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Piecework  Newsletter


Read the newsletters from Sandra Dallas for news about upcoming books, stories, Sandra's Picks and reviews:

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The Bride’s House To Be Published in May

Volume VI, Issue One | March 2011

The Bride’s House, the story of three generations of women who live in a Victorian house in Georgetown, Colo., is scheduled to be published in early May. Sandra’s tenth novel, The Bride’s House is set in an actual house that Sandra and her husband, Bob, purchased four years ago. Both the house’s restoration and the novel took three years to complete.

Here’s a capsule of the story: Young Nealie Bent arrives in Georgetown in 1880 to work as a hired girl and dreams of living in the Bride’s House with Will Spaulding, a wealthy mining engineer from the East, who takes her on long walks through the mountains, as well as to the theater and to the town’s finest restaurant. Will is not the only one who pursues Nealie. Charlie Dumas, a laborer, wants to marry her, and although Nealie rebuffs him, Charlie refuses to give up. Ultimately, Nealie must deal with lies, secrets, and heartache before she chooses who will give her the Bride’s House.

Pearl, Nealie’s daughter, is raised by a domineering father, who keeps the Bride’s House as a shrine to Nealie. Pearl is 30 and well on her way to becoming a spinster when she meets the enterprising Frank Curry. When Frank asks for Pearl’s hand in marriage, her father sabotages the union. But Pearl has inherited her mother’s tenacity of heart, and her father underestimates the lengths to which the women of the Bride’s House will go for love.

Susan is the last of the strong-willed women to live in the Bride’s House. She’s proud of the women who came before her. Their legacy and the Bride’s House secrets force Susan to question what she wants and who she loves.

Set amid the boom-and-bust history of a Colorado mining town, The Bride’s House brings to life an unforgettable era and three unforgettable women.

Sandra loves her own “bride’s house,” and she hopes you will love the book.


How I Wrote The Bride’s House

Two weeks after Bob and I bought what we call the 1881 Bullock House in Georgetown, Colorado, (we named it for its builder, Charles Bullock), my daughter Dana and I went to Turkey. I got the idea for the first section of The Bride’s House when I was sitting on a balcony in Istanbul, gazing out over a garden filled with fig trees to the sea (and decided I had to write this book just so I could tell how it came about.)

The idea for the second part came to me a year later on a bus in Fiesole, high above Florence, as we rode down a steep hill into the city. The third part, well, I should have taken another trip, because I went through half-a-dozen stories before I finally hit on one that worked. I finished the book just about the time we finished remodeling the house.


Sandra’s Picks

Hell’s Belles

By Clark Secrest. University Press of Colorado.

I’m doing research on the seamy side of Denver and pulled out my copy of Hell’s Belles, written by my old college buddy Clark Secrest. Now I know that not everybody is interested in the subject of prostitution. In fact, one reader emailed me recently to say that judging from my books, she thinks Colorado must have had more prostitutes than any other state. But Hell’s Belles, which I think is the best book ever done on prostitution in the West, is worth reading. First, it is a well researched and written social history; Clark worked for both The Denver Post and the Colorado Historical Society, and his expertise as both reporter and historian are obvious. In addition, Hell’s Belles is entertaining without being salacious. Prostitution was a fact of early Denver (and probably is of today’s Denver, too, but that’s beside the point.) I read such works as this because they are feminist history as well as western history. Okay, I admit it—and because they’re fascinating. I guess I am a bit of a voyeur.

Child of the Fighting Tenth: On the Frontier with the Buffalo Soldiers

By Forrestine C. Hooker. University of Oklahoma Press.

Forrestine Hooker—”Birdie” to everyone who knew her—grew up in 19th century military posts in the Southwest. Her father, a white officer who commanded a troop of African-Americans called Buffalo Soldiers, fought Indians, but he often made them his friends. The Commanche chief Quanah Parker was a frequent guest in the family home. A novelist in later life, Birdie writes with insight and affection about the Indians as well as the Buffalo Soldiers. But it’s the everyday incidents that make this book compelling, the practical jokes and kindnesses of the soldiers and their dependents. When the Indians incarcerated at one post were starving because corruption and government bungling had held up their rations, the soldiers pitched in and paid for food out of their own pockets.

Hooker’s description of a troop caught for days on the Staked Plains without water is as good an account as any soldier ever wrote. And her story of her own lost love, through pride and miscommunication, makes you wonder what “might have been.” But then if Birdie had married her sweetheart, she might not have written this wonderful book. –SD


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