Juniata County is the setting for new novel
CLARKSVILLE, Md. — References to Juniata, Mifflin, Centre and Snyder counties abound in a new book by a former Juniata County resident, but while the setting may be real, the story is not true.
That becomes obvious as soon as readers learn the main characters are professors at Midland Bible College, which, in real life, does not exist.
The author, Ella Rydzewski, is a freelance writer living in Maryland, who, at one time, lived in Juniata County.
“Many years ago I worked as the Juniata County stringer for The (Lewistown) Sentinel,” she said in a press release.
Her just-published novel, “Starting Over in the Past,” billed as “religious fiction,” is set in Juniata County.
“My husband and I lived in Mifflintown in the 1970s, when he was part of a University of Pennsylvania dental program in the schools,” Rydzewski said. “A lot of people still remember us. I loved the area and found it difficult to leave. The county and surrounding area is also part of my family’s Mennonite history.”
The author’s Mennonite heritage is an integral part of the story, which, Rydzewski said, “is a story especially of interest to women and is Christian-oriented.”
In addition, she said, “it entertains as a mystery-romance.”
Rydzewski has published more than 200 articles and editorials in faith magazines on theology and the Christian life, the book’s back cover states. “But she believes stories are the best way to show their value and yet entertain with a sprinkle of romance and mystery.”
The story in the book takes place in 2005, two years after Catherine’s 30-year marriage to physicist Kenji Yamashiro, ends in his suspicious death. She is called to her childhood home –Juniata County –to care for her aging mother.
Catherine gives up her career as a seminary professor and moves from Washington, D.C., to teach at the small Midland Bible College in rural Pennsylvania, where she met her husband when he was a young immigrant from post-war Japan. Instead of being embraced by the past, it seems to push her away as she discovers a secret her husband never shared, the book jacket explains.
The story continues as Catherine befriends a former classmate, who is now a science teacher at the college. He questions creationism and evolution, putting his job in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Catherine suspects someone who is seeking her husband’s research at the Physics Institute where he worked, has followed her to Pennsylvania.
In the author’s note in the book, Rydzewski writes, “I have wanted for some time to write a novel for older women (40 and up), since there seems to be a dearth of such books, as if only the young experience mystery and romance.”
The story, she says, “occurs in a familiar place, with pleasant memories from my own past,” or, her days as a resident of Juniata County.
“However,” she writes, “you will not find Midland Bible College in Juniata County, although it would be an ideal setting for any college.”
“Starting Over in the Past,” is a 211-page, soft cover book, priced at $17.95. It is available through Amazon.com, or the publisher at www.westbowpress.com, (866) 928-1240.