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It is 1854, and Mary Ann Brean Chidester, age 46 and the seventh child in the Brean family, lives with her husband William John, age 48, on the Brean family farm run by her bachelor brother George at White Creek in Indiana. The Chidesters have had seven sons. Two are dead. Three have moved to Missouri and now have families of their own. Russell, 26, has a lame arm as a result of an accident and lives at home. And their youngest, 21 year old Lee William, has married Lucy Tate and after losing their first two sons now has a baby girl named Arial. William John is a schoolteacher, but the neighbors decide to close the local school.
Then one day, someone steals William John’s horse. He and Lucy’s father, Jubal Tate, track it to Missouri, and both men return to Indiana determined to move to Dogwood Creek, MO. So the whole family packs up for their new home. Four years pass. Lee William and Lucy have two more daughters, Amy and Anna Marie, but lose another baby son, Joseph. Then William John, who not only opens a school on Dogwood Creek but also begins to hold preaching services in the school on Sundays, dies quite suddenly, and MaryAnn becomes very bitter about having left her home in Indiana and now losing her husband. What will she and her family do? And will there ever be a grandson to carry on William John’s dreams? Set in the days leading up to the Civil War, this novel has a lot of discussion about the politics of the day in addition to the fascinating story of the Chidester family.
Apparently, the book is loosely based on the ancestors of the author Joy P. Gage’s father who was the seventh child of the seventh son of the seventh child. Also, the author’s great-grandmother was named MaryAnn. There is one reference to using tobacco, but a lot of emphasis is placed on praying to the Lord, reading the Bible, trusting in God, and learning to accept one’s circumstances. Be prepared to shed some tears, but you can expect a triumphant and satisfying conclusion. The other two books in the series are Lee William’s Quest and A Waiting Legacy. Perhaps a few areas of A Land of Heart’s Desire that are a little hard to follow will be explained a little more clearly in the sequels.