The Manning Girl

Regal House Titles
$19.95 - $28.95
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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 fifteen. 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 to her twenty-first year. Like its forebear, The Manning Girl explores, with tenderness and humor, the unique situation of a single father, supported by a surprising community.

Praise for The Manning Girl

“‘Without that surge of mystery energy,’ muses a neighbor in this wise and moving novel, ‘no child would ever survive.’ Nor would any novel. Fortunately, there are frequent surges of mystery energy propelling The Manning Girl and guiding the book’s title character from swaddling clothes to wedding gown. Here is a compelling coming-of-age story, not just for the girl, but equally for the bewildered bachelor uncle who raises her. A beautiful book.”

—Roderick Townley, author of The Great Good Thing trilogy

“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 back story. 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.”

—Tom Fox Averill, author of the novel, Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr

“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

“It is often said that great writers are in an ongoing literary conversation among themselves, and with The Manning Girl, Catherine Browder has created an American classic with the geographical richness of detail, sociological fullness, and psychological acuity of George Eliot’s classic nineteenth-century British classic, Silas Marner. I rarely read contemporary novels that unfold with such a sure-footed compelling narrative voice that draws the reader into such a vividly realized community. A vividly realized family drama set in a vividly realized rural Kansas community, the novel reminds us of a kind of communal interconnectedness and genuine decency not on prominent display these days. Without any sentimentality, without ignoring contentious social issues such as racism, homophobia, drug cartels, or bullying, we are drawn into a community largely populated by good people. How rare and restorative it feels to inhabit this world! The novel is a quiet but strong tour de force.”

—Marly Swick, author of Evening News