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It was 1877 when Tabitha Hall Chadwick left Manti as a young bride. Now, nearly seven years later, she returns as a widow with her young son to make a new beginning. Tabitha's strained relationship with her mother-in-law adds more difficulty to her life as a single working mother. Yet with a stroke of courage, Tabitha makes two purchases that become her passions: the local newspaper business and a traumatized horse.
As she struggles to meet the challenges of her new roles, Tabitha welcomes the friendship of Samuel, a recently widowed British immigrant. Working together to train the abused horse, the two discover a second chance at love. But when Samuel is critically injured during the construction of the Manti Temple, Tabitha faces the pain of old wounds and the risk of new ones.
Weaving themes of loss and renewal, this poignant tale explores a vital choice each of us must make: to seek safety in isolation or to embrace the painful yet beautiful complexities of life and love..
See also House on the Hill, At the Journey's End, and Spires of Stone, volumes one, two and three in Annette Lyon's Temple Series.
- Published: March 2009
- Pages: 336
- Size: 6" x 9"
About the Author
Annette Lyon, the 2007 Best of State medalist for fiction in Utah, has been writing for most of her life. While she’s found success in magazine and business writing, her true passion is fiction. She graduated cum laude from BYU with a BA in English. She served on the Utah Valley chapter board for the League of Utah Writers for three years, including one as president.
COALVILLE, UTAH—AUGUST 1877
Fred headed out for another day at the mine before the sun crested the nearby hills. He strode through the chilly streets, feeling giddy and hardly noticing the houses and business he passed. For once the cold didn’t bother him, and the walk to the mine flew by. Fred’s mind whirled.
I might be a father soon. Already!
His wife Tabitha had just sent him off with that bit of news, and now his feet hardly touched earth. At twenty-eight, he was far older than most men when they got married. But I had to wait for my bride to grow up. He smiled. And Tab was worth the wait. They had a ten-year age difference, but somehow, when they were together, the years melted away, and he felt at home.
When he reached the mine, he went inside with the other men, holding a lantern in front of him to guide the way through the narrow passages. The stale air and dank walls met him like an unwelcome but oh-too-familiar friend. Regardless, he still wore a smile on his face that even the chilly tunnels couldn’t erase.
Reaching the section where he was assigned, he set down the lantern and got to work. He was part of the team that constructed the interior supports, attaching beams together to hold up the walls and prevent cave-ins.
Holding a mallet in one hand, he rubbed the base of his back with the other. His muscles cried out in protest from yesterday’s work, but his mind kept returning to home. If Tab was going to have a baby, they should move back to Sanpitch County right away. Her family would want them to be close by. And he’d find some way to keep his mother from meddling in their affairs and continually insulting his sweet wife. He hadn’t realized it until after the wedding, but now he recognized that a good part of his mother’s objection to Tabitha had probably resulted from the inheritance he’d received four years ago from his uncle, which had provided some money for his mother until he married.
No wonder no girl was ever good enough for me in Mother’s eyes.
Except for Betty Hunsaker, a woman Fred had courted briefly when he was much younger, a woman who had been married for several years already. His mother always sang her praises.
“Too bad you missed out on marrying her,” his mother said often. “She would have been a real catch.”
He breathed out heavily and got to work. Would Tabitha be willing to buy that piece of land in Ephraim this soon? Even without a baby on the way, he didn’t know if he’d be able to stand an entire year here in Coalville as they had originally agreed. Tabitha had wanted a full year far away from Manti—and from his mother. The days were long beneath the surface, withrarely seeing daylight—or his new bride. Leaving Coalville would be a welcome change.
But he wouldn’t mention it quite yet; he’d wait a little longer and see how she felt. He’d stay as long as Tab wanted to. They had left Manti for a reason, and he wouldn’t take Tabitha back until she was ready.
He finished shoring up the walls of one section of the tunnel and moved on to the next. In spite of himself, Fred kept checking his pocket watch. The hours crept by at a dreadful pace. He kept thinking about the light in Tabitha’s eyes when she had told him she was with child. A grin would likely stay on his face until he went home that night, until he could hold Tabitha in his arms again and they could celebrate the new life growing within her.
“Hall, you got the end of that beam?” Joe asked. His voice seemed disembodied, coming from just outside the glow of the lantern.
“Coming,” Fred said. He hefted the other end of the beam, and the two men carried it to the next spot on the tunnel wall that needed reinforcing. The two didn’t need to talk to communicate as they worked. In unspoken cooperation, Fred held his end of the wood in place above his head while Joe hammered spikes into the other end, turning it into a crossbeam.
Suddenly the ground trembled beneath Fred’s feet. The wood in his hands vibrated, and a shower of pebbles fell around his shoulders. A rumbling went through the earthen walls, reverberating throughout the entire tunnel.
A massive explosion boomed, sending a searing heat over Fred’s body. The force of the blast threw him across the tunnel and smacked him into the wall. Heavy rocks and broken beams collapsed on him.
The lanterns had gone black, making the tumbling rocks and cries for help seem even louder. The air was thick and hot. It choked back any cry coming from Fred’s throat. He tried to move; his body wouldn’t obey. He needed to cough but couldn’t get enough air through the strangling smoke and coal dust. Rocks and debris pinned his legs, which had gone numb. The sensation slowly crept uneasily up his torso.
After a few more labored breaths, Fred’s eyes slowly closed on their own, and the world began to fade.
Tab, he thought. Our baby. Oh, Tab.
Then all went still.
Best in the Series!
by Danyelle - reviewed on March 25, 2009
I totally enjoyed Tower of Strength. It's definitely my favorite in Annette Lyon's temple series!
by Heather - reviewed on March 31, 2009
I’ve been waiting for this next historical by Annette Lyon for over a year. Even though I read it in draft form, I was excited to read the final version. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, I can confidently say that Annette Lyon is one of the best writers in her genre. One thing I know is that Annette Lyon has learned the craft of writing, she understands the rules of fiction and she willing accepts feedback from alpha readers, editors, etc. Yet, she is able to produce such a natural story-telling style, that Tower of Strength runs seamless from scene to scene. In Tower of Strength, I really enjoyed the characters. Tabitha is widowed at a young age and moves to Logan (from Manti) in order to start over with her infant son. Six years later, she’s asked to return and take over the town newspaper in Manti. I loved the historical tie-ins that Lyon includes—from the prejudice of some of the town members of having a “woman” head up the newspaper, to the building of the Manti temple. Also impressive is the research that Lyon has done on this time period—to the common dialog phrases used at that time, to the clothing, the food, the thoughts and attitudes of some of the early settlers. I was most impressed with the complex characterization of Tabitha and how she comes to terms with falling in love again. Samuel, an emigrant from England, is a fun, jaunty character who has his own past and lost love to overcome. He provides a lot of comic relief during the story with his complete lack of ability to care for horses—which happens to be his job. Also, Tabitha’s mother-in-law, “Mother Hall”, is another favorite character in which the reader has a complete change of heart toward this woman by the end of the book. Overall, I’d highly recommend Lyon’s Tower of Strength, a nice anchor to her four-volume historical temple series.