A Chat with Selah Hopewell from Laura Frantz’s Tidewater Bride

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today. ‘Tis a pleasure to make your acquaintance, thank you. And such a windswept day it is! This calls for a warm cup of tea, surely. And two quilted petticoats if you don’t mind my saying so. 

Tell us something about where you live. My family resides in the Tidewater region of Virginia, namely James Towne, the first settlement in Virginia Colony. A picturesque place despite the ongoing leadership squabbles and Indian unrest. A great many settlers have died since landing on our shores. Somehow I and my family have survived. God be thanked!

Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name? Mine is a Biblical name. Selah occurs 74 times in Scripture, 71 times in Psalms, and 3 times in Habakkuk. ‘Tis a bit of a mystery, the meaning. Some think it denotes “pause” or “interlude.” I know of no other woman with that name. It seems to sit well with my surname, Hopewell. 

Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work? There are few women in Virginia Colony, sadly, and so I’ve been placed in charge of bringing brides here, an entire boatload! These fair maids who are coming are referred to as King’s Daughters or Tobacco Brides. They hail from England and are of good reputation, industrious women who will make good wives and mothers and help keep the men from going over to the Indians and taking Indian brides. I dislike having to visit these brides with a questionable escort, the French physic and swordsman, Helion Lattimer. Oh, there’s a story for you!

Who are the special people in your life? I adore my little brother, Shay. I am the eldest and he is the youngest. Once there were three other siblings in our family – two boys and a girl (Phoebe, John, and Prentice) – but they succumbed to fever and other maladies that continually wrack Virginia. I also think the world of my parents. My mother is a master gardener, have you heard? She is known throughout Virginia as having a most beautiful garden, both vegetables and flowers. My father is Cape Merchant which simply means he is in charge of all the goods coming in from England. I help him at the colony store as does Shay. 

What is your heart’s deepest desire? To have women friends. I lost my dearest friend, a Powhatan princess, not long ago. I still have not recovered from that. Alas, being one of the few women amid so many oft unruly colony men is quite demanding betimes. I dream of marrying and having a family of my own someday but the clock is ticking and no man suits me. Well, once there was a sea captain…

What are you most afraid of? Indians. The Powhatan nation is vast and fearsome. Our colonists came under attack a few years back and many were killed but it was not without cause. English settlers – the Tassantassas – are invaders and land stealers to the Indians. My desire is to live in peace, learn from each other, share our bounty. But matters continue fractious and we must always watch our backs, both Indians and whites. 

Do you have a cherished possession? Aye, indeed, I do. A shell necklace a little Powhatan girl gave me. Her name is Watseka and she is one of the most delightful children I’ve ever met. The shell necklace has deep meaning for me and I plan to keep it for always. I have it on right now beneath my bodice. 

What do you expect the future will hold for you? I am quite smitten with a certain tobacco planter here in the Tidewater. He has a plantation up the James River with the most poetic name. But my, he is a force to reckon with! And terribly handsome and fiercely tempered, to boot! 

What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story? Pride and hasty judgements are my downfall. I repent of them daily but they still plague me. On a brighter note, I love the natural world. Virginia’s rivers and landscapes. The utter solitude and endless beauty. I hope to someday escape the stench and noise of James Towne. 

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you? I love to read and pen letters. And bake. My quince preserves are second to none, some say. And I love flowers, especially roses. 

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better! Pleased to have chatted with you on this bitter winter’s day. Thank you!

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award winner and the ECPA bestselling author of eleven
novels, including An Uncommon Woman, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting
Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Lacemaker, and A Bound Heart. She is a proud
mom to an American soldier and a career firefighter. When not at home in Kentucky,
she and her husband live in Washington State. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.

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