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In 2018, readers were introduced to the town of Azure Springs, Iowa, in Rachel Fordham’s debut novel, The Hope of Azure Springs. Fordham revisits this hospitable town in her newest novel, Yours Truly, Thomas, which is sure to charm and delight anyone who loves historical fiction filled with memorable characters and tender romance.
For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people’s mail. As a clerk for the dead letter office, Penny is tasked with reading other people’s mail in order to find where each letter should go. Still, she dreams of something more—a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. Her suffocating life dramatically changes when she opens a series of letters from a heartbroken man to his true love. Penny is captivated by Thomas’s words and seizes the chance to make a difference. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.
Thomas ran from his life of success and wealth to assuage his guilt. But when his plans are foiled, he finds himself in Azure Springs. In his despair, Thomas begins writing letters to his true love with no expectation of receiving a response.
Can two people hurt by loss and miles apart find one another through letters meant for someone else?
I grew up in Washington State on a ten-acre piece of property that was mostly a tree-covered hill. Because of the number of trees on our land, it was impossible to see another house, creating the illusion of living in the middle of nowhere. The tomboy in me loved this and couldn’t get enough of being outside. One summer my little sister and I asked our parents if we could have the leftover garden seeds. Each year we planted a huge garden and hated working in it but the idea of having our own garden appealed to us.
To our great satisfaction, our parents agreed. We took our nearly empty bags of seeds and went into the woods looking for the perfect place to plant our secret garden. We crossed a stream, went over a couple small hills and past the Yedi Fort (a small fort my brother helped us build). We got far enough in the woods that we were not as familiar with the land, which only made it all the more thrilling. We knew plants needed sunlight to grow and finally, we found a meadow (that’s what we named it, but it was just a break in the trees). Pulling the deeply rooted wild grasses up was much harder than we anticipated but we kept at it. Visions of plump vegetables kept us going. Another problem we faced was proximity to water. We shrugged our little shoulders and decided if our pioneer ancestors could haul water so could we.
From then on, we came to our meadow whenever there was a lull in summer chores, and we worked on our secret garden. There were days when the heat and the work weren’t as fun as we wanted but for the most part, we were happy gardeners with big imaginations. We celebrated when our seeds sprouted, anxious to harvest the bounty they were sure to provide. We thought we’d be hauling buckets of vegetables back to our parents…we were wrong. Our seeds barely grew! We had a few small, limp carrots despite our hauling water to them. There were no beautiful rose bushes or hidden entrances like in the books we’d read but it was still magical. The weeds have overgrown any evidence that two little girls spent a summer playing in the clearing. The bounty, in its own way, was large. We were happy and carefree and those are good fruits!
Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.