Book Talk: Hilltop Lodge Christmas: Second Book by D. Kay Taylor
Following the first book of this series, Hilltop Lodge: Frances' Birthday, Kay Taylor releases Hilltop Lodge Christmas: Second Book, a story highlighting the life and experiences of a young woman named Frances Dodge.
Frances Dodge, however, is no ordinary girl. She is the eldest daughter of auto baron John Dodge of Dodge Motor Company. In this book, Taylor explores Frances' experiences surrounding the deaths in her family, her mother's remarriage, her move to Meadow Brook Farm, and her discovery of a lifelong passion that will allow her to carve her own name.
After the untimely death of her father, uncle, and her sister, Frances' mother and aunt became the heirs to what is historically considered as one of America's largest fortunes. Her mother remarried Alfred G. Wilson, a lumber baron, which made way for their move to Meadow Brook Farm. Here, her mother devoted her time to designing and building the elaborate and grand Meadow Brook Hall. Meanwhile, the then twelve-year-old Frances discovers her love and talent for riding horses.
From her early love for horses, Frances went on to become a world-renowned horsewoman. She set a fifty-four-year record for time in the saddle at the Red Mile in Kentucky.
Meadow Brook Farm becomes the background to this story as Taylor tells the story of many magical and important events that happen to Frances and her family in their grand estate.
Hilltop Lodge Christmas is the second of a six-part series covering Frances Dodge and her family. It provides a rare and intimate glimpse into the personal lives and history of one of America's oldest families.
“We are fortunate to have many strong women in business and politics as role models. While coming of age can be challenging, growing up 100 years ago presented many more obstacles for young girls.
I first learned the fascinating story of Francis Dodge through my daughter Tara, who was serving as a docent at Knole Cottage, originally named Hilltop Lodge. This fully-furnished “playhouse”, complete with running water, a refrigerator and electricity, was built in 1926 --- for Francis’ 12th birthday. I couldn’t imagine someone spending the equivalent of $300,000 in today’s money to build a child’s playhouse.
Hilltop Lodge Christmas is the second in a series about Francis becoming a young woman with a mind of her own. This story takes us back to her first Christmas during construction of her family’s 110-room Meadow Brook Hall mansion. Massive automobile wealth allowed the Dodge family to happily join upper society in Detroit. Unfortunately, construction on Meadow Brook Hall finished in 1929 --- the dawn of the Great Depression in America.
While Francis Dodge would later break all the rules and become an internationally-recognized horse trainer, breeder and racing enthusiast, her early years provide an incredible story of independence and self-exploration. “ — D. Kay Taylor, Author of Hilltop Lodge Christmas, Book Two
Reviews and What Readers Say
" Kay’s firm grasp of the material and her ability to give a detailed look and unique treatment makes this a memorable read."
— Carla Palmer, R&D The BookWalker
Review by Carla Palmer
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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In 1991, Kay Taylor earned her doctoral degree from Michigan State University with a dual major in Community Psychology and Developmental Psychology and a minor in Community Health Science.
She began her professional career at Hurley Medical Center, a teaching hospital in Flint, Michigan affiliated with Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, as Director of Research.
During nearly 30 years at Hurley, a significant aspect of her work was assisting the medical faculty and resident physicians with their scholarly endeavors, including work on the Flint Water Crisis. Her own research has been published in various prominent medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). She has taught undergraduate and Masters level courses in epidemiology and psychology at three Michigan colleges.
On a personal level, Dr. Taylor is interested in writing historical fiction.
Adept at research, she performs extensive deep dives into the archives to develop her true-to-period writing. The name "Hilltop Lodge," is used in her current series of novels, comes from the original name given to an incredible 1/3 scale brick playhouse built in the 1920s by John and Matilda Dodge of the Dodge Motorcar Company for their 12-year old daughter Francis. Thus far, Dr. Taylor has published two of the planned series of six novels.