Written as a tribute to her ancestors, Eileen Schuh’s novel Between the Sun and the Rainbow is a read that will appeal to many. Eileen has popped into PBHQ to tells us how the book came about, so please take a comfy seat and settle down to meet my wonderful guest and friend, Eileen Schuh.
Although I wrote BETWEEN THE SUN AND THE RAINBOW as a tribute to my ancestors, a gift to my grandchildren and a link to bind us all together, the story ( albeit unintentionally) also carries a strong modern message of hope for those of us caught up in the pandemic.
BETWEEN THE SUN AND THE RAINBOW starts off with a mother admonishing her children to consider the turn in their lives an "adventure."
cannot believe she's embarking on an adventure. Her parents are fighting and
divorcing and her mother has moved them from their city home to a rundown shack
on the prairies.
Danielle must have felt much like we do--life as she'd always known it was over. She has no electricity, no inside toilet. No running water. Her friends, her school, and her father are thousands of kilometers away. And...like us, she has no idea how or when it's all going to end. She knows, it will never be the same again.
Danielle does make it through, stronger, wiser and happier as I’m sure we all will as well. Hang in there.
As to my original intentions for this, my first juvenile novel, I grew up on a small farm by Tofield, Alberta, Canada through the 1950’s and 60’s. My parents sold that farm just months after I gave birth to my first child, so I was never able to share that important part of my life with either my children or grandchildren.
The characters are fictional, but where they live and some of the events on the farm that influence their lives, are based on my younger years.
The cabin Danielle lives in, as described in the book and illustrated on the cover, is the home I grew up in, complete with cream separator, pantry, stove, cellar and the cupboards behind the curtain. I slept upstairs as Danielle does, ran my hands over the rafters and felt the heat of the chimney rising through the floor.
I, of course, did not have a cell phone or iPad as the characters in the book do. In fact, we didn’t have a TV or a phone of any kind. I do, though, remember listening to music and stories on the gramophone and the transistor radio.
I hauled in wood and coal for heating and cooking, worked in the garden, and played in a tree house as my characters do.
In the book, the history that Mom teaches Jayson and Danielle about the farmstead and her ancestors is closely based on fact. My father’s parents, lived in the cabin before my family did. And yes, my Grandma Fairbrother married when she was in her early teens and moved to Alberta from the United States.
It was I who went to the Grade One school house that Danielle’s mom describes (and who got in trouble from the teachers for getting wet in the spring). It was my older sister (rather than Mom’s older brother in the story) who was born after a hectic horse and buggy ride through the spring melt followed by a school bus run to the Tofield Hospital.
And, yes, the Town of Tofield is named after the pioneer medical man, Dr. J.H. Tofield.
Despite these similarities to reality, unlike in the story neither I nor my parents divorced. In fact, my dad died just shy of my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary and my husband and I celebrate our fortieth the year this book was published. Also, unlike Danielle and her mother, I’ve never lived in Toronto and I have two sisters but no brothers.
Although written to connect my family, I believe the story resonates with all those who have an interest in ‘the way things used to be” and those seeking support as they travel through our pandemic ‘adventure’.
As always, thank you for calling by PBHQ. I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.
You may want to read Barbara Gaskell Denvill’s post about her cosy mystery