The Manning Girl, a novel
Forthcoming November 7, 2023.
A single man struggles with the unexpected challenges of fatherhood in a modern reimagining of Eliot's Silas Marner.
1992. Tyler Manning—high school teacher, part-time farmer, bachelor of 38—is planning his first day of summer vacation when a strange car approaches his Kansas farmhouse. By the time the battered Ford departs, Tyler is holding a three-week-old infant, placed in his arms by a girl of 15. The baby's father, the girl says, is his estranged brother. Woven throughout the narrative of May Manning's upbringing—assisted by long-time neighbors and school colleagues—is the parallel story of Tyler and his younger brother, the charming but deceitful Mickey Manning. The possibility of Mickey's return haunts Tyler throughout May's childhood. Does he even know May exists? When he does reappear, he brings unexpected danger into their lives. The Manning Girl reimagines George Eliot's 1860 fable, Silas Marner, and places it in a contemporary Midwestern frame, following the girl and her uncle/father from May's unexpected arrival in her 21st year. Like its forebear, The Manning Girl explores, with tenderness and humor, the unique situation of a single father supported by a surprising community.
"Set in rural Kansas, Catherine Browder's The Manning Girl explores the redemptive power of parenting and community. Tyler Manning's life is transformed when a young mother leaves his own younger brother's baby at his doorstep. Tyler is of Free State Kansas stock, sturdy and deliberate, a meticulously organized industrial arts teacher who can make anything. Suddenly he must make a family. Uncle Tyler becomes Delia May's legal father and a model caretaker. But beneath this tale of domestic striving is secrecy and strife, anger and resentment, the looming presence of the backstory.
Browder contrasts a family's difficult past with a peaceful and hard-won present. The Manning Girl, heartwarming and wise, shows us that what we care about most can be made: hope, family, love, a bright future."
—Thomas Fox Averill, author of Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr: A Novel
"Catherine Browder's The Manning Girl is a beautifully-crafted book about the joy, pain, and growth that the advent of an abandoned baby creates in the life of an emotionally frozen man. In graceful, lucid prose, Browder examines important themes, familial estrangement, sibling rivalry, the immense challenge of raising a child alone, and the joys and perils of lifelong friendship. The heartwarming story of Tyler Manning's fumbling emotional growth as he fosters the childhood and adolescence of the baby dumped on his doorstep will entrance readers."
—Linda Rodriguez, author of Every Hidden Fear
Available through: Regalhousepublishing.com, flagshipbooks.com, Ravenbookstore.com, or your favorite Independent Bookseller; Amazon; Barnes & Noble.
Reviews: Shelf Awareness: https://www.shelf-awareness.com/sar-issue.html?issue=1203#m22760
Podcast: KKFI Radio, 90.1FM. https://kkfi.org/program-episodes/artspeak-radio-end-of-january-2024/