My Father's House by Rose Chandler Johnson
Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Paperback & ebook, 314 pages
Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to her one constant – her father’s love. But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning with her father’s sudden death. There begins Lily’s struggle to find herself and a life she thinks is gone forever.
Marriage to her prince charming promises fulfillment, but their happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Beneath the sophisticated façade lies a brooding man who hides dark secrets. When all Lily’s illusions of happiness shatter, she must make hard choices – abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about.
In spite of heartbreak and regrets, will she find the strength to survive whatever comes? Or will her husband find her and shatter all her hopes . . . again. This is one woman’s compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to faith and who she’s meant to be . . . in her father’s house.
My Father’s House is Rose’s first novel. Her devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments won the Georgia Author of the Year Finalist Award in 2014. It was also awarded the Selah Finalist Award in the same year. Rose enjoys writing for her blog, Write Moments with God and engaging with her readers. A native Georgian, Rose has lived in a suburb of Augusta for the last thirty years. Before retiring from Georgia’s public school system, Rose taught English, French, and ESOL. She is currently an adjunct English instructor at a community college. In addition to reading and writing, Rose enjoys cooking, sewing, gardening, and spending time with her six children and their growing families. And yes, sweet iced tea is her beverage of choice.
Lily Rose’s relationship with her father sets the stage for her life and the story, My Father’s House. Although the reader gets only glimpses of her “Daddy”, they are telling glimpses which reveal who he is. Michael Cates takes the dominant role in his daughter’s early life and development. In that brief first chapter, the reader learns he takes particular pride and joy in his wife and daughter. He is an imposing figure of integrity with influence and position in the community. He is easy-going, kind, and considerate, and he looks out for the needs of his family. Lily Rose’s father was forty-seven when she was born, at Easter time, his favorite time of year. He names his beloved daughter after the flowers that bloom in spring.
I was born on April 10, 1964 in our little Georgia town during the most beautiful time of year. It was Easter, much to my father's delight. That time of year when the earth flourishes with color and fragrance. The dogwoods and azaleas bloom, and irises and lilies nod their pretty heads like well-behaved children. That’s how I came to be called Lily Rose. Daddy made everything perfect in my world. To his way of thinking, Mama and I were the best things God had ever created. Because he believed in me, I believed too.
Lily’s mother “never seemed to notice” her. She is frail and quiet, and readers surmise that she is clinically depressed. In this scene we see her daddy’s kind nature in action.
“Come on in Emmy,” Daddy would say. “Supper’s ‘bout ready. I've fixed you a glass of sweet tea and Annie Ruth has made some corn muffins just the way you like 'em." But Mama kept right on rocking in that big oak rocker like she hadn’t heard a word he said. Daddy would walk over and wait beside her. Reaching down he gently held her elbow like it was a baby bird. Sure enough, she’d rise as if empowered by invisible wings. They stepped side by side across the weathered porch, letting the screen door slam behind them. Daddy would smile then, and look at me and nod.
“It's gonna be all right, Lily Rose," he’d say. “It’s gonna be all right.” At that time I didn't understand that something was wrong with Mama. Just that she was too quiet and she rocked for a long time on the porch like she was waiting for somebody. Daddy was the only one who could perk her up besides James Michael. She never seemed to notice me.
Here is another revealing glimpse of her father. Daddy was our high school’s history teacher. He knew everything there was to know about the Civil War, the Great Depression, the World Wars, about so many events and faraway places. He'd been in the Pacific in World War II and traveled across the entire country by bus and train. He didn’t talk about that much. He said it best to keep all those memories and nightmares locked in his green army trunk. He talked politics and called presidents by their last names like they were his personal friends. Like theysmoked pipes or chewed fat cigars together under the old oak trees outside the American Legion. He talked about the time Grandpa advised him to come out the Democratic Party. I loved his stories. When I was thirteen, Daddy was awarded Teacher of the Year. I went with him to the banquet. Just me, because Mama couldn't go. After James Michael went away, Mama seemed to go away too.
With his dying breath, her daddy tells her she’s going to be all right, voicing his faith, not only in her, but also in God. Her father is the man Lily Rose will always see as the ideal father/husband type.