When Willow is born and her mother dies moments later, only the narrator of this spellbinding debut novel knows the death isn't from complications of childbirth. Amelie-Anais, buried on the Nebraska hilltop where the family home resides, tells the story of deceit, survival, and love from beyond the grave. Following Willow's life and Willow's incredible passion to paint despite loneliness, a physical handicap, and being raised by a father plagued with secrets, Amelie-Anais weaves together the lives of four enigmatic generations.
Margaret Lukas is a professor at the University of Nebraska@ Omaha. She teaches in UNO’s Creative Writing program. She received her BFA from UNO’s Writers Workshop in 2004. In 2007 Margaret received her MFA from Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. She is a contributor to NEBRASKAland magazine and an editor for the quarterly literary journal, Fine Lines. Her writing also appears online and in the 2012 anthology, On Becoming, published by the University of Nebraska Press. Her award-winning short story, “The Yellow Bird,” was made into a short film and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. She is a recipient of a 2009 Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist fellowship. Farthest House is her first novel.
This weekend I spoke at a local library. In a room full of people, I covered many aspects of writing and publishing. But the questions that brought out the most discussion were these: Which of your deceased relatives do you feel is most interested in your life? Why? Do you feel their presence at joyful times or stressful times?
On the 3rd of May, 1960, I stood unseen in the sad bedroom, watching the small group huddled around her: the doctor, her husband Julian, and his mother. As Jeannie struggled in childbirth, we all prayed the doctor could somehow stop the excessive flow of blood. Had I been alive, I might have been of use, for I’d been something of an herbalist, picking up my skirts as a girl and trampling through the French countryside. Later, as a grown woman, I walked through trees and along the banks of the Elkhorn River searching for the medicinal plants I needed. But I’d been dead nineteen years. What could I do?