Of Words & Music is the story of Lilah Kimball, a sixty-year-old widow who has pretty much given up on life. Bethany Freemont is Lilah’s twelve-year-old granddaughter with most of her life ahead of her. The two have never met. Then a tragic accident orphans Bethany, and Lilah is forced to take the child into her home, at least temporarily. Lilah and Bethany are at odds from day one, incapable of exchanging two words without conflict. Lilah thinks the child is impertinent; Bethany thinks her grandmother is cold and mean. Lilah’s son, a middle-aged accountant, is horrified that his mother would entertain the idea of raising this child of a sister he hated, but Lilah’s long-time friend and housekeeper thinks Bethany may be Lilah’s last chance at life. While her son tries to undermine any effort at reconciliation between the two, the housekeeper fights to bring Lilah and Bethany together. As the weeks pass, Lilah begins to see herself—and her life— through Bethany’s eyes, and she doesn't like what she sees. Bethany begins to suspect her grandmother may not be the witch she once thought her. Then startling information comes to light that threatens to destroy all they’re trying to build. Set in Atlanta, Georgia, Of Words & Music is the story of two women divided by more than their ages, but by a lifetime of misunderstanding. It is a story of family love and loss—and renewal.
Lynda gives an overview of the book:
The only sound in the room was the monotonous ticking of the huge grandfather clock in the corner. There were no traffic noises, no honking horns or screeching brakes this far back off Riverside Drive. Usually, Lilah Kimball found the silence comforting. With social worker Felicity Greenlea sitting in a nearby chair, the quiet hung in the air like a toxic red mist.
Lilah relaxed her tightly clasped hands. “The girl means nothing to me. Surely you can understand that.”
The young social worker flushed under Lilah’s regard and swallowed hard. “I understand that you don’t really know Bethany, but—”
“I’ve never laid eyes on the girl.” Nor heard of her, Lilah thought. Another oversight, Felicity Greenlea had called it, like not being informed of her daughter’s death until three months after the fact. Still, if they thought they could compound their behavior by attempting to foist a strange girl off on her, they could think again.
“You are her grandmother, Mrs. Kimball.”
“By blood only.”
“By blood and legality,” the girl said with more force, “and that is relevant, since both of Bethany’s parents are deceased and you are her closest living relative. You and your son.”
The silence hummed as Lilah waited for the woman’s next sally. Finally, she could bear it no longer. “Didn’t her father have any people?”
“None that we’re aware of and none that Bethany knows about."
“This girl—she was their only child?”
“Was there nothing in Elizabeth’s will about godparents or anything of that sort?”
“There was no will.”
A deep sigh escaped before Lilah could contain it. She turned and stared across the room.
“Mrs. Kimball, I’m only asking you to consider taking Bethany temporarily. As a trial. If the two of you find the situation intolerable, we’ll make other arrangements. We will continue to investigate her father’s family. There may be relatives somewhere. On your side, there’s your son. We could approach him if you wish. He and his wife might be more receptive.”
“Don’t bother,” Lilah said. “I can tell you right now that his answer will be a resounding no. He and his sister were never close.”
“Perhaps I could understand that kind of reaction if his sister was asking him for a loan,” Felicity said, frustration clear in her voice, “but she’s dead.”
Lilah’s breath caught in her throat, but she kept her face impassive.
“We’re talking about a human being here, Mrs. Kimball. A child.”
“A twelve-year-old young woman.”
“Who is still very much a child and very much alone. Can you imagine the emotional upheaval she’s been through in the last several years? According to our records, her father died of adult leukemia after battling the disease for years. Then for Bethany to lose her mother this suddenly? She’s been through more than anyone her age should have to experience.”
Lilah rose and walked to the fireplace, swept clean now in June. She had learned more about her daughter’s life in the last hour than in the previous fourteen years. She hadn’t realized Elizabeth lived in Athens, Georgia, with her professor husband. So close?
Lynda Fitzgerald has been writing all her life. She studied creative writing at both Georgia Perimeter College, where she was the winner of a Creative Writing Scholarship, and at Emory University. A native of Central Florida, Lynda now lives just outside Atlanta, GA with...