The Brothers Path by Martha Kennedy
Publisher: Free Magic Show Productions (July 4, 2016)
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: Oct/Nov, 2016
Available in: Print & ebook, 276 Pages
The world-shattering tumult of the Protestant Reformation enters the Schneebeli household when Rudolf Schneebeli is born two months early and dies a few minutes later without being baptized. Named for the well trodden track linking the Schneebeli farmhouse to the old Lunkhofen castle, The Brothers Path is set in a Swiss village near Zürich, between 1524 and 1531. It chronicles the lives of the six Schneebeli brothers, Heinrich, Hannes, Peter, Conrad, Thomann and Andreas. Each brother navigates his own path through, around or directly into the deadly drama of the Protestant reformation.
Two hundred years after the events recounted in The Brothers’ Path, thousands of immigrants, mostly Mennonites and Amish, left Switzerland for America looking for safety and freedom they could not find at home. If the novel teaches a “lesson” it would be a reminder why immigrants to America were adamant about separating church and state.
Praise for Brothers Path by Martha Kennedy
“A remarkable historical novel that follows the lives of a group of brothers in Reformation Switzerland as they struggle with their various beliefs while winning and losing family battles. I have read a previous book by this author, Martin of Gfenn, and am preparing to read her Savior. I am not usually a fan of histories, especially those dealing with crises of faith, but this author has found the secret of bringing these times and people alive. I enjoy her writing, and am humbled by learning what religion has wrought in this world for many times before our own.”-Amazon Reviewer
“I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Brothers Path’. Written about a pivotal time in our religious history, this was an interesting look at a large family who each had different opinions of the new Protestant thoughts presented to the population. Being a free thinker was quite new and families stretched as a result. This is a well written look at a very unique historical time in our history.”-R. Hueftle, Amazon Reviewer
“This beautifully and sensitively written book is the third of author Martha Kennedy’s historical novels set near Zurich, Switzerland. The story, which takes place in the 1520s, chronicles the lives, loves, and passions of the six Schneebeli brothers, whose changing and differing religious beliefs clash as the Protestant Reformation, promoted in the Swiss cantons by Ulrich Zwingli, sweeps through their lives.
The book begins with the premature birth of baby Rudolf Schneebeli into the Catholic Schneebeli family, and his death minutes later before he can be baptized. The fact that a beloved child must be buried, unbaptised, in unsanctified ground, begins the book and serves as a catalyst for remarkable changes within the family as some brothers are inspired to follow Zwingli’s new religion while others hold their Catholicism dear. The issue reverberates throughout the book to the last sentence, highlighting the complexities in people’s lives brought on by religious change.
Kennedy not only provides a picture of what the Reformation must have been like on a personal level, but her rendering of what the daily life of the Schneebeli family was probably like rounded out a very satisfying read.”-SusannahReads, Amazon Reviewer
Chapter 1, Rudolf, June 1524, continued from Words and Peace
“Verena! Where are you? What’s going on that you had to send Hugo after me!” Old Johann shouted from the front door. Seeing Frau Beck rushing toward him, he shivered in fear. “What has happened?”
“The baby, sir. He has come before-time,” said Frau Beck.
“She’s very tired and very ill. The baby took everything out of her, sir. I…” Frau Beck stopped.
“What, woman? Speak up!” Old Johann yelled in Frau Beck’s face.
“I told you last year if she became pregnant again, it was likely to kill her. She’s sleeping now, God bless her.” Frau Beck crossed herself. “It would be a kindness to her if you would leave her sleep. She’s in God’s hands.”
Old Johann’s face reddened. “You’re telling me she’s dying?”
Frau Beck nodded. “Yes, sir. It’s likely. She knows it. She’s been asking for Hannes.”
“She has not asked for me?”
“She knows you were sent for, that you would come home. Her fear is for the safety of her soul. It’s natural it would be so.”
Hearing Old Johann’s voice, Andreas walked out of his mother’s room and into the private courtyard that opened onto to the orchard. He could not bear to see his father or be anywhere near him. Anyway, the baby needed a coffin. Andreas walked between the late spring apple trees, with their bright leaves and fading blossoms, and opened the door to the apple shed. On the floor was a neat stack of boxes used for apples that were too good for cider. He found one that was clean and new and dusted it with an apple sack. When he returned to the house with it, his brothers, Heinrich and Thomann, were standing in the courtyard.
“Mother asked for Hannes,” Andreas told them.
“I’ll go.” Thomann, six years older than Andreas, most resembled Verena physically. He was short and sturdily built with red hair and changeable eyes. “It’s best you stay with Father, Heinrich.”
“Hurry,” said Heinrich, feeling a chill up his spine. The oldest, Heinrich was already in his mid-thirties, his father’s right-hand man at the mill and the father of four children. Thomann took off running in the direction of Angel Mountain Abbey.
“Where’s Father?” Heinrich asked Andreas.
“Gone to look in on Mother. I hope he will leave her be. She’s dying, thanks to him.”
Heinrich gestured toward the apple box. “What is that for?”
Heinrich looked at Andreas, not understanding.
Heinrich crossed himself
“Where was everyone?” Andreas asked. “Mother was alone!”
“It is Little Hans’ name day,” explained Heinrich. “Elsa took him and the other children to celebrate with Hannes. Mother was fine when we left this morning. We had no idea…” They did not notice that their father had joined them.
“It would have changed nothing,” Old Johann snarled at his sons. “Nothing.”
Andreas turned his back on his father and went back to his mother’s room. He lined the apple box with clean linen and gently placed tiny Rudolf inside. “There, little one,” he whispered. He set the box out of the way on a table near the arched window.
“Where is Hannes?”
“He’ll be here, Father,” said Heinrich.
“Why didn’t Thomann take a horse?”
“I don’t know. He should have.”
“Pray God Hannes gets here before it’s too late.” The old man crossed himself. “I won’t have Verena damned because Thomann has dawdled.”
Thomann appeared at the bottom of the hill, running. Hannes was close behind him, lifting his long, white monk’s robes so he would not trip. Elsa and the children came soon after.
“Go to her!” said Old Johann to Hannes before he’d even reached the courtyard. “There’s no time to waste.”
Hannes, panting, nodded and hurried inside. He looked quickly at the tiny baby. The midwife sat beside Verena’s bed, her face red with crying. “Frau Beck,” said Hannes softly.
“She’s been asking for you, Father Hannes.” The midwife stood to give Hannes the chair. “I’ll be outside, Father.”
Verena was wavering between two worlds. “Mother,” Hannes began, but his voice caught in his throat. He shook his head to regain himself, then placed her rosary in her hands. “Do you sincerely beg our Lord for forgiveness of your sins?”
He opened the cross-shaped, silver box he wore on his belt for the services of Last Rites and took out a small vial of Holy Oil and a wafer that had been blessed by the Holy Father in Rome. With the oil, he traced the shape of a cross on his mother’s forehead and placed the wafer between her lips. He knew she could not eat it, but it would protect her from Satan, who could take her soul at the last minute.
“May our Heavenly Father pardon you whatever sins or faults you have committed. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, his holy mother, Mary, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph and St. Verena, name saint of our sister and my mother, Verena.” He made the sign of the cross over her body. It was not long before she followed little Rudolf in death.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Frau Beck returned to care for Verena before Hannes invited the family into the room. “I’m sorry, Father Hannes,” she said as she closed Verena’s eyes. “We will miss her. It is a shame, at her time of life. She might have lived to enjoy her grandchildren. God rest her sweet soul.” She laid the apple box with the small babe beside Verena on the bed.
Hannes could only nod.
“Shall I call them in, Father Hannes?”
“I’ll do it. It’s all right, Frau Beck. Father, Heinrich, Elsa, Thomann, Andreas, you can come in.”
“What of the baby?” Hannes asked his father, “Did you baptize him?”
“I wasn’t here. Only Andreas was here.”
”How long did he live?”
“And you did not baptize him?” Hannes was stunned. Surely it was the right and obvious thing to do to ensure the Kingdom of Heaven to their tiny brother.
This excerpt will continue at Broken Teepee on October 25th
About the Author
Award winning author, Martha Kennedy has published three works of historical fiction. Her first novel, Martin of Gfenn, which tells the story of a young fresco painter living in 13th century Zürich, was awarded the Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society Indie Review and the BRAG Medallion from IndieBRAG in 2015.
Her second novel, Savior, also an BRAG Medallion Honoree (2016), tells the story of a young man in the 13th century who fights depression by going on Crusade. Her newest novel, The Brothers Path, a loose sequel to Savior, looks at the same family three hundred years later as they find their way through the Protestant Reformation.
Kennedy has also published many short-stories and articles in a variety of publications from the Denver Post to the Business Communications Quarterly.
Kennedy was born in Denver, Colorado and earned her undergraduate degree in American Literature from University of Colorado, Boulder and her graduate degree in American Literature from the University of Denver. She has taught college and university writing at all levels, business communication, literature and English as a Second Language.
For many years she lived in the San Diego area, most recently in Descanso, a small town in the Cuyamaca Mountains. She has recently returned to Colorado to live in Monte Vista in the San Luis Valley.
To learn more about Kennedy’s award-winning novels, Martin of Gfenn and Savior, check out her Amazon author page
Check out the other blogs on this tour
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Oct 4 Kickoff & Giveaway
Rockin’ Book Reviews Oct 5 Review & Giveaway
Words and Peace Oct 6 Guest Post, Excerp, & Giveaway
Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings Oct 7 Review
SolaFide Book Club Oct 10 Guest Post
Serendipity Oct 11 Review & Interview
Books, books, and more books Oct 20 Review
StoreyBook Reviews Oct 25 Excerpt & Giveaway
Lisa’s Writopia Oct 28 Review & Guest Post
Deal Sharing Aunt Nov 3 Review & Giveaway
Broken Teepee Nov 4 Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway
Infinite House of Books Nov 8 Interview
Celticlady’s Reviews Nov 22 Excerpt
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Nov 30 Review