On 11 June 1805, a great fire swept through Detroit, Michigan, burning the city to the ground. After the fire, a local priest, Father Gabriel Richard, penned: “Speramus meliora; resurgent cineribus,” which translates to “We hope for better things; it shall arise from the ashes.” This saying became Detroit’s motto.
Three women…Three eras…One struggle. We Hope for Better Things is the tale of Mary, Nora, and Elizabeth, each living in Detroit and/or Lapeer County, Michigan but in different eras: Civil War/Reconstruction, Civil Rights movement, and present day. Bound by blood, these women also share a compassionate nature, resilient spirit, and innate ability to see below the surface to what lies beneath.
Elizabeth, an unemployed journalist, puts her investigative skills to work, uncovering the lives and loves of her great-aunt Nora and her great-great-grandmother Mary. Along the way, Elizabeth unearths family secrets deeply buried and shines a light on racism then and now.
Aside from prejudice, several recurring elements helped connect the story, including quilting/sewing, photography, and gardening. For me, this was one of the most affecting aspects of this novel—from crazy quilts and homemade clothes to photographs and glass plate negatives to catalpa trees and wild parsnips.
Stitched together like the quilts lovingly cherished by these women, this colorful, compelling story is a carefully crafted piece by piece, page by page. A must-read for any history buff or romance lover, I would highly recommend We Hope for Better Things.