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Author Yvette Nachmias-Baeu is pictured at her Hope Valley home on Tuesday morning.

For DNA sleuths looking to unravel secrets and hidden facts about present-day ordinary life, “Ledicia’s Key” by Yvette Nachmias-Baeu could spark a hunt outside just the realm of chromosomes and chemistry.

This book, partly autobiographical and partly fiction, can inspire those family-history hunters to find traces of their real ancestors whose lives and actions remain unknown and unexamined in the contemporary sense.

“They might like to pick it up (the book) if they have an interest in basic history. It talks about specific people who don’t get talked about or thought about very much in the present tense,” said Nachmias-Baeu, who has written three other books and is a South County Writers Group member.

“I hope that the story would intrigue people to know more about their family. If you pick up, it would intrigue you to keep reading to know more,” added the Hope Valley resident who has also published three other books.

In this story that Nachmias-Baeu unwinds, character Rebekah, known as Beka throughout the book, starts two journeys.

One is about the discovery of her family history and the other eventually becomes about a love relationship with a professor helping her pull together the disparate pieces of her family’s background over centuries and in a foreign country.

In both, there is a looking back on pasts to assess a future. There’s almost a Shakespearean shadow here. In “The Tempest,” The old bard wrote, “What’s past is prologue.”

It means, in essence, that history sets the context for the present. Her character Beka certainly undertook a learning journey to know more about herself.

In trying to understand her life today, Beka examines a genealogical puzzle that pieces together clues and follows generations of a family from the Spanish Inquisition to present-day New England.

The love interest with the helping professor starts to wane for Beka toward the end of her journey in the family history hunt. She thinks about abandoning it, yet the scrap heap never sees it.

In classic romance style, the hard-nosed researcher softens her resistance that was prodded by his dalliance with another woman while Beka was overseas for many months doing her research.

Beka wants to walk away from him and her feelings, putting them into the past. That past, though, keeps poking into her life as did her family history. The professor rescues the day by embracing his love shown in the past and a promise that love can give to their future together.

The fullness of this book is in the quest to know, the unsatiated desire to determine a sense about there being more than just what has happened after we are born.

What came before and how does that influence the present?

Both Beka and author Nachmias-Baeu — at once having lives both similar and different — reach into history to highlight descendants from generals to artists and from nobility to shopkeepers.

It has been described as a symphony of diverse humanity, of love and war — and not always harmonious — played out in the sharps and flats of personal triumphs and political tragedies.

This process of discovery, said  Nachmias-Baeu, “impacts who we are in the present time. I endorse the notion of discovery.”

And so Nachmias-Baeu also seems to channel another author, French novelist Marcel Proust. He said the only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes, in seeing the universe with the eyes of another, of hundreds of others, in seeing the hundreds of universes that each of them sees.

Her novel “Ledicia’s Key” has over 50 characters who come on to and off of Beka’s radar screen as her research uncovers these people she knew little about and their perspectives she had even less awareness about.

These building blocks in her own life were handed down to her through dominant, residual and emergent values transmitted from one generation to the next. That becomes part of her learning.

Like Nachmias-Baeu’s early life, the setting is Bulgaria. The author came to the United States in 1940 when she was about three years old and with her sister, mother and father. She never returned, although her father did,  but had a curiosity, she said, about this past of hers.

“During the pandemic, I began to do reading about the Ottoman Empire, and Inquisition, and pulled together notes from my family. I began to think more seriously, is there a story, can I write a story about this?” she said last week in an interview.

She began the research, putting together scraps of information as one does the odd pieces in a jig-saw puzzle until they fit where they belong.

“The beginning of the book was kind of an adventure. When I finished it I wasn’t sure if it was worthy of anything. There were a lot of very different impressions. Many said it intrigued them,” she said.

Cynthia F. Davidson, author of “The Importance of Paris,” said the book is “such a timely series of stories; about surviving genocide, displacement, armed conflicts, and the madmen of history as we grapple in the present with another modern-day tragedy, another wave of invasions, bombings, war crimes and millions of refugees.”

“As these tales so richly prove, ancestry is more than a DNA test. It is the preservation of wisdom and the prevention of amnesia,” she said.

Local long-time local physician Gene McKee, who for decades heard the stories, adventures and histories of patients unraveling their lives to him, found the book incisive.

“Ledicia’s Key tracks a family through centuries. Beau gives readers a view offered with breadth and depth as she treats their struggles to survive, their loves and losses, their moral ambiguities in a manner that could only come to life in the deft hands and with the intimate knowledge of an outstanding writer, “ said McKee of Narragansett and author of “DOC,” “From Bloodletting to Binary” and “The Girl from Donegal.”

Depth in writing is a quest that drives her, Nachmias-Baeu has said in previous interviews.

“I write to find out what I’m thinking about. What I’m feeling, and what I hope to uncover. It comes about when something troubles me or the reasons something makes me happy. I write to ask and try to answer essential questions,” she told South County Life earlier this year.

She explained, “I tend to borrow heavily from what I have experienced in my own life. I have an emotional stake in wanting people to hear me. It is perhaps the only time I feel I can be fiercely honest…speak the truth as I know it. I write so that I won’t be interrupted by people who mostly don’t listen.”

“Ultimately, the thing about writing I crave is the feeling when an idea comes alive and I am no longer the only one writing. There is joy in finding words in ways that attempt to make an impact,” the long-time author said.

When looking at creations with words, she said in that interview, “There is hardly anything better than being able to dig deep and put words together in a special way that makes language come to life.  When I successfully capture those words and phrases in a character and in a situation I have created.”

Nachmias-Baeu decided to self-publish “Ledicia’s Key” through eBook Bakery in Narragansett. I. Michael Grossman is the owner and guided the book through the publishing process.

“It is a fantastic book with so much detail that she had to research. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an interest in their background. We bring some of the past into the present in our families and our personalities,” said Grossman, author of “Coming to Terms with Aging,” “Poems in Disappearing Ink” and “The Realm.”

Indeed Beka basks in that unfailing interest throughout “Ledica.” It’s also an interest that propelled Nachmias-Baeu, too.

“I created Ledicia and her character just evolved, but I didn’t know how it would. They do have to come out of a place and I did have some feelings for her and her situations,” she said.

The past remains present. “I write as I feel things,” she said.

“Ledicia’s Key” is available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback for $16.95 and she plans to soon provide it to local bookstores in South County.

Write to Bill Seymour, freelance writer covering news and feature stories, at independent.southcountylife@gmail.com.

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