The Origins of the Goddesses Anonymous:
At the end of One Mountain Away, the first book of the Goddesses Anonymous series, Charlotte Hale wills her family farm in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina to a group of friends and asks that they use the property and their many talents to help other women.
The friends decide to call themselves the Goddesses Anonymous to honor Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, a powerful figure to Buddhists and Taoists, with many different names and representations in Eastern Asia. Kuan Yin turned back on her journey to heaven when she heard the cries of the suffering on earth and asked to stay and minister to them anonymously until no more suffering remained.
The Original Goddesses:
Analiese Wagner: When the series begins the minister of the Church of the Covenant in Asheville, Analiese Wagner, is in her late thirties. As Charlotte’s own minister Analiese challenged and supported her, and she’s known for tactfully speaking her mind. With both beauty and brains Analiese was a successful broadcast journalist before she entered seminary. A surprising choice for the large, traditional Protestant church, this is her first ministry, and she is their first female minister. She was unhappily married in her twenties, but her husband died as she was gathering strength to divorce him. She remained single afterward.
Georgia Ferguson: Years before the series begins, Georgia Ferguson lost her job as headmistress of Covenant Academy, due partly to Charlotte’s interference and criticism, a mistake that Charlotte struggled to correct at the end of her life. A talented teacher and administrator, Georgia, now in her late forties, has finally come into her own as the principal of BECAUSE, a public school for students who aren’t thriving in traditional classrooms. Georgia was abandoned at birth, a story that is recounted and continued in Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, and widowed as a young woman. Georgia is the mother of Samantha Ferguson, also a Goddess, and the grandmother of the remarkable Edna. Lucas Ramsey, introduced in Somewhere, figures prominently in her life.
Samantha Ferguson: Samantha, in her late twenties, is Georgia’s daughter. Her father Samuel, was killed during service in Beirut before she was born. Samuel was an adoptee of Korean and African-American parentage, and Samantha’s appearance, and that of her pre-teen daughter Edna, reflect that heritage. Samantha had a difficult adolescence and nearly went to prison after driving under the influence. She straightened out her life and got a nursing degree. Now she is the nursing supervisor in charge of the child and maternal wellness program at a public health clinic. Samantha has never divulged who Edna’s father is, and she remains single. She is a close friend of Taylor Martin, Charlotte’s daughter, and she befriended Charlotte at the end of her life.
Taylor Martin: Taylor, also in her late twenties, is the daughter of Charlotte Hale and Ethan Martin. Taylor and Charlotte became estranged when Taylor, seventeen, announced she was pregnant and intended to keep the baby over her mother’s objections. Ethan, who divorced Charlotte, continued to provide a home for Taylor and her daughter Maddie until they could live on their own. Taylor teaches yoga and pilates to support her daughter, who has epilepsy. Taylor, who reconciled with her mother before Charlotte’s death, is a major character in No River Too Wide.
Harmony Stoddard: When Charlotte first meets Harmony in One Mountain Away, Harmony, in her early twenties, is pregnant and temporarily homeless. Charlotte befriends her, and Harmony becomes an important part of her life. Harmony escaped from her physically abusive father after high school but mourns the fact that her mother Janine hasn’t been able to get away. After Charlotte’s death Harmony takes a job as an assistant to Marilla and Brad Reynolds at their service dog kennel and farm. She names her baby daughter Charlotte Louise after her benefactor and calls the baby Lottie Lou, which was Charlotte’s name as a girl. Harmony is also a major character in No River Too Wide.
Cristy Haviland: Cristy, in her early twenties, is introduced in Somewhere Between Luck and Trust. She comes to live at the Goddess House after serving a term in prison for a crime she claims she didn’t commit. Cristy is dyslexic and unable to read, a problem Georgia helps her overcome. Cristy continues to live at the Goddess House after other problems are resolved and becomes a caretaker and host.
Marilla (Rilla) Reynolds: Rilla is the mother of two young sons and the wife of Brad, an attorney. Rilla managed their farm and kennel outside Asheville until she was injured in a car accident. At the end of One Mountain Away she and Brad invite Harmony to live in an apartment on their property and assist Rilla. Rilla knows that Harmony will need emotional support and guidance as a single mother, and despite her own slow recovery, this is something she can give her new young friend.