THE COVENANT KEEPERS
Based On a True Story
by Andrea L. Simpson
After a life-threatening accident before becoming the eye doctor to China’s Empress Dowager, a young American must escape death in the infamous 1900 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 broken spine. 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 face his own dragons and find a purpose for his life. Having fought to survive the riding accident, he refuses to let his injury define him. Inspired by the lives of David and Jacques, Will finds hope, meaning, and help when he needs it most.
Raised in Minneapolis, Will 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 challenges awaits the couple and their children. Will believes healing wounds equals healing hearts, but he encounters resistance from his superiors who deem preaching must take precedence over medicine. Like his ancestors, Will feels torn between principles and loyalties, and must find his way.
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 appreciation 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 European colonialism results in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 — the biggest disaster in missionary history — Will again draws from the tales of his ancestors. As hundreds of Boxers burst through the front gate of the 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 like his ancestors did.
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.
THE COVENANT KEEPERS, is a 95,000-word historical novel is inspired by the true story of the author's great-grandfather in 1900 and several 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 keepsakes passed down through the generations. She researched ancient volumes from a Scottish highlands 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.