The Waiting Time

The Waiting Time

by Eugenia Price

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A major new work from Eugenia Price, one of America's best-loved storytellers, The Waiting Time is an ambitious, romantic, historically rich epic, sure to delight new and loyal readers alike.

Spirited Abigail Banes dreams her newly married life in coastal Georgia will be lived amid spreading magnolia trees, where lovers walk and whisper along…  See more details below


A major new work from Eugenia Price, one of America's best-loved storytellers, The Waiting Time is an ambitious, romantic, historically rich epic, sure to delight new and loyal readers alike.

Spirited Abigail Banes dreams her newly married life in coastal Georgia will be lived amid spreading magnolia trees, where lovers walk and whisper along blossom-lined paths. But her dreams are shattered when a fatal accident claims her husband, Eli, leaving her sole proprietor of their rice plantation—and the slaves that work the magnificent land.

Forging a new life for herself, Abby finds a new identity—as a feminist before her time, an abolitionist before there is a way to free slaves. As she struggles with her inheritance, Abby finds herself turning to her new overseer, Thaddeus Greene. And, at a time when love is forbidden to her, Abby realizes Thad is destined to take Eli's place in her heart. Eli could never have known that by hiring Thad he had given a lasting gift to his beloved wife—for from the moment Abby gazes into Thad's penetrating gray eyes, she knows she will never be alone again.

With The Waiting Time, Ms. Price felt she had found the perfect title for her book, as it captures the dual strands of this entrancing story: the wait for the beginning of the Civil War and for the end of the time custom dictates Abby must wait before she and Thad can be together. This compelling novel, which brings a human face to a nation braced for Southern secession, embraces the unrelenting passion that marks an incredible love story.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
While it is their emotions, their observations, their wisdom, and their follies that dominate these pages, Price also gives her characters a well-documented historical background.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Completed just prior to her death in 1996, Price's (Beauty from Ashes) final novel is ponderously plotted and awash in sweet navet. Her last chronicle of the Old South begins in the North, as Boston blueblood Abigail (Abby) Barnes marries rice planter Eli Edward Allyn and moves with him to coastal Georgia. But after only five years of marriage, Abigail feels trapped by Eli's silences and his preoccupation with their plantation, Abbeyfield. Then Eli, on his way to rendezvous with an illegal slave ship, drowns in a sudden storm. Left alone with a plantation to run, Abigail finds herself growing closer to her housemaid, Rosa Moon, and spending ever more time with Abbeyfield's handsome overseer, Thad Green. Confused by her feelings about Eli's death, her growing attraction to Thad and her increasing doubts about the morality of slavery, Abbey returns to Boston for a visit. Surrounded by her mother's abolitionist friends, it isn't long before she decides she must free all her slaves. Returning to Georgia, she is encouraged in this plan by Thad, who has proposed marriage. While the fate of Abby's slaves is left unresolved in the wake of John Brown's raid and in the shadow of the looming Civil War, Abby's future with Thad is happily secured. As usual, Price works in only the most primary of emotional colors; although the picture she paints isn't subtle, it's sure to be treasured by her millions of fans. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections; Crossings main selection. (May)
Library Journal
Price (Beauty from Ashes, LJ 1/95), the grande dame of Southern romantic fiction, died shortly after completing this work. In her final novel, she tells the story of Abbie Allyn, a Boston socialite who marries an older man and moves to a small coastal Georgia town where her husband has purchased a rice plantation. When Abbie's husband, Eli, dies during a trip to purchase contraband slaves, she suddenly finds herself the owner of 100 slaves and a plantation whose workings she doesn't understand. Aided by Thad Greene, her handsome young overseer, Abbie learns rice culture and develops both a feminist and abolitionist conscience; predictably, she finds love as well. Fans of Price's previous novels will find all the hallmarks of her fiction here: considerable historical research, historical figures walking the streets, and a story imbued with inspirational Christian values. A required purchase wherever Price's novels are popular. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/97.]Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
Kirkus Reviews
The indefatigable Price (Beauty from Ashes, 1995, etc. etc.), returning to her beloved South with another preCivil War tale, provides shadings of complexity on a subject that tends to be portrayed in strictly black-and-white terms: the reactions of Southerners, both transplanted and born-and-bred, to an institution that literally divided the country.

Well-bred Bostonian Abigail Banes has plenty of romantic illusions about what life will be like when she marries the much older Eli Allyn, who owns a rice plantation in coastal Georgia. And to a certain extent, those illusions come true: Eli dotes on her, buys her everything she could dream of, and provides her with two loyal, kind-hearted servants who cater to her every whim. But what Abigail really craves—companionship—seems beyond her husband's abilities to provide. When Eli dies unexpectedly while attempting to purchase slaves, his new overseer, Thaddeus Greene, comes to Abby's immediate rescue, helping her understand, for the first time, the inner-workings of the plantation and the responsibilities she now faces as the owner of not only the property but the hundreds of black men and women who keep it operating. Although Thaddeus works as an overseer, his true feelings about slavery cause him constant anguish; and after a visit to Boston, where her also-widowed mother has become an avid abolitionist, Abby is forced to make some critical decisions concerning her livelihood. In the end, Abby and Thad both find peace of mind in living true to their deepest beliefs; in the process they also find what each has been seeking without really knowing it: a love that will sustain them through their darkest hours.

Formulaic period romance, yes, but Price's saving grace, once again, is her thorough historical research and her insistence on blending a strong dose of real grit with the obligatory melodrama.

From the Publisher
"Eugenia Price has made history come to life through the lives of her characters. She has a rare talent, and we consider her to be one of our country's greatest authors."—former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

"Sure to be treasured by her millions of fans."—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged Edition Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.46(w) x 8.45(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

On the night of September 3, 1853, spirited Abigail Banes sat on the buggy seat beside the man she had just promised to marry and hugged herself with joy and anticipation. The well-shaped, aristocratic hands of her future husband, Eli Edward Allyn, were reining the horse in front of the Banes family's Mount Vernon Street house on Boston's Beacon Hill. Abby had been courted by Eli Edward Allyn for exactly one year today. On September 3, 1852, he had escorted her to their first dance in celebration of her birthday and, since that night, all of life had been transformed and would never, never be the same again.

She would always miss her beloved late father, Gerald Banes, but now and forever, she would have Eli and his coastal rice plantation in Georgia and no other young woman could ask for more. It worried Eli that he was so much older than she, but as his wife, Abby planned to be blissfully happy. Her enduring girlhood dream, heightened by the many romantic novels she'd read, was about to come true. She and Eli were getting married before the end of the year so he could start learning all about rice culture on his recently purchased plantation. And not only was he going to take her to the Georgia coast for a honeymoon, but they were going there to live together for always. Abby had so romanticized the area, she'd even thought of writing a novel about it herself--about life lived under spreading magnolia trees laden with ivory blossoms, where lovers could meander along flower-lined paths through lush gardens, tended, as would be her every wish, by smiling, singing, contented dusky-skinned slaves.

As though they were so close he could already read her thoughts, Elionce more began to ask his questions, all of which she'd answered a dozen times. "Are you absolutely sure, Abigail, that you won't be bothered as a Northerner to live among slaves?"

"How many times, dear sir, do I have to reassure you? I know some Bostonians feel strongly about the evil of slavery, but I also know my handsome husband's kind and generous heart. Eli, you simply are not capable of being a cruel slave owner! Besides, I just won't think about it. My blessed father didn't approve of slavery, but Mother assures me that it's quite possible to put it out of my mind and just be grateful to God for you. You know how that elegant woman respects and admires you, don't you? To my mother's normally critical eye, you can do no wrong. She'll be so pleased that we're going to be married. I'm sure it will make her feel she's done a superb job of raising me and she can now boast about God's goodness in giving her only daughter a well-to-do, handsome husband, the owner of a prosperous rice plantation." She was silent a minute. "Eli? You've never asked my exact age. Has Mother ever told you how old I am?"

"Why, yes, my dear, and that's another thing that worries me a little. I know you're twenty-four today and I had my forty-sixth birthday six months ago."

"I was afraid she'd told you her 'very tiny, righteous white lie' as she calls it."

"A lie, Abby?"

"I'm not actually twenty-four today. I'm twenty-six.. But Mother insists on telling everyone I'm still twenty-four."

Eli didn't laugh often, but he laughed now. "Well, good, I say! That makes you only twenty years younger than I!"

"What difference could age possibly make? And I'm glad you laughed when I told you about Mother's tiny, righteous lie."

"Never worry your lovely head about your mother and me," he said. "I think I rather understand the lady. When things aren't exactly as she wants them to be, she simply re-creates them."

"I--I love your laugh, Eli, but I also love you for seeing through Mother. She's really very sweet and good in her heart. But you're exactly right about her. My wonderful father used to whisper that now and then Mother rather enjoyed playing God. You've made me see that's when she's--re-creating as you say."

"Are you at all concerned that your mother will change her mind at the last minute and decide to move to Darien, Georgia, with us, Abby?"

"No!" She snapped out the word. "No, she wouldn't dream of moving to such a small town after a lifetime in Boston. Nearby Savannah maybe, but never Darien! Would she?"

"How would I possibly know that?"

"Because you know so much about everything. It truly amazes me that a man could be so gloriously handsome and attractive as you and still be so wise about all of life. Does being so wise make me seem young and foolish, Eli?"

He laughed again. "I'm not that wise, my sweet Abby, and you'll find out for yourself as soon as you see me, a Northern businessman all my life, trying to learn how to run anything so foreign as a coastal rice plantation. My lawyer has given up trying to change my mind, but he's convinced I'll fail as the master of a rice plantation--says it's much more difficult than growing cotton."

"Oh, I know. You told me what he said, but he's dead wrong. Your slaves will adore you, and since slaves come with the property you've bought, they must already know all about planting and shelling rice--or whatever you do with it."

She'd made him laugh again. "You plant it, my dear Abby, but I'm not so sure about the shelling part!"

"Oh, you will be. You're going to be sure about everything and don't you dare ask your other question again. It's all worn out. I won't miss Boston social life. I really don't like it nearly enough to suit Mother and I plan to be so happy living with you in our manor house that I'll probably forget there ever was such a thing as a theater performance or a concert once we're alone together. And I know that someday we'll have a splendid manor house, so you don't have to remind me again that we'll have to be content in a smaller house in Darien for a few years. We'll be together, I'll be Mrs. Eli Edward Allyn, and, for the first time, my life will lack absolutely nothing!"

Still holding the reins, he turned toward her on the buggy seat. "Abby, are you sure? Are you truly, truly sure? What if I fail? What if I'm just not cut out to operate a rice plantation? What if I grow old too fast in the trying? What if you don't find any friends you're at home with in that strange little town of Darien, Georgia?"

"Hush, Eli! Don't say another word. Just help me down out of this buggy and take me in the house so you can kiss me."

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What People are saying about this

Rosalynn Carter
Eugenia Price has made history comne to life through the lives of her characters. She has a rare talent, and we consider her to be one of our country's greatest authors.

Meet the Author

Eugenia Price's beloved novels of the antebellum South showcase her gift of touching the past, as if with a wand, to make it live again. And the men and women in these books, many of whom really lived along the Georgia-Florida shores, capture our hearts with their struggle, their courage, and their spirit.

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