FACE YOUR DRAGONS
The Dragon Court's Eye Doctor
by Andrea L. Simpson
After learning to cope with a disability and being appointed as the eye doctor to China’s Empress Dowager, a young American must escape death in the Boxer Rebellion.
Young WILL FARIES thinks he’s invincible until an unexpected storm causes his horse to spook. Fracturing his back in the accident, Will contracts bone tuberculosis and is left with a twisted spine. During his long convalescence, he hears stories about challenges his ancestors faced. DAVID FARRIE was one of the five famous Scottish Covenanter martyrs during King Charles’ “Killing Times.” JACQUES COLBERT was a secret Huguenot who had to escape from his granduncle Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who spearheaded French King Louis XIV’s persecution of the Huguenots. Learning how these men met adversity transforms Will’s mindset. Their resilience empowers him to face his own dragons and find a purpose for his life. Having fought to survive the accident, he refuses to let his disability define him. Inspired by the lives of David and Jacques, he finds hope and meaning.
Raised in the Midwest, Will leaves to study ophthalmology in New York and Paris. He uses his education to serve an important role as a missionary doctor in China. He falls in love with PRISCILLA CHITTICK, a music teacher. Impressed by his thoughtfulness and humanity, she moves with him to China. There, a series of challenges awaits the couple and eventually their children. Will, for whom healing wounds equals healing hearts, encounters resistance from his superiors who deem preaching more important than medicine. Like his ancestors, Will feels torn between principles and loyalties, and must learn to choose.
As Will’s reputation spreads, he is asked to perform cataract surgery on the toddler son of GENERAL YUAN SHI KA’I, the wily Shandong Province governor. In thanks for the good outcome, the general escorts Will to the Forbidden City to bring eyeglasses to the Dragon Court’s EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI. When seething animosity toward colonialism results in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 — the biggest disaster in missionary history — Will again draws from the stories of his ancestors. As hundreds of Boxers burst through the front gate of the mission, looting and burning, he marshals his young family over the back wall to safety.
No story exists in a vacuum. Each of us lives within the context of our times and must deal with the forces, influences, traditions, and beliefs existing when we were born and live. Some of us are fortunate enough to have family stories passed down to us. Others study history both for themselves and humanity, hoping to avoid repeating its mistakes. There are many parallels to our world today...ones our ancestors' worlds set in motion to our times.
FACE YOUR DRAGONS, The Dragon Court's Eye Doctor, is a 95,000-word historical novel is inspired by the true story of the author's great-grandfather and two of their ancestors in 1681. It is based on old family documents, letters, journals, charts, memoirs, interviews of family elders, and a jade dragon netsuke and gold Huguenot cross passed down through the generations. She researched ancient volumes from a Scottish antiquarian bookseller and in missionary archives and libraries. She visited her ancestors’ multiple homelands and traced their escape routes. She became acutely aware of their suffering through epic purges lost in time. Their stories stand for those of countless other survivors of forgotten events.