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LITERARY LOCAL | Sarah Barthel of St. Charles

Updated: Feb 2


SARAH BARTHEL OF ST. CHARLES House of Silence St. Charles resident, Sarah Barthel is a stay-at-home mom to two lovely girls, Lucille (6) and Ruby (2). She and her husband, Clark, share many fun activities with the girls such as science experiments, visiting parks, and making mud puddles, but when Sarah has her time alone, you will find her working hard writing her next book.

Sarah’s current novel is set in 1875 at the Bellevue Sanitarium in Batavia, famous for housing Mary Todd Lincoln as a patient ten years after the assassination of her husband, President Abraham Lincoln. Today, the Sanitarium still stands as a historic building and apartment complex. “When we moved to St. Charles, we had looked at some houses in Batavia, and our realtor told me about Mary Lincoln’s stay at Bellevue,” says Sarah. “I found the story fascinating, and I loved that it was part of my backyard’s history.”

A book idea began to weave in and out of her head and formulated into House of Silence. It is a story of a woman, Isabelle, who witnesses her fiancé committing a murder. When no one would believe the atrocity, and facing marriage, she pretends to be insane and is committed to Bellevue. Although using the institute as a sanctuary, Isabelle knows she will never be safe unless she can prove her fiancé’s guilt. She conspires with Mary Todd Lincoln, a fellow patient, for assistance. The two women lean on each other to discover new lives of their own. “The story,” comments Sarah, “gave me a lot of freedom in what I wanted to say about women at that time and how things have and have not changed.”

House of Silence was published through Kensington Press this year. They came back to Sarah with a two-book deal, and she is currently working on that second book, Ziegfield Girls. House of Silence can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. –Mindy Kyle

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