Forthcoming Fiction: Lonely Are the Brave, due April 2023
In 1919, scandal stirs Lumberton, a small (fictional) town amid the evergreens an hour outside Seattle, when war hero and widower Rollie Birch turns at-home father, and Kay Sorensen, the timber baron's daughter, dares defy her politician husband to pursue a business career.
Almost overnight, Rollie goes from town celebrity to pariah. Nobody will talk to him, gossips snicker that his infant daughter isn't his, and even his beloved sister wishes he'd give up his crazy idea. Meanwhile, Kay fears her tyrannical husband, running for office, will make her leave the job she loves, and wonders if his bizarre public attacks on Rollie, who served in his platoon during the war, somehow explain what's gone wrong in her marriage.
Discreetly, she begs Rollie to tell her what her husband did during the war, to which he reluctantly agrees, provided Kay reveal what she knows about his late wife's possible infidelity.
But trading wartime secrets has unexpected consequences, not least for fragile, lonely hearts and cherished beliefs—and the ensuing public storm threatens to destroy Kay and Rollie both.
Lonely Are the Brave revisits the 1919 tinderbox of Washington State, when independent thought was "un-American," and flag-waving reached dizzying heights of hypocrisy. The novel captures an era and a gorgeous landscape, portraying characters who push past boundaries and enact a satisfying drama about the nature of men and women. The story evokes today's struggles over gender roles, surely, but also how we use rumor to stoke hatred.