News & Features

Fontbonne English Instructor Publishes Debut Novel

ST. LOUIS — Fontbonne University English instructor Rebecca Rasmussen's first novel, "The Bird Sisters," will debut Tuesday, April 12, through Crown Publishers. A launch party and book signing will take place Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books, 321 N. 10th, downtown St. Louis.

Rasmussen teaches creative writing and literature. Although this is her first novel, her short stories have appeared in Triquarterly magazine and the Mid-American Review.

Inspiration for "The Bird Sisters" came to Rasmussen while reading her grandmother Kit’s journals. Kit lost both her parents at age seventeen, just after a crisis revealed the failings in their marriage. As she grew older, she grew away from her only sister, Virginia. This novel is Rasmussen’s imaginings of what could have been, had Kit and Virginia learned to cling to each other rather than turn away.

About the book:
Milly and Twiss are known to everyone in Spring Green, Wisconsin, as the Bird Sisters, for their special gift for nursing injured birds—and sometimes, the damaged owners—back to health. But it wasn’t always this way. In the summer of 1947, people called Milly “Goldilocks” because of her beautiful hair, and Twiss, the explorer, pretended she and her golf-pro father were Lewis and Clark out on the course. Milly and Twiss’s mother dreamed of drinking Chateau Margaux on the banks of the Seine, as she once did in Paris, and their father, a dreamer and charismatic philanderer, desperately hopes to recover his golf swing, which hasn’t been the same since his car accident.
Along with the immediate family, Rasmussen paints a vivid picture of the unique folks in Spring Green, whose lives intersected with Milly and Twiss’s that fateful summer. There is Mrs. Bettle and her beloved parrot, Henry; the ladies of the exclusive Sewing Society, who do more meddling than sewing; Father Rice, who announces one Sunday that God doesn’t exist and heads out of the church, bound for Mexico, with a string of small-mouth bass from the collection plate swung over his shoulder; and Asa Peterson, the boy with the shy smile who loves Milly’s owl-shaped sugar cookies. But it is Cousin Bett, who has come down for the summer from Deadwater, Minnesota, who captivates the sisters with her fearless tenacity. It is Bett who leaves the most lasting impact of all and who changes the course of their lives in ways they could never have imagined.

Learn more about "The Bird Sisters."

Learn more about studying English and communication at Fontbonne.