2011 IPPY Gold Medal–Regional Fiction, Midwest,
2011 Indie Excellence Finalist Award for Historical Fiction and Regional Fiction,
2011 International Book Awards Finalist for Historical Fiction and Best New Fiction)
Katherine wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t found the letter…
Katherine Arthur’s mother arrives on her doorstep, dying, forcing her to relive a past she wanted to forget. When Katherine was young, the Arthur family had been affluent city dwellers until shame sent them running for the prairie, into the unknown. Taking her family, including young Katherine, to live off the land was the last thing Jeanie Arthur had wanted, but she would do her best to make a go of it. For Jeanie’s husband Frank it had been a world of opportunity. Dreaming, lazy Frank. But, it was a society of uncertainty—a domain of natural disasters, temptation, hatred, even death.
Ten-year-old Katherine had loved her mother fiercely, put her trust in her completely, but when there was no other choice, and Jeanie resorted to extreme measures on the prairie to save her family, she tore Katherine’s world apart. Now, seventeen years later, and far from the homestead, Katherine has found the truth – she has discovered the last letter. After years of anger, can Katherine find it in her heart to understand why her mother made the decisions that changed them all? Can she forgive and finally begin to heal before it’s too late?
From the reviewers:
I really loved this book. It was “Little House on The Prairie” meets reality! I learned a lot about prairie life that I had never contemplated. The characters were so well created. – L. Smith
Kathleen Shoop makes the lives of the pioneer women come alive. The dirt and disease and hard work that is a part of daily life are outlined in a way that is uncommon, transporting the reader to that time and place. She also recreates the interdependency between neighboring families and how strong those friendships were. This book is recommended for historical fiction readers, as well as readers interested in family dynamics. – Sandra Kirkland
Kathleen Shoop combines a wonderful story with compelling characters and very talented writing. I found myself stopping regularly to appreciate her art and to re-read passages that were so easy to absorb and enjoy, yet were profoundly descriptive and insightful. I first bought The Last Letter on Kindle, then had to have a hard copy. It deserves to be spontaneously picked up and savored. She truly is a gifted writer. – Mike Lee
This is a very eye-opening book as to how people actually lived on the prairies of the United States when territories were first being settled. When this family moved into their “Home” the former resident left a sign for them that read, “Welcome to Hell”. They should have turned and ran all the way back home, but they chose to stay out of stubbornness, pride, and wishful thinking. This was a great book. It’s definitely not “LIttle House on the Prairie” with happy endings at the end of every episode, but I’m glad I read it and highly recommend it. – Michelle Wegner
Thank you for reading about me here and for purchasing my novel! I’m married with two children. I’ve been seriously writing for almost a decade although I dabbled much earlier than that! I’ve had short stories published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books, am a regular contributor to a local magazine, Pittsburgh Parent, and have had essays in local newspapers as well.
I have a PhD in Reading Education and currently work as a Language Arts Coach at a school in Pittsburgh. I work with teachers and their students in grades k-8 and am lucky to learn something new from them every time I walk through their doors.
My first novel, The Last Letter (2011 IPPY Gold Medal–Regional Fiction, Midwest, 2011 Indie Excellence Finalist Award for Historical Fiction and Regional Fiction, 2011 International Book Awards Finalist for Historical Fiction and Best New Fiction), was a fascinating trip through history, punctuated with fictional characters and events. The idea for the story grew from my great-great grandmother’s letters (see My Dear Frank for the complete set of letters!) written during the year of her engagement to Frank Arthur. The beautiful letters are the inspiration for the novel, the seed from which The Last Letter’s characters and their voices grew.
I’ve also written women’s fiction (COMING SOON!) and have written another historical fiction novel (COMING A LITTLE LATER!) set in 1948 in a town not far from Oakmont, PA.
I’m considering revisiting my characters and setting of The Last Letter for a future book, but I hope readers will enjoy the fact I write about varied eras and places and that they will love each book for it’s unique setting and time.
And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample of THE LAST LETTER by Kathleen Shoop: