Letters (1855) literary fiction, 47,000 words
Dr. James Grey, a general physician and surgeon with a specialty in mid-wifery/obstetrics, is summoned to an emergency and leaves an early-morning note to Sadie, his wife and primary assistant. The year is 1855. The place is the countryside surrounding their rural town in upstate New York. What follows is seven weeks of (love) letters between them as he is called to one crisis after another, the final four weeks assisting at The Hollow, a home for girls nearly one hundred miles to the north. The letters concern patients, gossip, politics, adventure -- the stories people tell, stories told and retold, witnessed and overheard, entwined and nested. Many address ordinary household concerns -- the purchase of a new pair of boots, preserving apples, the health of a horse, James's favorite spoon gone missing. Midst the ordinary, there are the extraordinary stories of babies stolen, a runaway slave, an illicit affair, a hidden pregnancy, a fake birth, and a mistaken baby, who vanishes after a mishap at the fair when a lantern tips during a Fox sisters' séance.
Above all, however, the fiction is about story-telling and perhaps is best described as a long series of threaded vignettes.