Some storms bring destruction. Others bring salvation.
In 1934 the tiny town of Barmy, Oklahoma, is in desperate need of a miracle. The cows are hungry, the rain won’t fall, most of Main Street is boarded up. Young aspiring trapeze artist Sugar Watson is dumped unceremoniously into this bleak setting with little money and only one thing on her mind—escape. Beulah Clinton, a Holy Ghost preacher, has dedicated herself to helping the distressed in this ragged little wasteland, and Sugar soon finds herself thrown in with Marigold Lawford, the simple-minded widow of the richest man in town, and Homer Guppy, a boy trouble follows like dust after a wind.
Despite Sugar’s immediate distaste of Barmy, Beulah’s patience, Marigold’s kindness, and Homer’s unconditional love make her reconsider the meaning of home.
On Black Sunday, the worst dust storm in history brings with it a choice: Sugar must decide whether or not to return home, leaving the hospitality—and love—of Barmy’s inhabitants. A stunning Depression-era literary novel with a touch of magical realism, Beulah's House of Prayer captivates until the very end.
"Cynthia A. Graham's novel, Beulah's House of Prayer, is chock-full of what Flannery O'Connor called 'large and startling figures.' But these are not caricatures; they are people with whom you will fall in love and think you know in real life. You will care about their travails and want to turn to that last page to see what becomes of them—but with Dust Bowl descriptions reminiscent of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, a break-neck speed conclusion, and a fascinating love story in the mix, you'll be conflicted about how fast you want to get there."
—David Armand, author, The Gorge, Harlow, and The Pugilist’s Wife
"Beulah’s House of Prayer blends the stark reality of Steinbeck and the grace and imagery of Willa Cather into a beautifully rendered story of struggle and faith in Depression– and Dust Bowl–era Oklahoma—a place where 'communion is the wheat I grow and the blood I sweat.' Cynthia Graham’s moving story coalesces around Beulah, a self-appointed savior of lost souls and downtrodden characters in her orbit, a woman who believes in snake handling and a one-dimensional interpretation of the Bible. She provides a sanctuary for them to work through their personal trials and troubles. Hope is the bright thread that runs the narrative length, heightening both anticipation and despair. Steeped in metaphor, this moving novel is at once compelling and poetic. It is the kind of story that often finds its way onto the big screen. One heck of a good read!"
—Dixon Hearne, author, From Tickfaw to Shongaloo and Delta Flats: Stories in the Key of Blues and Hope
Cynthia A. Graham is the winner of several writing awards, including a Gold IPPY for Beneath Still Waters, and her short stories have appeared in both university and national literary publications. She attained a B.A. in English from the Pierre Laclede Honors College at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Cynthia is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the St. Louis Writers' Guild, the Missouri Writers' Guild, and Sisters in Crime. She is the author of two works of historical mystery: Beneath Still Waters and Behind Every Door. Beulah's House of Prayer is her first foray in the land of magical realism.