The Thousandth Telling

Published in 2018 by LuLu

Buy the book…

Signed copies of The Thousandth Telling are available from the author.  Click the PayPal button to purchase for $37.00 (includes tax and shipping).

The Thousandth Telling Cover
The Thousandth Telling

About the book…

Spanning nearly a century, The Thousandth Telling is the story of three generations of women each of whom must navigate the prevailing social norms as she strives to live an authentic life. The story begins with Anna who seeks to balance mothering her six children while supporting her demanding husband in a deteriorating marriage. Desiring a better future for her four daughters, she dedicates herself to women’s suffrage.

Ruth, Anna’s youngest and willful daughter, returns home after a year’s banishment to South Carolina to find her town in the throes of the Ku Klux Klan. Initially captivated by the drama of the Klan, she joins the WKKK until the increasing reign of terror becomes personal. Against a backdrop of speakeasies, big bands, the Great Depression, and into the Post World War II boom, Ruth seeks to heal from her shameful past. While marriage promises to help her regain her respectability, the trust and stability for which she yearns is elusive.

Dianna, who introduces each woman’s story, marries her college sweetheart. When their life is suddenly and tragically derailed by the unimaginable, Dianna is challenged to regain her equilibrium. The tumultuous 60’s provide the impetus to “raising her consciousness.” Inspired by her grandmother, Anna, Dianna is drawn into another struggle for equal rights for women.

Each of the three women must face the inevitable dilemma: Has she paid too high a price?

Download a printable information sheet about The Thousandth Telling.

About the cover image…

The cover image is a painting by Martha Lindenborg Vaught, an Indianapolis visual artist.  It is one panel of a triptych entitled, “IceHouse Harvest Irvington and the B & O Rails” (oil on canvas). View the triptych on Martha’s website. The painting features three scenes of Irvington, an Indianapolis neighborhood and former home of Butler University. Irvington is featured prominently in The Thousandth Telling.

Detail of oil painting by Martha Lindenborg Vaught (Icehouse Harvest Irvington and the B & O Rails)
Detail of oil painting by Martha Lindenborg Vaught (Icehouse Harvest Irvington and the B & O Rails)
Detail of oil painting by Martha Lindenborg Vaught (Icehouse Harvest Irvington and the B & O Rails)
Ice House Tower in Irvington, Indianapolis
Detail of oil painting by Martha Lindenborg Vaught (Icehouse Harvest Irvington and the B & O Rails)
View of the B & O Railroad in Irvington Indianapolis

Read an excerpt…

I absolutely forbid it!” She took aim and fired her words across the spotless tea table. Like a brass tipped long-nosed bullet from a 22-rifle, her voice exploded into the heart of my enthusiasm. Something broke loose and spilled onto the thick white carpet. I peered down at the floor, checking for a messy puddle. Did broken dreams leave stains to remind us of what was, what might have been? I gasped, feeling pain riddle through my body and, willing breath back into my passion, I choked, “But, I only want to…”

It was 1976. On my way to the completion of a degree in psychology, I’d awakened, I’d become political. I’d become a feminist—committed (some would say obsessed) to the struggle for women’s rights. I’d changed my focus to Sociology, the most radical edge of a conservative university. Every course of study focused on the reclamation of woman. The Changing Perspective of Women in Literature. The Sociology of Women. The Evolving Role of Woman. For Women in History, I’d been set afire with determination to reclaim my own herstory. I would explore the story of my mother’s mother, Anna Ashby Dietrick.

“No!” She slammed her palm onto the table.

Another shot, this one rattling the gleaming china cup against its saucer. Tea rippled from rim to rim, the volley creating turbulent waves in the delicate Havilland cup.

“But, Mother, it’s for a term paper.” I was willing to plead, but I would not surrender, not this time.

Her menacing dark eyes narrowed, threatening another shot. Another wound. I crumpled and was still. Silenced…

What people are saying…

The Thousandth Telling is both timeless and timely. This ambitious historic fiction is the story of three generations of women each of whom valiantly meets the challenge of her era. Their stories are, often unwittingly, both personal and political. Nancy VanArsdall’s voice is authentic, and compelling. She does her childhood home of historic Irvington proud as she takes us from the enfranchisement of women, through the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, to the struggle for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

— Kim Duckett Ph.D. author of The Wheel of the Year as a Spiritual Psychology for Women.

The Thousandth Telling is an intricately woven tale of women and family. It is the story of three generations of women whose lives hold the similarity of family and the uniqueness of individuals. It has the quality of a memoir while also sharing intimate observations of the strength and vitality of each woman. As each generation gives way to the next, we are given the opportunity to glimpse the evolution of three remarkable women who, each in her own way creates her family’s future.

— Jade River, Author of Goddess books and the Administrator of the Women’s Thealogical Institute.

Thank you so much for pouring a decade of your time, your ability, and your “self” into the writing of The Thousandth Telling. The bringing to life of Anna, Ruth, and Dianna in the rich way that you wove their stories has been a gift to me. I felt as though I had literally been taken back in time, standing in the kitchens, in the gardens, and in the lives of each woman!  In many ways, it was as though my own story was being told. I resonated with the struggles, the joys, the courage, the disappointments, the determination, and the decisions of each woman as she sought her rightful place in a patriarchal world that was, and still is stacked against her.  My fondest wish is that one (or all) of my granddaughters picks up the book from my bookshelf, opens to its first page, and gets hooked just like I did!

— Joyce Warner Stone, former producer of the National Women’s Music Festival

I so wanted to let you know how much I am savoring and enjoying your book. It is so well- researched and the writing flows and is very descriptive of the emotions going on in the lives of these three remarkable women. I am reading it every spare moment and don’t want it to end. It is particularly pertinent for me because I am 63 and relate each woman to my grandmother, mother, and me. My grandmother separated from my grandfather who fled to California while she lived off his money in hotels in NYC and a country house in the mountains raising her sons by herself. My mother was a writer, vegetarian, animal rights activist, and feminist and raised me to fight for the rights of the underdog (women, people of color, gays, children, animals). Your book is an awe-inspiring epic!

— Valerie Foote

This novel loosely follows the author’s mother line through three generations. World, national, local events and changing societal norms have been well researched and provide the drama and life challenges that shape each generation. The story reads like an epic novel set in the Midwest while also relating to the lives of women across America. The impact of historical events on very real people and decisions they make is relatable to my own life as it will be for many readers. If this novel were a TV show, I’d say it is a blend of Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person and Walter Cronkite’s You Are There. This is a very compelling story of historical fiction and a must read for every feminist and those who care about the equality of women in the world. Men will enjoy this novel for the insight and awareness the story offers on our collective history.

— Mary Gaul

The Thousandth Telling Image Gallery

Enjoy some images we’ve selected to illustrate some themes from The Thousandth Telling narrative.
Click images to open a larger view with captions and/or to play as a slideshow.

"Votes For Women" Suffragettes in a Wagon - Courtesy of IHS
Ku Klux Klan Poster, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society
Hotel English Poster, Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society
Indianapolis NOW Conference Button
Washington Irving Bust
Fountain in Irvington Park
Old Sign on a Building in Irvington
The Propaleum in Indianapolis
President Benjamin Harrison Home
Old Weather Vane in Irvington
The Benton House in Irvington
D. C. Stephenson's House in Irvington
Dry Goods Sign on a Building in Irvington
Oberholzer Home in Irvington
Beautiful old Oak in Irvington
Irvington Methodist Church

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