Things We Once Held Dear

( 2 )

Overview

The foundations of Neil Sadler's small-town life had been rocked by the suspicious death of Helen Syfert, the mother of Neil's friend Mary. Years later, living and working in New York City, Neil struggles to recover from a more recent loss. Intent on repairing his shattered world, Neil returns to his hometown of Mason, Ohio, where he reconnects with Mary.

Their once-close relationship hadn't been strong enough to survive the tragedy that overtook Mary's family, yet what drove ...

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Things We Once Held Dear

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Overview

The foundations of Neil Sadler's small-town life had been rocked by the suspicious death of Helen Syfert, the mother of Neil's friend Mary. Years later, living and working in New York City, Neil struggles to recover from a more recent loss. Intent on repairing his shattered world, Neil returns to his hometown of Mason, Ohio, where he reconnects with Mary.

Their once-close relationship hadn't been strong enough to survive the tragedy that overtook Mary's family, yet what drove them apart years ago now seems to be drawing them back together. The mystery of Helen's death remains unsolved. To bring closure will mean facing old truths-hard truths-and discovering some new ones.

Praise for Things We Once Held Dear

"...a treasure for people who enjoy a literary yet unpretentious read." -- RT Bookclub

"A terrific inspirational....Ann Tatlock inspires her audience with her deft touch." -- Midwest Book Review

"Tatlock...is a superb storyteller. Things We Once Held Dear is a skillfully rendered tale of restoration and hope." -- Susan Meissner, Armchair Interviews.com

"[Tatlock] creates a vividly immersive world... It's beautiful, amazing writing... a truly enjoyable and refreshing experience... Recommended." -- Tim Frankovich, Christian Fiction Review.com

"Terrific inspirational that uses a tragic mystery and more recent traumas to paint a tale of a Doubting Thomas..." -- Harriet Klausner, The Best Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Susan Meissner
"Tatlock does an admirable job of creating resolution without resorting to stock solutions that a lesser writer might have chosen... [She] is a superb storyteller. Things We Once Held Dear is a skillfully rendered tale of restoration and hope."
Armchair Interviews.com
Harriet Klausner
"[A] terrific inspirational that uses a tragic mystery and more recent traumas to paint a tale of a Doubting Thomas whose only shred of belief is that God is testing or simply punishing him if he exists. As Neil and Mary reconnect they look back at what happened to break them apart. Hooked grateful fans will wonder whether Neil will find salvation with the Lord, what did occur years ago, and what will happen between Mary and him. Ann Tatlock inspires her audience with her deft touch."
The Best Reviews
Tim Frankovich
"[Tatlock] creates a vividly immersive world. Mason and its inhabitants come alive in complex ways, creating a firm foundation of believability for the story. The background detail is immense and well-crafted.... It's beautiful, amazing writing.... a truly enjoyable and refreshing experience... Recommended."
Christian Fiction Review.com
RT Bookclub
"With a deft and gentle hand, Tatlock unwinds the tangle of a grieving heart to expose simple faith. This is a treasure for people who enjoy a literary yet unpretentious read."
Midwest Book Review
"This is a terrific inspirational that uses a tragic mystery and more recent traumas to paint a tale of a Doubting Thomas whose only shred of belief is that God is testing or simply punishing him if he exists. As Neil and Mary reconnect they look back at what happened to break them apart. Hooked grateful fans will wonder whether Neil will find salvation with the Lord, what did occur years ago, and what will happen between Mary and him. Ann Tatlock inspires her audience with her deft touch."
Publishers Weekly
Like an artist working with small chips of colored glass, Christy Award-winning novelist Tatlock takes multiple characters and fragments of their stories and pieces them together into a tranquil mosaic of commitment, faith, love and homecoming. When artist Neil Sadler's wife dies suddenly in New York City, he is drawn back to Mason, Ohio, the hometown that he fled almost three decades before. He spends the summer helping remodel an old "Gothic Horror" farmhouse into a bed-and-breakfast, trying to reconnect with his past and his cousin Mary Beeken. After a childhood spent caring for an invalid mother, Mary is trapped in a 23-year-old marriage to a troubled, alcoholic cop and feels her life has never quite gotten started. Mary's mother's murder years earlier and questions of innocence and guilt cast shadows on the lives of several Mason families. As Neil and Mary try to make sense of what has happened to their lives, they both discover that "[y]ou don't have to understand something completely to know it's true." Tatlock moves back and forth between different characters and earlier time periods, sometimes confusingly so. But Tatlock is one of Christian fiction's better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781938499814
  • Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
  • Publication date: 4/12/2013
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I tapped out my first stories on my grandfather's old manual typewriter in the summer of 1973. I studied English and theology in college and later went on to earn my master's degree in journalism from Wheaton College Graduate School. I worked as a writer and editor for Decision magazine from 1987-1992, when I left to pursue fiction writing fulltime. I find great satisfaction in my work, and I especially enjoy hearing from my readers. In addition to writing, I also teach at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and online through the Christian Writers Guild.
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Read an Excerpt



Things We Once Held Dear



By Ann Tatlock


Bethany House Publishers


Copyright © 2006

Ann Tatlock

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7642-0004-6



Chapter One


September 16, 2002. Harrington-Glasser Day School
in Manhattan. Neil returned to his office after
teaching a first-period Fundamentals of Art class
to a group of freshmen and found the message light
flashing on his telephone.

"I'm not feeling well," Caroline said. "I'm going
home to bed. I'll see you there tonight."

She rarely left work simply because she wasn't
feeling well. She hated the idleness of bed rest.
She pushed herself in spite of coughs, colds, and
fevers to get up and go down to the agency, or at
least to plug in the laptop and work at home. What
in the world would send her to bed in the middle
of the morning?

He reached for the handset, dialed his home
number. She picked up on the fourth ring, just
before the answering machine kicked in.

"Hello?" Her voice was heavy, knocking against his
ear like a rock.

"I'll come home," he said.

"No, no. It's just the flu. Nothing you can do. I
have a pounding headache, and I can't think
straight. I only want to rest."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes." A heavy sigh. "Yes, I'm sure."

"Maybe you should call the doctor, just to see-"

"No. Go back to work and let me sleep."

He hung up the phone uneasily, then pushed through
the rest of the morning and afternoon with a sense
of dread.

It was shortlyafter five o'clock when he finally
reached Brooklyn. He got off the subway at the
Bergen Street stop as usual and walked to Warren,
where his and Caroline's house stood shoulder to
shoulder with the row of other houses that
straddled the block from Court to Smith. Normally
he loved this path over the buckled tree-lined
sidewalk, past the stoops of elegant old houses,
aging like fine wine. This was where an artist
should live, of course. It was part of the image
that Neil had tossed easily about his shoulders
when he'd first arrived in New York as a youth,
green and destitute, talented and determined. "I
am no longer a small-town boy,"
he'd said to
himself. "I am a New York artist." And he'd
slipped into the image like a man shrugging into a
down jacket, and it fit him comfortably and at
once.

But none of that mattered now, today, when
Caroline was sick. Neil hurried up the steps to
his front door and unlocked it. When he pushed
open the door and stepped inside, he was greeted
by an ominous silence and the stench of sickness.
Upstairs, Caroline lay semiconscious on the bed in
their darkened room, strands of her long hair
caked with vomit. Neil rushed to her side and
touched her cheek. Her skin was hot and moist, and
she moaned against the weight of his hand.

"Caroline," he whispered.

She didn't open her eyes. He reached for the phone
beside the bed, and in moments the expected siren
split the air and Neil met the paramedics at the
door. He pointed up the stairs. Though laden with
their stretcher and equipment, the paramedics
lumbered up swiftly, feet pounding against the
hardwood floor.

When they saw her, they remained expressionless
and moved quickly. Neil, the helpless spectator,
hung back and watched from the doorway. What did
he know of medicine and illness and emergencies?

They lifted her gently, carried her down the
stairs and out the door to the ambulance
double-parked there on Warren Street. Neil
followed in a dazed numbness, unaware of the
neighbors, the children who paused in their game
of hopscotch, the mothers who, arms crossed, stood
in open doorways watching the commotion, the
whirling ambulance light a beacon of foreboding on
their street.

Neil rode with Caroline in the ambulance the short
distance to Long Island College Hospital. LICH, it
was called: the "Litch." Four blocks away and he'd
never even been inside. He gazed at Caroline's
ashen face beneath the oxygen mask, listened
dumbly to the paramedic calling ahead to the
emergency room.

In only a moment they stopped abruptly and the
ambulance doors flung open. Someone was shouting,
"Come on, come on! Let's move it!"

Neil, feeling awkward and peripheral, tumbled out
the back doors and watched as Caroline was whisked
away by white jackets and pale green uniforms.

Once inside, he hurried to keep up but was
intercepted by a woman at the desk.

"Are you family?"

"I'm her husband."

Neil felt a clipboard thrust into his hands.

"Please fill these out and return them-"

He cursed, shaken. "My wife is sick, and I have to
sit here filling out forms?"

"We need the information," the woman explained
with a look that said, "Let the doctors do their
job, and you do yours." Aloud she said, "You'll be
able to join your wife shortly."

He wanted to be at Caroline's side, but after all,
what could he do? He would have to entrust his
wife into the care of strangers. He took a seat in
one of the vinyl chairs, one of the little black
row houses in the city of the waiting room. He
gazed dully at the clipboard on his lap. He rubbed
his eyes, forced himself to read. Caroline's name,
address, birth date, age, health history,
insurance number. His hand trembled as he wrote.

He looked at his watch. 5:46 pm. Before he had
even finished filling out the forms, a doctor was
there, hand extended, introducing himself, looking
grim.

"Your wife is very ill," he said. "We suspect
meningitis."

"Suspect?"

"A spinal tap will tell us for certain. The
important thing right now is to relieve the
pressure on her brain. We did a scan which showed
significant swelling...."

The doctor rambled on. Neil knew the man was
talking; he could see his mouth move, knew that
words were tumbling from it that made no sense at
all.

"... highly contagious, so we will begin you on a
round of antibiotics...."

Neil started, forced himself to become engaged in
this absurd conversation. "Me?" he cried. "Forget
about me! It's my wife-I want my wife to get
better!"

"Of course. We're doing everything we can."

"Is she going to be all right?"

"We're doing everything we can."

Is there nothing else he can say? Neil wondered.
"I want to see my wife."

"Of course. She's been moved to intensive care.
I'll have a nurse show you to the room."

A walk down a long corridor of bright lights and
dull colors. Then, Caroline in the ICU, a figure
shrouded in white linen, intubated, monitored, her
slumbering body the tiny battleground of a
microscopic war. One plastic tube entered her
sloping mouth and disappeared down her throat.
Another tube snaked down her nose while a tangle
of IV bottles dripped medications-Neil didn't
know what-directly into a spot under her
collarbone. She was surrounded by machines that
kept tabs on the numbers, spewing out the war
news: heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature,
oxygen saturation, blood pressure.

Neil sank into the chair beside the bed and took
Caroline's hand.

"Caroline," he whispered, "can you hear me? I'm
here, sweetheart."

There was no answer, no indication at all that she
was aware of his presence.

Neil stared at his wife uncomprehendingly. He had
seen her walk out the door just that morning. He
had seen her leave for work less than twelve hours
ago. What was she doing here with all these
monitors, these tubes, these substances running
into her body, trying to keep it functioning when
last he saw her it had been functioning just fine
on its own? Only last night the two of them had
been remembering their time in London, said they
really ought to go back, yes, let's think about
going back next summer....

Neil didn't know that something like this could
happen, that it was even possible. But no, that
wasn't true. He knew of course, at some level. He
knew such things happened; he read about them, saw
them, shook his head at them. A person didn't have
to live long before he knew. There was that time
he caught the F train at Bergen Street, and by the
time the subway stopped again, two minutes later,
he'd seen the man across the car from him crumple
to the floor, dead of a heart attack. Another
time, that young woman crossing the street,
jaywalking on Atlantic Avenue, was struck by a
car, blood everywhere. And only a year ago he and
Caroline had stood on the roof of their house and
looked out toward Manhattan, saw the smoke rising
into an empty sky where, just hours before, two
towers had stood.

He knew, of course. He knew. But what man lives in
the day-to-day with the expectation of disaster?

At some point a spinal tap was done. "Yes," the
doctor said, "she has bacterial meningitis.
Meningococcal meningitis, the most serious kind.
Not necessarily fatal-"

"Not necessarily?"

"Some people do survive."

But, Neil understood him to mean, most people
don't.

Their objective right now was to push the
antibiotics and fluids, to keep the blood pressure
stable, to avoid the collapse of the circulatory
system, the shutting down of the body's systems.

Neil, left alone once more with Caroline, wondered
what to do and was horrified to think there was
nothing at all he could do. If she lived, it
wouldn't be because of him, and if she died, it
wouldn't be because of him. He had no control at
all. He could only watch and wait.

Evening sank down to night, and Neil didn't move.
The night grew dark, and the nurses came and went,
and after an eternity a sliver of gray dawn
touched the window, but still Neil didn't move. He
didn't eat or sleep. He simply kept vigil, waiting
and watching, his terror so deep it sometimes left
him breathless.

Another shift change, a new face at the bedside.
"Why don't you go home and rest awhile, Mr.
Sadler?"

"No, I have to stay."

She slunk away on squeaking shoes. He didn't
notice, didn't care.

"Open your eyes, Caroline."

The day wore on. Later Neil would learn that his
students at Harrington-Glasser sat waiting for
him, wondering why he didn't show up for class.
But for now, for Neil, they didn't exist. He
forgot to call the school, forgot to call the ad
agency where Caroline worked. Everything that had
mattered yesterday didn't matter today. He watched
Caroline's face, waiting for a flicker of
movement, a sign of life.

Finally his own eyes began to close; in his
exhaustion he drifted into a place of strange
dream images. He fought to stay awake but nodded,
reluctantly, into sleep. And for that reason, when
the alarm went off on one of the monitors, it was
all the more jolting, sending Neil into a panic.

A sudden rush of people spewed into the room.
Someone grabbed Neil by the arm, moved him away
from the bed. He swayed on his feet, watching in
horror. Another dream image, or were these voices,
these people, real?

"Blood pressure?"

"Ninety over fifty-eight."

A white blur of movement ...

"Heart rate?"

"Fifteen and dropping."

"Get the line moving!"

"The fluids are-"

"We're losing her!"

"Blood pressure?"

"Eighty-two over forty."

"Stay with us, stay...."

"Dropping."

"Try again!"

"I can't get a-"

"Blood pressure? Blood pressure!"

A distant murmuring, then human voices giving way
to the slow and steady whine of the machine.

Flat line.

Forever Neil would remember how his own heart was
beating wildly at the very moment Caroline's heart
stopped.

(Continues...)





Excerpted from Things We Once Held Dear
by Ann Tatlock
Copyright © 2006 by Ann Tatlock.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 31, 2014

    This book started off slow but as you kept going you realize tha

    This book started off slow but as you kept going you realize that you've come to "know" the characters.  The mystery of who killed Helen tore family and friends apart.  Now that they are older, and are "back home" where they grew up/ got older, more is revealed  about Helen's death.  There is a bitter-sweet romance, in fact, there are a few of them- but sometimes things are better left alone.  Sometimes you have to let go of what you thought was true.  And sometimes you have to hang on to what you KNOW is true because everything else tells you different.  Sometimes you have to accept that life turned out the way it did because a Higher Power deemed it so and that it is for the best.  There were a few "wow, didn't see THAT coming" moments.  I was given a copy of this book for my honest review.  It was worth the read.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific inspirational

    Almost three decades ago, Neil Sadler left Mason, Ohio following a suspicious looking death in which the locals including his beloved friend Mary Beeken hold him culpable though the law did not. He vowed never to return home and successfully forged a new life. Twenty-seven years later, Neil mourns the sudden loss of his wife with an obsession to go home to learn what really happened that drove him away though he doubts the welcome reception even after all this time that has past. --- Mary has also come home to Mason looking for solace. Her life is not a happy one as her husband, a battle fatigue syndrome cop, takes out his frustrations and anger on her. Neil is shocked that he still desires Mary with the tragedy hanging over their heads and some more recent baggage to keep them apart. Already doubting God and feeling sorry for himself, he begins to wonder if he is the modern day Job as he knows he can never have his Mary even if she loves and believes in him. --- This is a terrific inspirational that uses a tragic mystery and more recent traumas to paint a tale of a Doubting Thomas whose only shred of belief is that God is testing or simply punishing him if he exists. As Neil and Mary reconnect they look back at what happened to break them apart. Hooked grateful fans will wonder whether Neil will find salvation with the Lord, what did occur years ago, and what will happen between Mary and him. Ann Tatlock inspires her audience with her deft touch. --- Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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