This week’s free read is “Dr. Deane’s Way,” a short story written by “Faye Huntington.” That’s the pen name adopted by Isabella’s dear friend Theodosia Toll Foster.
Isabella first met Theodosia when they were teens at Oneida Seminary in New York. It was Theodosia who launched Isabella’s writing career by secretly submitting one of Isabella’s stories to a writing contest. Isabella didn’t discover what Theodosia had done until she received a letter informing her that her story won first prize in the contest!
In return, Isabella sparked Theodosia’s career as an author. In 1872, Theodosia was 34 years old and pregnant with her second child when her husband James died unexpectedly. With a farm to run, and a toddler and newborn baby to support, Theodosia needed a reliable income. Isabella asked her to collaborate on one of her books, and Theodosia’s career as an author was born.
Theodosia’s story “Dr. Deane’s Way” was written in 1875. Here’s the description:
When it comes to managing his family, Dr. Deane firmly believes his way is best. He methodically doles out chores to his children and rules the kitchen by ensuring his wife cooks only the blandest food for their diets. And when two of his children accept Christ as their Saviour, Dr. Deane believes he has the right to interfere with that, too.
But when Dr. Deane’s daughter Lois rebels against his rigid rules, Dr. Deane must seek help from an unexpected source if he is to cure Lois of her hoydenish ways.
You can read this story on your phone, ipad, Kindle, or other electronic device.
Or you can read it as a PDF document on your computer screen. You can also print the story to share with friends.
Click on the book cover to choose your preferred format from BookFunnel.com:
You can read more about Isabella’s friendship with Theodosia in these previous posts:
At the height of her popularity, Isabella Alden was one of the most widely-read authors in the world. One of the things that made her so popular—and unique—was the varying ages of her readers: she had just as many children who were dedicated fans of her books as she had adult fans. And they all wrote letters to her.
She received letters by the thousands, addressed to her publisher, to her home, and to the offices of her magazine, The Pansy. And she answered them all!
Some fans wrote to request her autograph and a photo. Others asked for advice on how to become a great author or they sent their own manuscripts and asked for her opinion.
Some asked for advice on other topics, from how to get a good husband to the best way to stop fingernail biting. One fan even asked for pieces of her best dress so they could be sewn into a patchwork quilt the fan was sewing!
But the fan mail Isabella received most often was about her book Ester Ried. Ester Ried was incredibly popular and prompted scores of readers to send Isabella letters thanking her for the book’s message.
Fans wrote to Isabella about how they saw themselves in Ester’s struggles and her impatience with life’s daily annoyances. But mostly, readers identified with the lessons Ester learned; they took to heart the promise that God would bring peace and happiness to their lives, if only they trusted in Him.
What started as a single book soon blossomed into an ongoing series. The Ester Ried series gave fans of the original book glimpses into the lives of the characters they loved. Readers grabbed up each new story about the Ried family members and their trials as they grew up, married, and learned to trust God to help them through a sometimes difficult world.
Two years after Ester Ried was published came Julia Ried, a sequel that focused on Ester’s younger sister Julia and the lessons she learns about faith in times of temptation. It also brought readers up to date on Abbie Ried’s story after the tragic turn her life took in Ester Ried.
The following year Isabella published the third book in the series, The King’s Daughter. In this book Isabella introduced the character of Miss Dell Bronson. Unlike Ester or Julia, Dell was rock solid in her faith and trusted God in her daily life, but she still had challenges to face. And she still had lessons to learn in Wise and Otherwise, the next book in the series.
Isabella commissioned her best friend Theodosia Foster to write book five. Echoing and Re-Echoing (written under Theodosia’s pen name Faye Huntington) centers around Ralph Ried, Abbie’s brother, who, as a new minister, struggles to reach his flock through his Sunday sermons.
Isabella’s fans particularly loved the sixth book in the series, Ester Ried Yet Speaking, because it included the character of Flossy Shipley. Flossy was originally introduced to readers in Four Girls at Chautauqua. In Ester Ried Yet Speaking readers got to find out what happened to Flossy after her marriage to Evan Roberts. They also met Dr. Everett, Hester Mason, and Joy Saunders, who were the main characters in Isabella’s later book, Workers Together; An Endless Chain.
Isabella waited nine years before she published Ester Ried’s Namesake. It was intended to be the last book in the series, but fans wrote to beg for more.
Even Isabella’s niece, Grace Livingston Hill, encouraged her to write “one more long story.” Grace suggested she write about Ester Ried’s granddaughter or great-granddaughter, and thereby reach an entirely new generation of readers with the original book’s message.
But by that time, Isabella was 86 years old and in failing health. One more “long story” was beyond her abilities, she told Grace. “You have altogether too high an opinion of me.”
Many fans of the series think the Ester Ried books are perfect, just as they are; the only difference is that today’s readers have the option to read the books electronically. A new generation of Ester Ried e-books is available on Amazon and other e-book retail sites.
Have you read the books in the Ester Ried Series? Which book is your favorite?
You can click on any of the book covers in this post to find out more about each title.