I’m looking for feedback on my synopsis — feedback of any kind. This is not the cover blurb, but a somewhat more detailed synopsis that would be used to interest an agent in the novel (and used by an agent to sell the novel to a publisher). Most pressing is whether it makes you want to read the book, but I’m grateful for anything else! Thank you!
THE SCHNEEBELI BROTHERS GO TO CHURCH tells about the experiences of the six Schneebeli brothers — Heinrich, Hannes, Peter, Conrad, Thomann and Andreas — from Affoltern, a village in Canton Zürich, during what we now call the Protestant Reformation. The novel is set between June 1524 and June 1532, during intense religious upheaval and political power struggles. The story revolves around the emergence of the Swiss Evangelical Church (Zwingli’s church) and the rise of Anabaptism (rebaptizers). Each brother navigates his own path through, around or directly into the dramatic changes.The story draws on historical fact, but it is fiction. It includes the historical figures of Huldrych Zwingli, Leo Jud, Felix Manz and Pilgram Marpeck.
The overall plot is driven by historical events and, as each brother has a unique relationship to those events, each brother has his own story. In this way, the plot is character driven. The individual “plots” of each life intersect the “plots” of the lives of other family members, beginning in the first chapter in which the question of infant baptism nearly starts a family fight.
The story opens with the birth and death of Rudolf. Nineteen year old Andreas is the only family member home when Rudolf is born. Andreas does not believe in infant baptism, so he does not baptize the his little brother. Rudolf’s death is followed soon after by the death of Verena, the mother of all the Schneebeli boys. Hannes, the second son (in his late twenties), a Cistercian monk, arrives in time to give Last Rites to Verena so she dies in a state of grace. Infant Rudolf’s lack of baptism brings the central question of the story to a head immediately as Rudolf cannot be buried with his mother in sanctified ground. The novel climaxes seven years later at the Second War of Kappel which took place on October 11, 1531. It was a short deadly battle between Zürich’s army of 2000 men (800 troops were lost; the rest ran away) and the forces of the Inner (Catholic) cantons aided by their Habsburg allies totaling 7000 troops. The battle is also the climax of historical events in the Zürich Reformation as the leader, Huldrych Zwingli, was killed on that day. After the war, life returns more or less to normal for the surviving brothers all of whom seem likely to live happily ever after.
Themes in the novel include family relationships, romantic love, faith and despair. Two hundred years after the events in my novel, many thousands of immigrants did come to America from Switzerland and the upper Rhine region, looking for safety and freedom they had not been able to find at home. If the novel teaches a “lesson” it would be a reminder why immigrants to America were so adamant about separating the church from the state.
The novel is 65,000 words.