THE COVENANT KEEPERS
Based On An Untold True Story
by Andrea L. Simpson
A sweeping historical novel from 1681's Scottish Covenanter and French Huguenot Protestant convert-or-die era to China's life-threatening anti-Western Boxer Rebellion in 1900, The Covenant Keepers is based on the extraordinary life of William Reid Faries, M.D., the American missionary eye doctor to China's Empress Dowager CiXi, and his two remarkable ancestors.
Young WILL FARIES thinks he’s invincible until an unexpected storm causes his horse to spook. Fracturing his back in the accident, Will is bereft. During his long convalescence, he learns about horrific persecutions his ancestors faced. DAVID FARRIE was one of the five famous Scottish Covenanter martyrs during English King Charles II’s “Killing Times.” JACQUES COLBERT was a secret Protestant Huguenot who had to escape from his granduncle, French Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who spearheaded King Louis XIV’s persecution of the Huguenots. Learning how these men met adversity transforms Will’s mindset. Their resilience empowers him to find a purpose for his life.
Raised in Minneapolis, Will refuses to let his injury define him. He leaves to study ophthalmology in New York and Paris. He uses his education to serve an important role as a mission hospital doctor in China. He falls in love with PRISCILLA CHITTICK, a young music teacher. Impressed by his thoughtfulness and humanity, she marries him and moves to China. There, a series of hardships awaits the couple and their children. Will believes healing wounds equals healing hearts, but he encounters resistance from his superiors who believe conversions must take precedence over medicine.
As Will’s reputation spreads, he is asked to perform cataract surgery on the little son of GENERAL YUAN SHI KA’I, the wily Shandong Province governor who later became the president of the republic after the overthrow of the Ching dynasty. In appreciation, the general escorts Will to the Forbidden City to bring eyeglasses to the Dragon Court’s EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI. When seething animosity toward Western colonialism results in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 — the biggest disaster in missionary history — Will draws from the escapes of his ancestors. As hundreds of Boxers burst through the front gate of the Wei Hsien mission, looting and burning it and his hospital, he must marshal his young family over the back wall in his own attempt to escape death.
THE COVENANT KEEPERS is a 98,000-word historical novel inspired by the true untold story of Will Faries in China from 1888-1903 and two Covenanter ancestors in 1681. It is based on Faries family documents, letters, journals, charts, memoirs, interviews of descendants, and a jade dragon netsuke and gold Huguenot cross keepsakes passed down through the generations. The author researched volumes from a Scottish highlands antiquarian bookseller and in a university China missionary archives. She visited the protagonists' 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.