Meet Claire, the star of “The Storm Within,” the first book in the Women of Whitfield trilogy.
Claire is a gracious, well put-together 55-year-old woman. She has chin-length brushed chrome hair that she keeps in a stylish cut.
Claire left college to marry Stan Stapleton, a lifelong Whitfield resident, and spent the next twenty-plus years happily volunteering in the community, raising kids and caring for her family. Stan is a businessman with diversified investments, including apartments, commercial property, and farm land. They’ve achieved a high level of status in Whitfield and the surrounding communities. Claire loves to entertain, and has a flair for doing so. Her parties are well-attended and flawlessly executed in every detail.
Claire’s pet project is the Whitfield library. She’s a writer, a reader, and an education advocate. For her, the library is an essential component of the town, and it must remain useful and up-to-date. And she’s willing to do the work to make sure that happens.
But before she can implement her dream plans for the library, her world is shattered when her son is killed in combat in Iraq. His death has left a huge hole in her life, and she has trouble moving past her grief. Two years later, Stan leaves her for another woman, pushing Claire into a tailspin. What used to be social drinking becomes habit, and then dependency. Soon, she doesn’t recognize herself or her life.
When Claire is hospitalized, who shows up bearing gifts to help make her feel normal again? Mary. When Claire has to get to her daughter, but can’t drive herself? Mary is there in a flash. When Claire returns to a lonely, empty home, who appears on her doorstep? Mary and Dana. That’s what friends do.
“The Storm Within” is Claire’s story of reconnecting with her daughter, and finding purpose in her life – a reason to live again.
Here are a few snippets from “The Storm Within”
– “What’s to get ugly? We divide our assets, and it’s all done. We start over. Simple.” She reached for a cigarette and lighter.
– It dawned on her that if her husband had died, she’d be inundated with casseroles and dishes from people all over town. But since he’d simply walked out on her, she was left. Alone.
– Finally, Claire conceded defeat. With an exasperated sigh, she dusted her hands on her capris, and dropped onto the sofa, drawing the popcorn bowl into her lap. She scooped up a handful of popcorn and shoved it into her mouth. Then washed it down with a big gulp of chardonnay.
– She shook her head, tears burning her eyes as it all became clear. “So I got the house. A house I can’t live in. That’s why he gave it to me so easily. He made the judge think he was being kind and generous, but he knew all along. He knew I couldn’t stay here if he moved in with his mistress.”
– A giggle bubbled up inside her. Here she was, a woman with two houses, and no home. Apparently she’d really hit bottom. She’d become a homeless person.