My tbr stack keeps growing faster than I can read, review, and share it! Fortunately, y’all don’t have to wait on my limited reading schedule to learn more about Ever Faithful… Karen Barnett has answered a few q&a’s for us and her publisher provided a giveaway!
about the author
Karen Barnett is an award-winning author of five novels who draws on her firsthand experience as a naturalist, former park ranger, and outdoor educator to transport readers to America’s national parks.
She lives in Oregon with her husband, two teenagers, and three mischievous dachshunds.
When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, decorating crazy birthday cakes, and dragging her kids through boring history museums.
There are so many fun descriptions of the natural wonders in the park. How would you describe yourself in Yellowstone terms?
K: I couldn’t resist describing the characters using Yellowstone features, like “bubbly and feisty as a geyser” and “serene as Lake Yellowstone on a summer afternoon.” I never thought about applying that to myself! Let’s see… Before I have my morning coffee I’d say I’m grouchy as a mama grizzly.
B: We have a saying in our home, “don’t poke the mama bear!” I can relate to the mama grizzly!
One of the main characters, Nate Webber, arrives in Yellowstone as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. What was this program and why was it significant for this time in history?
K: I purposely chose to set Ever Faithful in the 1930s because I wanted to include the story of the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was one of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s answers to the skyrocketing unemployment of the Great Depression. The CCC took millions of young men and put them to work on public lands doing a wide variety of conservation projects—building trails, planting trees, fighting wildfires, etc. Many of these men had never stepped foot out of major cities and they suddenly found themselves shipped off to camps in some of our nation’s most beautiful landscapes.
I had the opportunity to read the Yellowstone superintendent’s monthly reports from 1933. He seemed a little doubtful about the program at first, because the crew they sent him was made up of half-starved young men from Brooklyn and the Bronx. That document gave me a pretty good picture of what Nate and his crew would look like!
B: We’ve seen work done by CCC crews locally, I’ll have to keep my eyes open the next time we visit a national park!
Through one of the character’s stories, you explore the topic of mental health, specifically depression. What was society’s understanding of depression during this time, and why did you include this in the storyline?
K: In the 30s, it wouldn’t be unusual to tell a depressed friend to just “cheer up already.” And the fact is, we still hear that sort of thing! With this storyline, I wanted to encourage people to keep a close eye on their friends and loved ones, and don’t just assume that the mood will pass. Sometimes it takes a caring person to intervene and encourage someone to get the help they need.
In Ever Faithful, I didn’t really get an opportunity to address the treatments for depression available in the 1930s, but it was really pretty nightmarish by today’s standards and the research left me reeling. I know we still have much to learn, but I’m thankful we’ve come as far as we have.
B: I’m so glad you decided to tackle this issue!
For readers traveling to Yellowstone this summer, or who hope to in the future, what is one thing you recommend they do during their visit?
K: Every visitor needs to experience the park highlights like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring, but my suggestion would be to see those and then keep walking. I’ve heard statistics that suggest that only about 1% of visitors get more than a quarter mile away from the road. With as busy as Yellowstone can be, you won’t get that sense of wilderness until you put some distance between you and the crowds. Get away and listen to the sounds of the bubbling springs, the wind, and the birds. You’ll be glad you did.
Oh, and here’s a second idea for you! One thing I regret not doing on my last trip (and plan to rectify soon) is taking a tour on one of the historic buses. The drivers are very knowledgeable about the park and can point out aspects of Yellowstone you might never discover on your own. Plus—vintage yellow buses! Does it get any cooler than that?
B: We did a quick drive through visit during one of our long road trips but we’re looking forward to going back!
about the book
Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.
A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.
Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy.
Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?
Vintage National Parks series
Thanks to the generosity of the publisher, one fortunate Faithfully Bookish reader friend will win a print copy of Ever Faithful.
US only | ends 7/1 | giveaway policy
Have you been to or do you want to visit Yellowstone?!
Share your Yellowstone experiences or bucket list, reader friends!
Is Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett going on your tbr shelf?