Character Spotlight ~
Eli & Priscilla
Jody Hedlund's debut novel, The Preacher's Bride, was a winner and I am confidant her second story will be just as captivating. Enjoy meeting this pioneering couple!
Over to you, Jody:~
Brief physical description
Dr. Eli Ernest: He’s a tall, broad-shouldered man with blue eyes the color of a winter sky. Due to his long months traveling west during an exploratory trip, he has a tanned, weathered face and dusty brown hair that is over-long with sun-bleached streaks. He also has a mysterious scar that cuts a thin white path from the corner of his left eye to his cheek.
Priscilla White: She is known for her beauty and poise. She’s of medium height, blond hair, grey-blue eyes that are large and soft, unspoiled skin, “text-book” perfect form, and lady-like in every sense of the word. (This description is taken from an observer of the real Narcissa Whitman who is the inspiration behind the book.)
Dr. Eli Ernest needs to be played by Kevin Costner whose rugged, scruffy look in Dances With Wolves is exactly the way I envisioned Dr. Ernest.
Priscilla White needs to be played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Priscilla is a beautiful and elegant lady with Gwyneth’s looks in Emma.
Strengths and weaknesses
Dr. Eli Ernest: Eli is a man full of passion and unafraid of danger, and yet he’s willing to learn and grow through the challenges he faces. His biggest weakness is that he’s too independent, wanting to accomplish too much in his own strength without having to rely upon others during the journey west. He comes to understand his need for the people God brings into his life.
Priscilla White: She’s not physically strong and she’s a bit naïve, and yet she’s determined and courageous. Her biggest weakness is her pride. At the beginning of the story she believes she is the perfect missionary candidate because of her piety, education, and upbringing. But during the dangerous trip, she begins to understand that when God chooses to use someone, he looks much deeper than a person’s outward qualifications.
Quirk (if any)
Priscilla has a special cameo pin that plays an important role throughout the book. And as I mentioned, Eli has a mysterious scar on his face as well as on his hands.
Both the cameo and the scar play roles in each of the characters’ growth throughout the book.
Your inspiration for the character
This book is inspired by the true-life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of the overland trail and travel west. In early 1836, she married Dr. Whitman and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.
It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.
Background to the story
Priscilla White bears the painful knowledge that she’ll never be able to be a mother. Having felt God’s call to missionary work, she determines to remain single, put her pain behind her, and answer God’s call.
Dr. Eli Ernest wants to start a medical clinic and mission in unsettled Oregon Country. He’s not interested in taking a wife because of the dangers of life in the west and the fact that no white woman has ever attempted the overland crossing.
But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field. Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs.
Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.
Thanks for the fabulous spotlight, Jody ~ now my copy has arrived, I can't wait to dive in!