LILI'S STORY is a tale of love and betrayal, struggle and reward, greed and generosity. It opens in 1886, in a South still recovering from the Civil War. Among struggling neighbors, Frank Wallace has built a highly successful farm while failing in relations with his family. His only child, Hank, is a misfit whose need for affection and acceptance is exploited by a fast-talking townie, Deuce Shiflet. Deuce discovers Frank Wallace's secret shame and sets in motion a succession struggle as he seeks to embezzle the wealth of the Wallace Farm The story then moves to town, where Seth Cormier, eight years younger than Hank, idolizes Athena, his beautiful and intelligent cousin. He disgraces himself in college and, to regain his self-respect, leaves home to work as a farm laborer at the McLane Farm, where his uncle is Steward. As he climbs the ladder from laborer to foreman to his uncle's apprentice, he develops affection for Katy, whose love helps him forget Athena -- so he thinks. In 1920, the story returns to the Wallace Farm when Seth is hired as its Steward by Lili's dying mother. In accepting guardianship of 13- year-old Lili and her farm, he earns the hatred of her father Hank. Re-entering as Lili's teacher and mentor, Athena brings conflict to Seth as he struggles to hor his commitment to Katy, even as his love for Athena rekindles. Lili's love for neighbor Luke McClaren incites Hank's rage and reignites Deuce Shiflet's scheming. In the exciting conclusion, Lili, the youngest and most improbable of them all, cures Hank's waywardness and resolves the love triangle that ensnarls Seth and Athena.
Michael Crawford grew up in Houston when barefoot kids played outside all day and rode their bikes to the local swimming pool to cool off. After graduating in Finance from the University of Houston, Mike joined the Navy and saw the world. He soaked up the history and art of Florence and Constantinople; sailed through the Straights of Messina, dreaming in the moonlight; marveled at the glow of crimson lava oozing from the maw of Mount Etna. His stint in the Navy over, Mike married and followed a commercial career -- from banking in Boston to educational publishing in Palo Alto and Chicago. His three children have gifted him with four wonderful grandsons. Mike now lives in Denton, Texas, where he writes, reads and enjoys Scottish Country Dancing. His favorite novel is George Eliot's classic, Middlemarch, and his favorite contemporary fiction is Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.