The Shenandoah Road

John Russell’s heart aches from the loss of his wife, but the Shenandoah Valley frontiersman needs to marry again for his daughter’s sake. At first he believes he has found the right young woman, despite their differences, but his faith falters when time reveals she isn’t quite what she seemed. Can he truly love her?

Unlike her disgraced sister, Abigail Williams obeys the Commandments. At least, she thinks herself a Christian until a buckskin-clad newcomer courts her. He treats her kindly but also introduces her to a sermon by the controversial preacher, George Whitefield. Her self-righteousness is shattered, and she wonders about their relationship. If she confesses her lack of faith, will John continue to love her?

Story Behind the Story:

The Shenandoah Road

by Lynne Tagawa

I picked up The Guns of Thunder by Douglas Bond and began to read. It’s a book for juveniles, but that never stopped me before. It’s set during the time of the Great Awakening (1740s) and George Whitefield makes a cameo appearance.

I marveled. The author had done a good job incorporating spiritual truth into a good story. But the only book set during this time period that I really liked was this one! It’s a time period that deserved to be explored at an adult level.

I began to do research. I had a vague idea that folks in Virginia were different from those in New England. Turns out, the differences were pretty big. I enjoyed exploring cultural differences in Shenandoah. What if a Scots-Irish frontiersman married a woman from New England?

Also, about this time I also scored a two-week free trial to a genealogy site. I made some discoveries, including the fact that the May name in our family wasn’t English, it was Scottish. Shenandoah includes some characters with that name and that’s why. History seems more real when it’s your own family—or what could have been family.

George Whitefield doesn’t make an appearance, but one of his sermons does. This Church of England minister made thirteen trips to the New World, preaching the new birth without regard to church affiliation or background. The Great Awakening of the 1730s and 40s wasn’t just a sudden flash in the pan. Whitefield was joined by Jonathan Edwards, Gilbert Tennent and Samuel Davies, Presbyterians, and a growing number of Baptists who carried on the work of solid gospel preaching.

When I thought on these things, I realized how important the Great Awakening was to the Revolution and the birth of our country. I decided to write a trilogy that included these themes. The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening is not about George Whitefield, but his sermon affects one of my characters. And there’s a bit of romance too.

Honestly, this is the sort of book that I’d like to read. And so I wrote it.

Lynne Tagawa is an educator, writer, and editor who loves coffee and chocolate. Best of all, she is the grandma of five. Author of Sam Houston’s Republic and the Russells 18th century series, she lives in south Texas with her family.

Buy link to The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening (the Russells, book 1):

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