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Mary Carol

Mary Carol Bartelt, who grew up in Napa and St. Helena, has published two books, writing as Mary Carol. 

Mary Carol Bartelt recently had her first two books, “Secrets of the Vineyard,” and “Secrets of the Vineyard Discovered,” published by Newman Springs Publishing.

Growing up in Napa Valley, the author was known as Mary Carol Klarner before she married her husband, Reverend Kenneth Bartelt, 60 years ago.

Though marriage to a minister took her out of her sheltered country life in Napa to almost every part of the United States and Australia and gave her a broader view of the different cultures of the world, as she came to know each community and its characters, she still has strong ties to Napa Valley.

“I went to school in St. Helena and Napa and still have many friends there. Our son, Paul, and his wife, Vicky Bartelt, and our grandchildren live in Napa,” said the newly published author, Mary Carol Bartelt, whose books are published under the name Mary Carol.

“Our home church is St. John’s Lutheran Church out on Linda Vista,” she added. “My husband was principal of the school when we built the school and church many years ago.”

Mary Carol will be signing copies of both of her books on Saturday, Jan. 25 form 1 to 3 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, located at the Creekside Town Center 1256, Galleria Blvd., Roseville.

The hardships of country life in all the rural communities of America and Australia where her husband’s ministry took them have given her “a bounty of experiences to spin more and more stories.” She found through these experiences that “each community has the same secrets; which people hide from each other.”

Mary Carol has received “rave reviews” for her intriguing tale of self-discovery and mystery that submerges readers into the culture and whimsy of country life, wealth and teenage progression in the 1950s.

Her central character is Mari Rogers, the daughter of a prominent contractor and architect. She lives on a large vineyard ranch on the east range of the Napa Valley during the mid- to late-1950s. Mari is a “naive yet mature high school sophomore who is spiky and fearless.”

Mari finds that even in the wealthy close-knit community of the Napa Valley, the secrets of many friends and their families come into her life. Because of her caring and sensitive personality, she has the unique ability to seek resolve for any number of these secrets. She keeps them, all the while navigating her way through life at home and school without revealing them before their time—or at all.

The first book, “Secrets of The Vineyard,” leaves the reader wondering about Mari and the tenuous relationship with her mother, along with the ever-changing times of the ‘50s. Then, there is R.G., with his secret connections in the valley, and the continued hardships of living on the ranch. Will Beth discover who she really is?

The second book, “Secrets of The Vineyard Discovered,” answers these questions, but continues to deal with ongoing issues.

Mari struggles with being the only Christian in her family and deals with the death of a classmate. Readers find themselves wishing to know more about how Mari and her friends keep their secrets and promises to each other.

The author credits her imagination and inspiration to write books to her “two genius parents who read books to her by great authors like Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, and so many more.”

Even as a child, the author said she would entertain her classmates with tall tales and make them laugh with her ability to imitate the different accents of the characters she told about.

The formal education she was given has only enhanced her desire to finally do as so many have asked of her, and that is to write, she said.

Growing up in the valley, the author enjoyed being in the Rutherford 4-H club and Worthy Advisor in the St. Helena Rainbow girls.

Her life has been enriched through many experiences including teaching, drawing, designing her clothes and sewing, gardening, raising her own children and foster kids, being the wife of a Lutheran pastor, as well as his personal administrative assistant. In addition, she was the business owner of a flower shop and she also owned a tutoring center for 18 years.

Her books can be purchased at Copperfield’s Books in Napa, Calistoga, Santa Rosa; at Book Mine in St. Helena; and at Barnes & Noble in Roseville.

The books can also be found at the Yuba City Crosspointe Christian Bookstore, the Oakville Grocery Store in Napa Valley, and online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and e-books.

In addition, “Secrets of the Vineyard” and “Secrets of the Vineyard Discovered” can be checked out at the St. Helena Library and the Yuba City library.

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