to read more:
This is a novel, though based on the lives of the author's parents, names
have been changed, dates moved, and some parts of the story are a figment
of the author's imagination when the whole truth was not known or when
some fantasy added to the storyline. But the personality and characteristics
of Ellie and John Bartlett were patterned as accurately as possible after
the author's mother and father, Norma and Thomas W. Marlen, Sr. as well
as the author's grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.
Most incidents in the story really happened or, when stretched into fantasy,
have some aspect of truth. Actual historical events and information about
St. Louis and United States were researched and written into the story
to coincide with events in the lives of the characters.
St. Louis, Missouri, 1896 through 2000
Ellie's father believed one should reach for dreams and, before he disappeared,
he instilled that quest in his daughter. However, he also taught her about
secrets and, like the tornado that raged the day of Ellie's birth, unpredictable
and disastrous secrets formed to whirl through her life.
One day Ellie bumped into Al Capone on the street and she
saw the opportunity to fulfill her dream of writing newspaper stories.
Capone started making advances and she couldn't walk away. Finally Capone
attacked Ellie; Franny and her husband, Jerry Cohen, created a diversion,
allowing Ellie to escape. But Ellie had snatched Capone's lucky rabbit's
foot. She looked over her shoulder for years, waiting for the day he'd
find her. And he would.
When the lessons of her father were combined with the simple
childhood pact Ellie made with her friend Franny-to always help each other,
a series of tangled mysteries resulted that lasted longer than their lifetimes.
As the years passed, Franny was the one to always help Ellie until one
stormy night; Ellie was pregnant and home with her two-year-old when the
lights and telephones went out. Her water broke, labor began, and she
couldn't find anyone to help. Unexpectedly, Franny and her husband Jerry
Cohen knocked at the door. Much to Ellie's surprise, she bore twins and
spontaneously placed the second child into Franny's arms saying, "Since
you can't have children, I'm giving you Rose Cohen." Not even Ellie's
husband knew of this secret.
For decades, the threads that tightly knit the two friends created happiness
in their lives and families, until Ellie started drinking. Secrets started
to emerge, but only the persistence of Rose Cohen allowed the enigmas
of Ellie's life to be untangled.