On Bur Oak Ridge

Finding Healing and a Second Chance at Love

Jenny Knipfer

“The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith.” Readers’ Favorite five-star review

A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF FINDING HEALING AND A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE

In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons’ farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face.

Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons’ hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel–seeing past Molly’s scars–draws her out of her self-protective shell.

Molly and Samuel form a friendship, but just as their hearts lead them deeper, an unexpected guest comes calling, demanding what’s his.

Will Molly and Samuel find a way to be together or will they be separated, due to impediments beyond their control? Can they trust in God’s plan and travel a path that heals the hurts of the past?

Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, and Christian historical romance will delight in this beautifully wrought story of the healing power of love.

“A heartwarming story of healing from external and internal scars. Through some of life’s harder lessons the characters learn to trust, forgive, and find second chances out of the ashes of pain and loss.”
Anne Perreault, author of eighteen inspirational novels, including the Yellowstone series


Trigger Warnings:
Grief, trauma from burns, accidental death, time in an insane asylum

Book Excerpt

Molly

My throat pricks, and it feels as if a hand squeezes my neck, trying to choke me. I hate this feeling, even more than the raspy sounds my voice often brings forth.

When I think of the damage I’ve suffered and all that I’ve lost, it threatens to overwhelm me. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten better, able to push past those terrible feelings, but every once in a while, they come rushing back.

Sometimes in my dreams I sing, still, unencumbered by the pain and damage to my vocal cords. I touch my throat, fingering the familiar, marred skin, sensing the scorching, caustic water as if it were yesterday. The hot splash searing through my skin and down my throat. My vocal cords reaping the scourge of that moment. Instead of seeing the laundry kettle toppling, I see my vocal teacher, Mrs. Strenelli, sitting at the baby grand in her parlor…

“You must annunciate, Mrs. Lund. Annunciate!” she shouted at me, her words ripe with a heavy Italian accent.

Her fingers punched down on the keys, emphasizing each word. “Yes, Mrs. Strenelli. I’m trying.”

I worked at perfecting Ave Maria for an interview with the director of the Chicago opera. After a year of study with Mrs. Strenelli, she pressed me to apply for an opening at the theater.

“You must try harder! Again!” She punched out the words like a drill sergeant giving orders. Her forcefulness didn’t startle me, as this was her usual way of instruction. I knew she only wanted me to succeed. “Use your diaphragm.”

She reminded me to breathe in and expel my air with the aid of my trunk muscles.

She rolled out an introduction to the aria, and I picked up at the appropriate spot, hitting the notes with perfect pitch, command, and what I hoped was clear diction. She nodded as she played, a large smile on her wide, thick lips. Her plump fingers, showcasing several rings with large stones, had no trouble in accompanying me as I sang with every ounce of passion and training that I’d acquired.
As the climax of the piece built, she encouraged me, reminding me to increase my volume. “Better! Forte!”

I felt so alive, so free, with my voice soaring with the music. We finished the final notes in a tapered way, funneling back to piano, a soft timbre.

She leaned back on the cherry piano bench, her teeth showing through her full smile, twinkles sparkling in her dark eyes, and her olive skin aglow with satisfaction.

“Bellissima!” Mrs. Strenelli exclaimed. She kissed the tips of her gathered fingers on her right hand, unfurling them back in an artful gesture. “Ah, well done. If the director does not select you for his vacant role, he is a fool.”

I smiled, giddy and happy with the possibility of singing with the Chicago Opera. I imagined it: me, a small-town, backwater girl from the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It seemed a dream a year prior but now the possibility was within my grasp. All thanks to my teacher and coach, Mrs. Strenelli, a frequent guest at The Gateway hotel in Land O’ Lakes, where I worked. One day she heard me singing while I stirred the laundry kettle and offered to give me lessons.

That seems like ages ago now. I was a different person back then, one not marred by life and its cruelties. The pain of not being able to sing and experience that joy and freedom hurts just as much or more than my melted skin did. Except it aches, over and over again. I bury the grief one day, thinking I’ve dealt with it, but it rises again and again—a living, dead hope.

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Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

All of Jenny’s books have earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.

She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.

Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesota’s Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons and a three-part fantasy series entitled: Retold Fairy Tales.

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