Whitson, Stephanie Grace (Irvin) 1952-
WHITSON, Stephanie Grace (Irvin) 1952-
PERSONAL: Born 1952, in East St. Louis, IL; married Robert Whitson, 1973 (died 2001); children: four. Education: Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, B.A. (French), 1973.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Thomas Nelson, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000.
CAREER: Writer. Owner of Prairie Pieceworks, Inc.
"PRAIRIE WINDS" SERIES
Walks the Fire, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1995.
Soaring Eagle, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1996.
Red Bird, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1997.
"KEEPSAKE LEGACIES" SERIES
Sarah's Patchwork, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1998.
Karyn's Memory Box, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1999.
Nora's Ribbon of Memories, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1999.
"DAKOTA MOONS" SERIES
Valley of the Shadow, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2000.
Edge of the Wilderness, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2001.
Heart of the Sandhills, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 2002.
"PINE RIDGE PORTRAITS" SERIES
Secrets on the Wind, Bethany House (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Stephanie Grace Whitson was inspired to write her first book, Walks the Fire, when she was teaching a Nebraska history unit to her home-schooled children. Protagonist Jesse King was a result of Whitson's research into the lives of pioneer Nebraska women whose diaries and remembrances she read. In the book, the first in Whitson's "Prairie Winds" series, Jesse loses her husband and son on the trail after they leave Illinois to travel west. She is captured by the Sioux, and becomes accepted into the tribe. At the same time, a missionary who stops at a fur-trading post in Nebraska treats a wounded brave, who then accompanies the missionary for the remainder of his journey to Oregon, on the way learning English and the Bible. Eventually Jesse and the minister meet in this Christian romance. Booklist's John Mort noted that Jesse's faith and hardships "seem real enough, and Whitson takes considerable care in her evocation of the Lakota Sioux."
The second title in Whitson's "Keepsake Legacies" series is Karyn's Memory Box, about a mail-order bride from Germany who moves to Nebraska to wed Mikal Ritter, a farmer who lives in a sod house and whose life is more rustic than Karyn had expected. Their marriage is not consummated, but they are connected by their religious devotion. Eventually Karyn accepts that she loves Mikal, and they truly become man and wife. In a Library Journal review, Melissa Hudak called the characters "charming" and the story a "sparkling romantic tale."
Valley of the Shadow is the first book of the "Dakota Moons" series. Genevieve "Gen" LaCroix, the eighteen-year-old daughter of a Sioux mother and a French father, is sent to live with a missionary couple. She becomes close to Ellen Dane, who is based on Mary Ann Longley Riggs, an actual Minnesota settler, but is distrustful of Ellen's husband Simon, because she senses that the Reverend Dane has no respect for Indian customs. Ellen dies in giving birth to her third child, and many of the white settlers are killed by the Sioux. Gen risks her life to save the two surviving Dane children, and the minister later confesses that he has fallen in love with her. "His transformation from a removed, austere patriarch to a loving, emotive nurturer is surprisingly convincing," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, who also noted that Whitson is clear in depicting the acts committed against the Native Americans by Europeans, "without losing sight of the settlers' complicated, and often benevolent, motives."
The second book of this series is Edge of Wilderness. Genevieve believes Daniel Two Stars to be dead after they are separated during the 1862 Dakota Sioux uprising in Minnesota. Although she does not love him, she decides to marry Simon Dane, thinking that their faith will bring them closer. Simon, however, knows that Daniel is alive and working to mend the relationship between the Dakota and the settlers. Daniel turns to God to sustain him as he mourns for Genevieve. Library Journal's Melanie C. Duncan called this novel "a historical romance for all collections."
In Heart of the Sandhills Gen and Daniel are finally married and farming on Minnesota land owned by Jeb Grant, whose neighbors protest his having "savages" working the place. When Jeb gives in to his neighbors' demands, Daniel becomes discontented and takes a job as an army scout, resulting in his separation from Gen. A series of events threatens their marriage and happiness, beginning with Daniel's being seriously injured in a skirmish with hostile Sioux. A Publishers Weekly contributor called this third installment "a well-written tale of mid-nineteenth-century life in the sand hills of Minnesota."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1995, John Mort, review of Walks the Fire, p. 1725.
Library Journal, June 1, 1999, Melissa Hudak, review of Karyn's Memory Box, p. 96; June 1, 2001, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Edge of Wilderness, p. 136.
Publishers Weekly, November 27, 2000, review of Valley of the Shadow, p. 52; December 3, 2001, review of Heart of the Sandhills, p. 41.
Stephanie Grace Whitson Web site,http://www.stephaniewhitson.com (April 26, 2003).*