Heidi Chiavaroli publishes her 10th novel, Hope Beyond the Waves

Heidi Chiavaroli, author of Swansea 10th novel was 10 years in the making.

“Hope Beyond the Waves” is a story about the transformer power of unconditional love, and how love transcends time.

Set in 1993 and 1916, the novel begins with the struggles of Emily, whose parents send her to Cape Cod to hide her pregnancy. She must stay with her grandmother and finish her last two months of high school, so that her father’s political aspirations are not affected.

Emily faces the prospect of not only having to give birth without the comfort of her mother’s presence – the baby’s father won’t take responsibility – but her parents have also urged her to give her baby up for adoption.

When she feels like her whole life is over, her grandmother tells her the story of her grandmother’s older sister, Atta, who was herself expelled in 1916, for some very reason. worse :

Atta had leprosy.

More politely known as Hansen’s disease, the stigma surrounding it has forced Atta to Penikese Island off the coast of Massachusetts, where all the sick who lived in the state were sent for treatment.

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Atta is forced to give up her entire life in Taunton: her home, her little sister Gertie (who is insecure, with an alcoholic and violent father at home) and her fiancé. She, too, believes her life is over, and it essentially is, but in her darkest moments, she finds hope and new love with the doctor who is determined to save her life, Harry Mayhew.

The History of Penikese Island as a “Leper Colony”

Penikese Island is part of the town of Gosnold off Cape Cod and was, in effect, a “leper colony” until 1921. chiavaroli became fascinated with the island’s history when she read a book about it in 2010: “Island of Hope” by I. Thomas Buckley. She had thought leprosy was a thing of Bible stories.

chiavaroli says her newfound interest in Penikese sent her into “a research frenzy”.

“I read everything I could, not only about leprosy, but about the island and the patients. A story began to sprout in my head.

She visited Harvard University County Medical Library as part of his research, and even took a trip to visit the island with his then 6-year-old son.

The first version of this novel was completed in 2012. But it was not yet his time.

After his manuscript won an international competition for unpublished writers in 2014, Chiavaroli found an agent and published his first novel, “Freedom’s Ring.”

“When I turned 40 last year, I wondered what book I would publish if I could only publish one more novel in my life. I wanted this novel to be my 10th published novel,” she said.

"Hope beyond the waves," by Heidi Chiavaroli

The answer was soon clear to her: the book she had written on the island of Penikese.

When she began reworking the manuscript, Chiavaroli bridged her historical and contemporary accounts by looking at another era in Penikese history: From 1973 to 2011, it housed a school for “troubled boys.”

“I couldn’t help but notice how much the island’s history involved the rejection of undesirables. I wanted to shed light on the story of the outcast, and also bring hope to some of the darker parts of our local Massachusetts history,” Chiavaroli said. The Herald’s News.

Although its central protagonists are all fictional, Chiavaroli uses realism beyond its settings in SouthCoast and Elizabeth Islands. The other patients Atta befriends are all mostly real and were actually treated on Penikese. Some died there and were buried on the island, while those still there in 1921 were transferred to a federal processing center in Louisiana.

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Incorporate real-life heroes

Two of Chiavaroli’s heroes were also very real: Dr. Frank Parker and his wife, Marion. They served patients on Penikese until it closed, at their own risk. Not only to their health, but to their social status. Their charity has made them pariahs on the continent.

“At that time Dr Parker could not find patients (no one wanted to be treated by a man who had treated lepers for the past 14 years) and at the age of 66 he was turned down a pension,” Chiavaroli said.

Today, Penikese Island is a wildlife sanctuary – they also have week-long STEAM camps for girls – offering students the opportunity to experience their world with nature-based environmental programming.

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“Hope Beyond the Waves” is about people facing their toughest times, seemingly insurmountable odds, and how they all find hope, even during their darkest times.

And this book is not all that readers can expect from Chiavaroli this year:

She’ll be sharing the story of her modern-day March family again, with the fifth book in her “Orchard House” series expected this fall.

“I’ve always loved anything about Louisa May Alcott and ‘Little Women,’ so it was fun to write!”

Herald News / Taunton Daily Gazette, Editor and Digital Producer, Kristina Fontes can be contacted at kfontes@heraldnews.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette today.

Irene B. Bowles