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Welcome to today’s stop on the Brother’s Path Virtual Tour. I am very pleased to have an exclusive excerpt for you so settle in to read and then check out more about the book, my thoughts on it and then enter the giveaway to win your own copy:
Excerpt 3/Martha Kennedy
The Brothers Path
Chapter 1, Rudolf, June 1524, continued from StoreyBook Reviews
As prayers were said over Verena’s grave, Andreas was digging a hole in the orchard for his little brother. When he finished, he sat on the pile of dirt and waited for Thomann.
“You should have come to the funeral, Andreas.”
“Very likely,” Andreas admitted. “I just don’t know why the old man couldn’t let our mother be.”
Thomann nodded. “She should have been past her time.”
“But she wasn’t. Father should have known that and considered the dangers.”
“Perhaps he didn’t know.”
“My God, Thomann! They lived together for more than thirty years! He must have known. Last time, when she miscarried, just last year, he was told! You were in the room yourself.”
“Yes. But, the old man has his way. You know that and I know that. We get nowhere like this, Andreas. Anger can never be God’s will.”
“No, it can’t.” Andreas sighed.
Thomann lifted the apple box. “Poor little one,” he said. “Never to see this beautiful, beautiful world.” The petals on the apple trees had shaken free in the wind, covering the spring grass in white and pink. A few had fallen on the baby. “There is your baptism, little brother,” he thought.
They slid the lid over the box and gently placed it in the hole. Because Andreas had done the work of digging, Thomann took the job of covering Rudolf.
“There,” he said, tamping down the dirt with the back of his shovel.
“We should mark it somehow,” said Andreas. “Here.” On the ground nearby, he found a stake used for supporting young trees and handed it to Thomann. “Pound this in. We can come back and put up a cross.”
Thomann set the stake at the end of the box where Rudolf’s head lay and pounded it in with the back of his shovel so only a few inches rose above the ground. “That should do it. Say a prayer, Andreas. You’re better at it than I.”
“Heavenly Father, who knows better than we the reasons for things, please care for our little brother, Rudolf, who spent only a few minutes in this world, not long enough to harm anyone or anything. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
The brothers stood in silence for a few minutes before brushing the dirt from their leggings. They kicked their clogs against a tree, startling the mud from the bottoms, and walked down the hill to join the neighborly meal that traditionally followed a funeral. When they got to the courtyard, people were seating themselves at long tables.
Andreas and Thomann sat down with the family, expecting an angry look from their father, but Verena’s death, and his part in it, had taken something from Old Johann. He was suddenly an old man. He stood up slowly.
“Thank you for being here. Thank you for standing with me at the funeral of my wife, Verena.” A lump rose in his throat. He had loved Verena from the first moment he saw her when she was barely 13. She was just 14 when they married. Within the year, their first son, Heinrich, was born, then poor Andreas the first, who died at age two, and then one boy after another over the years, nine in all, counting little Rudolf. He knew his sons could not understand why he, an old man, and she, an old woman, still desired each other. He hoped that their lives would give all of them a similar love.
He took a deep breath to make the memories disappear. “Our family has, for generations, recited a psalm every morning before beginning our work. I would like to share it with you and with my sons who are here and perhaps, too, with Verena, my poor dead boys and the small Rudolf whom the Church said could not be buried with his mother. Perhaps they hear us and know that we love them.”
None of Old Johann’s sons could believe what they were hearing. Was this the same hard old man, the strict father who met backtalk from his sons with a hard slap across the mouth?
“My sons.” Old Johann motioned for them to stand up. “Everyone.” Heinrich, Hannes, Thomann and Andreas stood. Old Johann began, and they recited together, “Bless The Lord, O my soul, O Lord my God, Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain, who layeth the beams of his chambers in the water; who maketh the clouds his chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the wind.”
The old man sat heavily in his chair, his mind filled with questions. Andreas said that Rudolf was in Heaven; Hannes said he could not be. Who was right? Old Johann had chosen to ignore the changes filling his world, but now change had been lain on his doorstep.
“Father, come,” said Thomann, offering his arm to Old Johann after all the guests had gone. “I’ll show you where we buried Rudolf.” The two walked slowly up the hill behind their house to the apple orchard, which had helped support their family for generations.
“Would that Andreas had cared for his soul,” he said, his red eyes rimmed with tears.
“Father, Rudolf is with our mother in Heaven, even if he is not beside her in the graveyard. You do not need to worry about his soul.”
“How do you know that, Thomann? Hannes says the baby is in Limbo.”
“Andreas is right. There is nothing in the Bible about Limbo. There is nothing to say that a baby who has not been baptized will not have eternal life with our Lord.”
“The Bible? And you have read the Bible?”
“Pastor Zwingli speaks on the Bible every Sunday and reads from it in our language,” Thomann replied. “Others, too, speak on different questions. Many are very interested in this question of baptizing infants. They say it’s wrong, sinful. They also say that demanding money for prayers is theft. They tell us how the church in Rome is very rich from preying on the superstition and fear of well-meaning people.”
“The Church has been with us since time began. How could it be so wrong? And tell me, why is your Pastor Zwingli just finding out now?”
“The Church has been in trouble with itself for a long time. Even Conrad’s old songs tell of the Pope taking our money and leaving us poor. Here it is, Father.” Old Johann looked down at the small mound of earth.
“Did you at least say a prayer for him, Thomann, you and Andreas? Or does your Pastor Zwingli say prayer is no longer needed?”
“Yes, we prayed for him. God hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s where He has always been. Shall we say a prayer for Rudolf together, Father?”
Old Johann nodded. “Help me down, boy.” With Thomann’s help, the old man knelt on the apple-blossom covered earth of the orchard. “Oh Lord,” he said, “forgive me.”
The Brothers Path by Martha Kennedy
Publisher: Free Magic Show Productions (July 4, 2016)
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: Oct/Nov, 2016
Available in: Print & ebook, 276 Page
By award winning author, Martha Kennedy.
The world-shattering tumult of the Protestant Reformation enters the Schneebeli household when Rudolf Schneebeli is born two months early and dies a few minutes later without being baptized. Named for the well trodden track linking the Schneebeli farmhouse to the old Lunkhofen castle, The Brothers Path is set in a Swiss village near Zürich, between 1524 and 1531. It chronicles the lives of the six Schneebeli brothers, Heinrich, Hannes, Peter, Conrad, Thomann and Andreas. Each brother navigates his own path through, around or directly into the deadly drama of the Protestant reformation.
Two hundred years after the events recounted in The Brothers’ Path, thousands of immigrants, mostly Mennonites and Amish, left Switzerland for America looking for safety and freedom they could not find at home. If the novel teaches a “lesson” it would be a reminder why immigrants to America were adamant about separating church and state.
Praise for The Brothers Path by Martha Kennedy
“A remarkable historical novel that follows the lives of a group of brothers in Reformation Switzerland as they struggle with their various beliefs while winning and losing family battles. I have read a previous book by this author, Martin of Gfenn, and am preparing to read her Savior. I am not usually a fan of histories, especially those dealing with crises of faith, but this author has found the secret of bringing these times and people alive. I enjoy her writing, and am humbled by learning what religion has wrought in this world for many times before our own.”-Amazon Reviewer
“I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Brothers Path’. Written about a pivotal time in our religious history, this was an interesting look at a large family who each had different opinions of the new Protestant thoughts presented to the population. Being a free thinker was quite new and families stretched as a result. This is a well written look at a very unique historical time in our history.”-R. Hueftle, Amazon Reviewer
“This beautifully and sensitively written book is the third of author Martha Kennedy’s historical novels set near Zurich, Switzerland. The story, which takes place in the 1520s, chronicles the lives, loves, and passions of the six Schneebeli brothers, whose changing and differing religious beliefs clash as the Protestant Reformation, promoted in the Swiss cantons by Ulrich Zwingli, sweeps through their lives.
The book begins with the premature birth of baby Rudolf Schneebeli into the Catholic Schneebeli family, and his death minutes later before he can be baptized. The fact that a beloved child must be buried, unbaptised, in unsanctified ground, begins the book and serves as a catalyst for remarkable changes within the family as some brothers are inspired to follow Zwingli’s new religion while others hold their Catholicism dear. The issue reverberates throughout the book to the last sentence, highlighting the complexities in people’s lives brought on by religious change.
Kennedy not only provides a picture of what the Reformation must have been like on a personal level, but her rendering of what the daily life of the Schneebeli family was probably like rounded out a very satisfying read.”-SusannahReads, Amazon Reviewer
About Martha Kennedy
Award winning author, Martha Kennedy has published three works of historical fiction. Her first novel, Martin of Gfenn, which tells the story of a young fresco painter living in 13th century Zürich, was awarded the Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society Indie Review and the BRAG Medallion from IndieBRAG in 2015.
Her second novel, Savior, also an BRAG Medallion Honoree (2016), tells the story of a young man in the 13th century who fights depression by going on Crusade. Her newest novel, The Brothers Path, a loose sequel to Savior, looks at the same family three hundred years later as they find their way through the Protestant Reformation.
Kennedy has also published many short-stories and articles in a variety of publications from the Denver Post to the Business Communications Quarterly.
Kennedy was born in Denver, Colorado and earned her undergraduate degree in American Literature from University of Colorado, Boulder and her graduate degree in American Literature from the University of Denver. She has taught college and university writing at all levels, business communication, literature and English as a Second Language.
For many years she lived in the San Diego area, most recently in Descanso, a small town in the Cuyamaca Mountains. She has recently returned to Colorado to live in Monte Vista in the San Luis Valley.
To learn more about Kennedy’s award-winning novels, Martin of Gfenn and Savior, check out her Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/martha_ann_kennedy
Buy The Brothers Path by Martha Kennedy
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Broken Teepee Nov 4 Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway
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Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Nov 30 Review
This was a look at another aspect of the religious reformation. One I really had very little knowledge of as most of us, when considering the Reformation tend to think of Luther. I had honestly never considered nor, truth be told knew about the goings on in Zurich. The changes there led ultimately to what became the Amish and Mennonites here.
The Brother’s Path tells the story of the Schneebeli brothers who live near Zurich and are caught up in the changing religious movements. One son had been sent to the church but he starts to question the beliefs he has held since childhood. Two other brothers are caught up in the fight over baptizing children – one of them gives far too much to the cause. In between all of the religious discussion they marry and love and do all of the things people do.
It was interesting to learn about this bit of history that was new to me. I find a certain fascination about reading about religion and its evolution which is curious for an atheist. The book was at times slow and it hopped through time which was awkward and if you weren’t paying close attention to the dates at the chapter headings could cause confusion. I respect it was a tale about challenging and dangerous times but for me a bit more depth and description about how all of the upheaval really impacted their lives would have made for a more impactful read.
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