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By Way of the Moonlight

By Elizabeth Musser

Description:

Two courageous young women, tied together by blood and shared passion, will risk everything to save what they love most.

For as long as she can remember, Allie Massey, a gifted physical therapist, has dreamed of making her grandparents’ ten-acre estate into a trauma recovery center using equine therapy—a dream her grandmother, Nana Dale, embraced wholeheartedly. But when her grandmother’s will is read, Allie is shocked to learn the property has been sold to a developer.

Decades earlier, after losing her prized filly to the Great Depression, headstrong Dale Butler sets out to bring her horse home again. In the years that follow, she finds friendship and love in a congenial new riding partner, until tragedy strikes in the midst of World War II.
As Allie searches her grandmother’s estate for a way to keep her dream alive, she uncovers bits and pieces of Nana Dale’s past with her champion filly, a young man named Tommy, and one fateful night in 1943 during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Book Takeaway:

practice gratitude; when life gets hard to stand, kneel

Why the author wrote this book:

As a Southern girl, most of my novels are set either in Southern France or the South in the USA, with Atlanta being my favorite city setting. But in this novel, I am not just focusing on Atlanta or even Buckhead, the neighborhood where I grew up and the setting of The Swan House. This time, I focus on the house and property where I grew up in Atlanta. I weave a fictional tale around my parents’ home on Nancy Creek Road as I ask questions about the worth of land, family history, memories, and shared dreams.

The inspiration for the Atlanta part of the novel came from growing up in the middle of Atlanta with a barn filled with horses in my backyard and several buried in the riding ring. Our five-acre property has been in the family since 1938, when my grandfather built a small house and a two-horse barn out in the boonies of Buckhead on a dirt road for his only child, my mom, to keep her horse and indulge her in her love of riding and showing. My mother was a great equestrian, showing and jumping until she was seventy, and I rode and showed as a child and teen.
Over the years, the house and barn have evolved into something of a rustic private paradise for our family. But estates like my parents’ are being bought up and sold to contractors who implode the house and create cluster mansions on the property, and that was my mother’s worst nightmare, and I feel the same way. So I’ve wrestled in my mind for years with the question of “How can we keep this property after my parents are gone?” My novels often touch on themes that mirror events and ruminations in my own life, and so I began to pen a novel about finding alleged dinosaur bones in the backyard of an estate.
At the same time, I serendipitously happened on a photo of a group of military men galloping their mounts along the beach of Hilton Head Island—my family’s favorite vacation spot for the past fifty years. But this photo was taken during the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII when the island was mostly deserted. I found myself cantering into the world of the Coast Guard Mounted Patrol, affectionately called the Sand Pounders, and what a wild ride that was!
So I created a dual-time novel that highlights the wonder and adventure of my mother’s life as a young equestrian star, referring to real events but scooting the storyline back to the 1930s and ’40s (Mom’s heyday was in the ’50s) combined with the intrigue of the Battle of the Atlantic, and then brought in my present-day protagonist as her granddaughter, who has dreamed for all her life of turning Nana Dale’s estate into an equine therapy center.

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