Henderson House is not your typical boarding house. Mrs. Henderson has a sixth sense and she knows true love when she sees it. Long-time resident and self-proclaimed spinster, Bessie Blackwell, tingles, blushes, and stumbles when she meets new lodger Frank Davis. Bessie’s confidence grows as her budding romance with Frank begins to bloom. Bessie’s controlling sister, Florence, doesn’t want a school-girl crush getting in the way of her own plans. A dark family secret threatens Bessie’s chance at happiness and certainly will if Florence plays her cards right. Set against the history of Oolagah Indian Territory and the front porches and church suppers of Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1941, Henderson House explores the power of family stories to define us, limit us, and ultimately inspire us.
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My great-aunt, Beulah Taylor Allen, was the inspiration for Henderson House. Aunt "Boo Boo" was born in Oolagah Indian Territory in the 1890s, she worked at Phillips Petroleum in Bartlesville for most of her life, and she was an old maid living in a boarding house when a divorced man moved in and they fell in love. She was a member of First Baptist Church and never missed a Wednesday Night Supper. One member of the congregation I spoke to said, “Anytime the doors were unlocked, Beulah was in that church.” Aunt Boo Boo continued to teach Sunday School even after she went blind—quoting Scripture from memory. She lived to be almost one hundred years old.
Aunt Boo Boo was the inspiration, but the novel is a work of fiction. I created a boarding house, filled it with characters from my imagination, and let those characters play out the story they wanted to tell. Mrs. Henderson, in particular, was a driving force in the completion of this novel. Mrs. H. is the character who woke me up in the middle of the night. She demanded a larger role in the narrative. She guided me as to how she wanted the novel to end. I have heard writers talk about their characters taking over the reins, but this was the first time I experienced it for myself. It was truly exhilarating.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Henderson House. I hope you will pre-order a copy. Mrs. Henderson and I appreciate your support.