EllieAna Hale

 Catherine Browder, a familiar face in the Historic Northeast Neighborhood, reveals her debut novel, The Manning Girl. A playwright, editor, short-story extraordinaire and classroom professional, Browder is commonly well-known for her contributions to short story literature. 

Recently Browder jumped into the world of novels with her first published novel The Manning Girl, a work that has been decades in the making. 

This novel follows her work, Resurrection City, a collection of short stories that drew inspiration from the 2011 triple disaster in Northeastern Japan, immersing readers in the complexities of communities grappling with the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. 

“Resurrection City is a book about loss, and this book is about gain,” Browder said.

Despite dedicating over a decade to crafting The Manning Girl, Browder herself remains mystified by the novel’s origins. 

“The origins of this dear novel are a mystery,” Browder said, adding a fascinating appeal to the anticipation surrounding her debut novel.

Drawing from some inspiration from the work of George Eliot’s Silas Marner, Browder crafts a contemporary tale set against the backdrop of the Midwest. 

The synopsis of The Manning Girl introduces readers to “Tyler Manning, a high school teacher, part-time farmer, and 38-year-old bachelor.” His plans for a tranquil summer vacation are disrupted when a beat up Ford arrives at his farmhouse near Stoll, Kansas, leaving him cradling a three-week-old infant placed in his arms by a 15-year-old girl. The baby’s father, according to the girl, is Tyler Manning’s brother Mickey, estranged from the family for years. 

If you’re a literature fan, you’ll recognize the plotline from George Eliot’s 1860 work, Silas Marner. Browder however, instead of resetting the Marner story in the 19th century, places the story in 1992, just outside of Lawrence, Kansas, weaving into the story line all the twists and turns of single fatherhood in the twenty-first century. Also part of the story is the return of the prodigal son Mickey and the danger he brings with him when he unexpectedly reappears on Tyler Manning’s doorstep.   

Browder’s unique narrative style infuses humor and authenticity into the portrayal of the particular situation of  single father Tyler Manning as he navigates the challenges of parenthood with the unexpected support of his community.

To commemorate the long-awaited release of The Manning Girl, Browder invites readers and Northeast Community residents to the Sip & Shop on November 30 at the Kansas City Museum, where she will be signing books and answering questions from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to secure their own copies of The Manning Girl and embark on a literary journey through the narrative of Tyler Manning.

As Catherine Browder continues her literary journey through the release of The Manning Girl, the Historic Northeast eagerly anticipates the next chapter in her legacy, inviting readers to join in the celebration of a remarkable achievement.