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Read-along: Adventures at the Broadmere

Hopefully, this story was a bit of fun for everyone. The last story contained some pretty profound material in that question that the girls had to deal with from the baptism. I wanted to pivot back to two things the Every Tuesday Club does well — enjoy their time together, and help people with their problems. And what better place to do that than the Broadmere Restaurant & Pub.


Coming back to a friendly place

The real inspiration for the Broadmere’s neighborhood is the town of Parkville, Missouri. It still has some of the charm — and hilly terrain — it had back in the 1800s.

If you got the updated version of Queen Abigail the Wise that I came out with last year, you got a bonus story that explains how it was that St. Michael the Archangel Church came to be running a restaurant on the side. (I still love that idea, by the way, but practical people tell me it would be difficult to work out all the details of a church-owned restaurant.)

We came back to the restaurant in chapter 8 of Vanessa the Wonder-worker. At that time, the name is Broadmere House, and we see a little of its hard-working owner, Miss Hemmings. By the time of this story in book three, set about six months later, the name has been shortened to the Broadmere, and Shannon Hemmings has quite a few problems to solve. Just as well, then, that the ETC are having a meeting there. With typical inefficient efficiency, they manage to take care of both a cyberattack threat and a troublesome customer, all in one evening. But before they can get to work, Miss Hemmings has to start out by helping them.


Romance, mystery and Irish music

Photini isn’t always as nice of a person as she would like to believe. But then, who of us is?

Oh dear. Nice little Photini has boy trouble.

Well, we knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. And when I was thinking over the five different girls, I thought that of the bunch, she would be most likely to get a little head-over-heels, if a boy ever looked her way. In my experience, shy people like her can be most prone to losing their heads to even a whiff of romance.

When I was twelve, it seemed like all the girls in my sixth grade class woke up all at once to the existence of boys. Not in any kind of R-rated way, or even PG-13. It was all about which ones were cute, and how cute, and whether or not they looked your way. (Usually, they didn’t. Or pretended not to.) I doubt that my teachers or my parents had any idea how totally giddy I was about it. I don’t think I ever went as far as writing the name of whoever was my crush of the moment, in the way that lands Photini in such an embarrassing situation, but it was only because I was too aware of the risk of such clear evidence of my affections.

Besides, as Miss Hemmings so sensibly points out, the boy that you’re smitten with today is just an excuse to ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” a month later.

In return for this sound advice, the girls get involved in helping Shannon Hemmings to discover the culprit in her kitchen staff. That is cleared up by a little more of Xenia’s particular gift for seeing past what everyone else sees. She may be a little socially awkward, but she also makes connections and leaps of logic that everyone else misses. We’ll come back to that gift of hers a little bit more in the next story.

For now, it’s enough that she and Photini work out the problem. And the other three girls come up with an entirely improbable prank that sorts of the dilemma of Mrs. terHorst, and the evening is a triumph.

Well, … almost.


Family matters

Hidden in all of this is another piece of the puzzle about Maggie’s problem. Six or seven months before, she had mistakenly thought her mother was pregnant, and Maggie was delighted. And more than delighted, she got her heart set on it. So much so that it was hard for her to understand why the months dragged on without it coming about. And in the end, sending her into a kind of tailspin of emotion, when her mother tells her that she doesn’t think she wants to have any more children.

Why does that hit Maggie so hard? Even the other girls don’t understand. I’ll save some of that reveal for the end of the book. But I can say that it’s all tied in with those awful problems you begin to have in your teenage years — what they used to call an “identity crisis.” When you’re a kid, you know who you are and what you’re part of. When you get older, you’re less and less sure. You begin to want to know how you’ll fit into the bigger, wider world. That can be a thrilling proposition for some; for others, it may be very upsetting.

And for Christians, of any age, there can be a problem with having unmet expectations that become the focus of your prayer life. Maggie will begin to find out about that, and we’ll look in on her again a few months later in the next story.

Next week: Vanessa and Xenia both have difficult questions to wrestle with in “Labels.”

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