This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
I recently reviewed my fourth book by Cathy Gohlke, and I’ve loved every one of them! Today you are in for a treat because Cathy has offered to not only visit with us about her newest release, Until We Find Home, but also to give away a signed copy of the book! Our local book club had an opportunity to visit with Cathy via FaceTime last fall, and then I had the privilege of meeting her in person at the ACFW conference. She is such a dear lady, and I am excited to be able to introduce her to you today! But before we do, let’s take a quick peek at Until We Find Home.
For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.
With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing—spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends—has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.
Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.
Welcome, Cathy! How do you expect the novel, especially the struggles of your characters, to resonate with your audience?
Until We Find Home confronts fear and the lies we tell ourselves about our need to become worthy in order to be loved and valued. Freedom from our own demons, forgiveness (received and given), and redemption through Christ is available to all who believe.
Claire learns that repentance and belief opens a personal relationship with Christ (not simply a “legal transaction”) leading to the abundant life He died to give us. Miranda learns that dying with grace and dignity is not as important as learning to live in God’s grace. These were things I’ve had to learn in life, and I hope their journeys spill into the hearts of readers.
I also hope readers will ponder this:
World News reported that in 2015, 51% of the world’s refugees were children. The Scriptures tell us to care for widows and orphans. How do we do that from where we live, and as Christians, how do we reconcile that directive with the world’s reality?
Most of us live quiet lives, rarely making decisions that change the world. But what if we could change the life of one person by providing a home and family for them? How would we cope with the everydayness, not to mention the prejudice, public opinion, injustice, necessary sacrifice, and potential crisis? Would we do it? Will we?
There are no easy answers and the answers are not the same for everyone. But we have been made for hard things. Will we stand up or sit down?
I also hope that the writings of C. S. Lewis will be brought to the attention of readers who may not know him or who may want to revisit his books. His was a voice of reason in a terrifying time—a voice of integrity and purpose that is needed in our day.
Those are some tough questions which are certainly worth thinking about! Stories of wartime like Until We Find Home highlight the difficulty of living in uncertainty and dealing with the unexpected on a daily basis. How does faith play into this aspect of the novel and in the novel more generally?
Each day is a gift, not a guarantee. Each day offers us a new beginning to remain focused on what we can do, to stay in the moment with our eyes on the Giver of Life, rather than to cower, paralyzed because we don’t know how we’ll deal with tomorrow. This is faith that Claire learns—faith we all learn—to live in the present and surrender the future, and our worry for the future, to God. Knowing that not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s knowledge—and that we are more valuable than many sparrows—is a reminder that “God’s got this.” It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen—as Claire learned and Miranda knew. Jesus assured us that there will be trouble in this world. But the good news is that we don’t go it alone—He is with us, and He has overcome the world. Fear, as Claire learned, is a pinpoint in time, but faith is long term—eternity driven—and sees the bigger picture.
That’s such a great reminder! Fear can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if we know Christ. As an author, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved weaving the history of the location with the unusual characters I brought to it. Throughout much of my life I have felt like an outsider discovering new things, new places, even when living long in one location. I brought that sense of discovery to the book through my characters. I absolutely loved writing the children, their viewpoints, their resiliency, their antics. Their views are reminiscent of my own view of childhood and the imagination that thrived there. I loved connecting Claire’s thinking with childhood books that she’d loved. I do that—have always done that. There is, perhaps more of me in this book than any I have written. The opportunity to pour out my love for stories and children and home and family—even when family comes in forms we don’t expect—was great joy for me.
Since those were some of my favorite aspects of the story, it doesn’t surprise me that you enjoyed writing them. 🙂 Until We Find Home portrays the fear, pain, and anxiety of living in a time of war in a very personal way. Are there lessons from the struggles of those who lived through WWII that you think Christians need today?
We live in an uncertain and rapidly changing world. Fear, pain, and anxiety can all too easily become our unwelcome and constant companions. During WWII, people on Britain’s homefront struggled with fear of invasion from a cruel oppressor, pain over the loss and fear of losing loved ones serving overseas, and anxiety for everything from bombing, rationed food, shortages of petrol and fuel for warmth, to the fate of their nation and the world. Remarkably, with limited outside resources (cut off by Germany’s submarine warfare), Britain’s citizens pulled together, sacrificed, shared personal resources and made do through very difficult years. They were noted for taking in refugees from foreign countries, particularly the kindertransport of Jewish children. Though their faith was challenged, they worked hard to protect their shores and citizens, grow food for themselves and their soldiers, and even provided countless packages of clothing and supplies to starving Russians and others. I’ve been inspired by their willingness to dig in and help one another, rather than to cower in fear and hoard in possessiveness. Of course there were those who did not step up, and some who abused the systems in place, just as there are today. But I think those lessons of generosity, hard work, and determination to care for one another to the point of sacrifice are ones we can all take to heart and hand in these uncertain days.
Very true. What are some future projects you’re working on?
I’m currently writing a WWII novel that begins in Warsaw, Poland—such a different wartime experience than that of any other occupied country. This story was inspired by two courageous people, some real life events discovered through multiple research and news sources, and a Facebook message from a friend, all on separate occasions. It was as if the story was given to me piece by piece. From the very beginning it was a story I’ve felt compelled to write. It’s working title is The Medallion, and it will release in 2019.
That sounds like another wonderful story! Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us today, Cathy!
Your turn! Cathy weaves favorite children’s authors such as Beatrix Potter and Frances Hodgson Burnett into Until We Find Home. Who was one of your favorite children’s authors?
More about Cathy:
Three-time Christy, and two-time Carol and INSPY Award-winning author, Cathy Gohlke, writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren. Visit her website at www.cathygohlke.com and find her on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.
Until We Find Home Giveaway:
Cathy has generously offered to give away an autographed paperback copy of Until We Find Home. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.