When I published my book, Secrets & Deceptions: A Three Generation Mystery, I was terrified of what people would say about the book and me. I had basically cut myself open and asked people to look inside me and tell me if I was good or bad. Even if your book isn’t a memoir or an autobiography, it is deeply personal. Luckily so far, I have gone to #1 in my category of eBooks on Amazon and gotten 4.8 stars out of 5. The five people who reviewed the book so far have been quite generous with their praise.
In addition to the great reviews, I have been fortunate to have met one writer, Jenny Milchman, who has taken the time to mentor me, and I have received a lovely email response from my hero author, Erica Jong. I met Jenny on line when she discovered I lived in Norfolk and she was coming here to do a book signing at Princes Bookstore. We arranged to go out after the book signing. What an encyclopedia of knowledge about writing, publishing, and promoting Jenny is. And she is more than willing to share her knowledge and contacts with you! I discovered she is not only a good writer but a good person. She wants to help other writers become successful and isn’t threatened by the possibility another author could become famous.
The second event, a reply to an email from Erica Jong, erased all fears I has about writing and publishing my story. I emailed her assistant one evening and asked could I send my book to Erica. The next day I received a response explaining how busy Erica was but that she appreciated my writing and if I didn’t mind how long it took, Erica would try and read my book. I know the email came from her assistant but it was written in a very personal way. It expressed what Erica said and thought, not the assistant. The fact that I was told there was a chance that she would read my book reinforced my appreciation of Erica Jong as a writer and a person.
I am not re-energized about my continuing to write. I have more knowledge about what to do to publicize my book. And, I have a new “friend/mentor” and a chance that Erica Jong will read my book.
By Helene F. Uhlfelder
Copyright © 2015 by Helene F. Uhlfelder
All rights reserved.
Book design by Helene F. Uhlfelder
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Purple Zebra Productions, LLC books are available for order through Ingram Press Catalogues.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Helene F. Uhlfelder
Visit my website at www.helenefuhlfelder.com
Follow me on Facebook: HeleneFUhlfelder
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: March 2015
Published by Purple Zebra Productions, LLC
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62747-095-7
This book is dedicated to:
My loving and supportive, husband, Asa Shield, without whom this book would not be possible;
The memory of our wonderful golden retriever, Vinnie, who passed away while I wrote this book; and
The memory of a most remarkable friend, Michele McNichols. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and wonder, “What would Michele do?” I will miss her until the next time the universe puts us together again.
Note to Readers
It is said that one’s first novel is always biographical, but I don’t agree. Secrets & Deceptions is a work of fiction although some of the historical information is true.
It is also true that my ancestors came to the United States from Germany. The rest of the book is a product of my imagination.
Mr. and Mrs. Horowitz (Hannah’s parents)
Karl (Agnes’ husband)
Isaac (Sara’s husband)
Molly (Joseph’s ex-wife)
Mrs. Straus (Saul’s mother)
Sophie (Hannah and Saul’s daughter)
Heinrich (Hannah’s friend in Germany)
Brigitte (Heinrich’s wife)
Marie (Hannah’s friend in New Jersey)
Otto (Leo’s father)
Golda (Leo’s mother)
Alfred (Leo’s cousins in New Jersey)
Bianca (Alfred’s wife)
|Leo’s Cousins in Atlanta
Edwin (Hannah’s cousin)
Martha (Edwin’s wife)
Ellen (Oldest daughter)
Ruby Roth (Fox)
Barry (Madeleine’s husband)
Jane (Barry’s mother)
Morris (Barry’s father)
Jeff’s phone rang at 6:00 a.m. His bedroom was still dark except for a sliver of early morning light peeping around the corners of the window blinds. There was no traffic noise from the street behind his house. His wife of thirty years lay asleep beside him.
Jeff grabbed the phone and picked up the receiver, hoping the shrill sound didn’t wake up his wife.
“Get the paper now! Read the front page. I think Adam has done something awful!” Madeleine, his sister, screamed at her brother Jeff. Adam, their oldest brother, was often in the paper. He was a former senator so Madeleine and Jeff were used to reading articles about their brother.
Jeff yawned and looked at the clock. He didn’t need to get up for another hour. “What is so bad that you had to call me this early? Couldn’t it wait?”
“No! When you read the paper, you’ll know why,” Madeleine told him.
Taking his cell phone with him, Jeff went downstairs and opened the front door. He grabbed the newspaper off the bottom step. The flimsy plastic bag was damp with the morning dew. “Oh, my God, do you really think he did this?” he said to Madeleine after he read the headline and the first few lines of the article. “Why would you think that? He never believed us. Did something happen?”
“Yes. He called me yesterday and sounded depressed as usual. He said he changed his mind and hired a private investigator to find her.” Madeleine paused to take a sip of coffee. “He was already so fragile. This may have been the last straw. Maybe he finally cracked.”
Lead Story: Palm Beach Post
Local Widow Found Dead in Her Home
Ellen F. Berger, 70, was found dead this morning in her winter home in Boca Village. Burglary was ruled out. There were no signs of forced entry and nothing was taken. Police are puzzled because Boca Village is a gated community with a security guard at the only entrance. Sergeant Ralph Thomas could not remember any strange cars entering or leaving last night.
Unfortunately, the video camera at the entrance was not working. The police did not find any fingerprints other than those of the victim, her family, and her maid. The police are stymied. They have no motive and no evidence.
Ms. Berger’s daughter, Allison Berger, said she had just seen her mother that night for dinner.
“How could someone do this to such a wonderful person? My mother was the kindest person anyone knows. My sisters and I are devastated. We haven’t told the grandchildren yet that they lost their ‘Bubbe.’”
Police are asking anybody who knows anything related to this case to please call 561-HELPS-US.
Funeral services and visiting hours will be announced later today.
The First Generation
Germany and America
1890 – 1938
“…Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…”
Emma Lazarus, The Statue of Liberty
“I will not marry him,” Hannah said as she stamped her foot on the living room floor. “I don’t care what you have promised. I will not marry him. How dare you make arrangements for my wedding? To someone I have never met. To someone almost fifty years old and who lives in America. What were you thinking?” she hissed at her parents.
She now understood why the house had been awash with frantic activity — drapes pulled down and dusted, rugs taken outside and beaten, and the floor polished to a shine. Mama had yelled at Clarisse, the maid, to make sure the upstairs rooms were swept twice.
“You’ll meet him, and you’ll marry him,” Hannah’s mother said, loudly, which was unlike her. “Your papa and I are tired of answering questions about why you aren’t married yet. People think something is wrong with you.” She paced the room, moving objects from place to place. “I don’t want people to think that you can’t get a husband; that you are no longer a virgin. Your sisters and brothers are married — it’s past time for you.” She paused, took a deep breath, and announced, “It’s arranged, so there’s no way to get out of it.”
Hannah still lived with her parents. That was what proper, unmarried women did until they found a husband and raised a family. Instead, she worked as a seamstress and a hat and glove designer. She made enough money to travel occasionally with her sisters or friends, and to live a comfortable life as long as she remained with her parents and didn’t have to pay rent. As far as she was concerned, a husband was not part of the vision she had for her life.
“Papa, please listen.” Hannah turned to her father. “You already have ten grandchildren, so you don’t need more. What’s the hurry?” She paused and looked at her father’s face to gauge his reaction. “You know I’m a virtuous woman and that I try to be the way you want me to be. But please, not him, not now. He’s so old. At least find me a younger man, one who lives here.” Hannah knew she was losing this battle. Papa’s face was the color of a ripe tomato. His eyes were as dark as night.
“Hannah, do what your mother says. I’ll hear no more of this,” he said and turned to his wife for support.
Mrs. Horowitz, who felt empowered to force her opinion on her daughter, instructed, “Go put on the new dress you made, the one with the intricate lace pattern and the tiny pleats. Wear the white shawl with the seed pearls that you crocheted. I want him to see your talents, so he knows he’s getting a wife who can make such lovely garments.”
Hannah’s mother, having asserted her authority over her daughter, lowered her voice and sat down on the gold brocade sofa. She fluffed the needlepoint pillow and continued in a softer voice. “We’re also going to tell him that you cooked part of the dinner and made the desserts. We want him and his mother to see what a fine, accomplished woman you are.”
Hannah knew not to talk back to her mother. She stormed out of the living room and went upstairs to her room to dress. Her room was her refuge from her parents. It was filled with books, her craft supplies, and photographs of her nieces and nephews.
“Please, God,” she prayed. “Make him not too bad. Not too old and ugly. If I have to get married, at least give me a handsome man.” She supposed he had to have a flaw or two if he was fifty and was willing to marry a twenty-nine-year-old woman.
Hannah took off the beige frock that she wore when she was knitting. Yarn fragments of various colors fell to the floor. She had been making a baby blanket for her sister’s newborn baby. As she took the dress her mother wanted her to wear out of the small bedroom wardrobe, she decided to steel herself for the upcoming meeting. She brushed her hair and repeated quietly, “I will continue to be myself even if I marry. I will continue to be myself even if I marry.” By the time she went downstairs, she felt ready to face her situation and make the best of it.