most other authors in this genre choose the more well-known Amish locales out East, like Lancaster County, PA or Holmes County, OH for their settings. I did/do my research for these books in Jamesport, as well.
What’s your favorite part about writing? What drew you to the Amish genre?
I enjoy writing because I can work in a home office on a flexible schedule that allows for some nice vacations! My favorite part of the process is the brainstorming…because after that, you actually have to do the work of filling 300+ pages with words.
I lucked into writing for this genre when my editor realized that Amish stories were selling very well but nobody was writing them for Kensington—and because I’d written a faith-and-family historical series called Angels of Mercy for her, she knew I’d be a good fit for this genre. I’ve since written/contracted for 15 Amish books with her, so I guess she was right!
If you could share a meal with any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Authors are my peeps, so I’ve shared meals with dozens of wonderful writers who, thankfully, were alive at the time. I wouldn’t want to name just one and thereby disappoint the others, right?
What are you reading now?
I’m on the 3rd book of Anna Lee Huber’s historical murder mystery series, called A Grave Matter. I don’t read Amish stories because I don’t want other authors’ Amish stories to influence what I write... and because there’s a whole ‘nother world of stories out there. My TBR pile is way taller than I am, and it keeps growing, so it may outlive me!
Where do you find inspiration? What’s the most challenging part of being an author?
Inspiration is a little easier when you write series, as I usually do, because you have a setting and a cast of characters that roll you along for several books. Inspiration also strikes because I have to meet my deadlines in order to get paid!
Lately, my biggest challenge has been Neal’s retirement because, although I truly enjoy writing and I intend to keep at it for a long while yet, I see him doing fun stuff—whatever he wants—and I wish I could play all day, too.
What do you wish everyone knew about authors?
Every author you see seated at an autograph table in a bookstore or mall would much rather sign a book for you than answer your question about where the restroom is.
Coffee or Tea? TEA
Computer or pen and paper? Manuscript, or grocery list?
Letter or email? EMAIL
Fiction or non-fiction? FICTION
Farm chores or house chores? CHORES? I have to do chores??
Paperback, Hardback or Tablet? All of them!
Favorite word? Vera, my dog’s name!
You can find A Mother’s Gift, and many of Charlotte’s other novels, at Downtown Book & Toy.
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