What NE book have you bought or are you reading now?
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I'm doing a little research so I'm reading a few New England-related books:
The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835 by Nancy F. Cott. (captures the years between the Revolutionary War and the heyday of the Industrial Revolution).
Farm to Factory: Women's Letters, 1830-1860 by Thomas Dublin.
But, browsing the bookstore yesterday, I came across They Change Their Sky: The Irish in Maine edited by Michael C. Connolly. A collection of ten essays. While most of my ancestry predates the Irish immigration of the 19th century, I am interested in the Scot-Irish immigration of the 18th century so I had to have the book, of course.
This book is an interesting collection of writings (stories, letters, essays, and poetry) by the native NE women who worked in the mills here in New England in the middle of the 19th century (just prior to the changeover to immigrant labor). The original editor/s of the literary magazine seemed to favor mostly upbeat and positive viewpoints of millwork, and avoid any sensitive issues such as hours and wages. There was some criticism around this (and accusations of being subsidized by the mill owners). Beyond this, and bearing in mind what it doesn't include, it's an enlightening window into the lives of women who left their family farms and flocked to the mills to support themselves.
Alcotts: A Biography of a Family by Madelon Bedell
Louisa May Alcott: A Modern Biography by Martha Saxton.
Both are family biographies and the story of this odd, dysfunctional family is every bit as interesting as Little Women might have been when one was young.
Dennis Lehane's new novel is a brawny historical fiction that recreates 1918/19 Boston in rich, vivid detail. He lured me into this 700 page novel slowly --- at a 100 pages I was hooked; at 300 pages it was evident I had sold my soul to it. Tightly plotted, his story includes plenty of action, suspense and blood-letting. His characters are wonderfully rendered, real people, some likable, some not so much. His heroes, Danny Coughlin and Luther Lawrence, both young men coming into their own during turbulent times, and stumbling along the way. Ultimately the book dramatizes the Boston Policemen's Strike, but beyond that it is a story of family, love, corruption, unrest, terror, fear, race, class, and power, power, power. I never realized how much was going on the United States during those two years and how much of today can be seen in it --and it's all in there, and then some! Fans of Lehane will find everything they have come to expect from him and more---this isn't a departure for him, it's an evolution.
Now, don't laugh, but as I finished the novel, it began to rain outside and somehow I found it a most fitting afterward to this exceptional tale.
re: further on the Lehane novel. I keep thinking that the book is some cross between a war novel and some of the sagas I read decades ago (Winds of War, East of Eden...etc). I can't quite put my finger on it. . .
eta, it's set in a somewhat fictitious 'mid-coast' Maine. She does use some real places names but uses them rather randomly.
BTW, it's a very readable story about everyday life in 17th century America, both in New England and Maryland/Virginia and parts between:-) I've enjoyed it.
Also recently finished was The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell which is a non-fiction book that discusses the puritans in Massachussets from around 1630 to 1692. It was a humorous writing with lots of info about the early days of MA that I wasn't aware of before now.
Now I am reading The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen. This is a continuation of her Maura Isles/Jane Rizzolo mystery series. Book/series predominately takes place in Boston, MA. But the characters have been known to go into the 'burbs and other parts of New England.
>I thought about reading The Lace Reader as I heard it's historical setting was credible, but couldn't get past the totally made-up 'lace reading' thing. Besides, historical fiction, at this point, would mess with my nonfiction research (which was my answer to The Heretic's Daughter also).
As for the lace reading. That comes more into play with little epigraphs before the start of each chapter. No one in the book actively sits down and reads lace. The lace reader of the title was Towners aunt, who dies and that is why she returns to Salem at the start of the novel. It was a really good story.
Now, I'm reading Rum, Slaves and Molasses; the Story of New England's Triangular Trade by Clifford Lindsey Alderman.
Not many people outside of Vermont know about the Confederate raid on St. Albans Vermont in October 1864
Check your public library!!!
I did buy a new volume of poetry by Betsy Sholl, one of the founders of Alice James books in Farmington, Maine.
I'm M.D. Birmingham and to be honest I haven't been able to do much leisure reading since Feb 11th, 2007. The year of 2007 after awakening (emerging & merging) from my 63 day non-responsive coma reading wasn't an ability that I was easily capable to do. It's not because I couldn't read and comprehend (as with illiteracy), or my earlier stages of hand dexterity deficits (no gross motor skills). It wasn't because of shortened attention span due to stimuli overload; it was my double vision (best generally explained as a side effect from my coma and injury nature of DAI). Whether it was a large magazine page or typically sized book, whenever I looked at the words on the page it was like staring at a “wordsearch.” All the letters were jumbled on the page and it took much consistent effort to retrain my vision to follow the page line by line; along with my mind. Aside from books and pages with writing, typical exit signs and labels with writing (on doors, etc) that I encountered in my "world" (inpatient hospitalized stay) were seen either as a “wordsearch” or double. The double vision caused the same object to appear as you would see if you were to cross your eyes while reading this. One set of the writing is slightly off to the other side (left or right) and a bit lower than its "twin." I did overcome this challenge through the help of time and creating my own strategies to no longer see double but only one object (like 1year olds or younger, vision tests were obviously not possible). Needless to say, that was only one challenge I overcame to write my own autobiography titled Getting There... and yes I did type it entirely prior to submitting as a galley; along with this whole message. For other groups that I belong to I will cut and paste this information regarding the topic question of introducing myself as it is truth to who I am. During the final days to my book’s “being” before becoming "live" to the public I made the website www.getting-therebook.com which contains links to the web address (photos, etc) mentioned in the book. You are welcome to follow my trail of "crumbs" that will lead you to both desire more and satiation.
I look forward to gaining more info from and within this group.
With utmost gratitude,
He used to ride the trolleys into Portland as a young man, so it was a sentimental thing for him.
I've read several Vermont or VT-related books this summer -- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (in Bennington many years) and a bio about her Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson and also have just finished Dorothy Canfield Fisher's supremely delightful book Vermont Tradition. If anyone is interested I reviewed it and you can find it here .
Oh oh -- I have just started reading the Handmaid's Tale and was wondering where it was set -- so thankyou wayyyyy up there near the beginning of this thread (avaland).
The open air trolley with tiered seating is from Montreal. The doulbe-decker may have been from England, where they were quite common. Only a few cities in the U.S. or Canada ever used them.
I remember reading about an articulated trolley that ran in the Boston area in the WWI era. It was dubbed "two rooms and a bath". It was two trolleys permanently joined together with a small section in the middle linking them. I think this middles section had no wheels supporting it, so it must have had a rough floating sensation when someone rode it.
I also attempted to read Esther Forbes's O Genteel Lady! (1926) set in Boston in the mid 19th century. I made it to about page 100. Forbes is the author of Johnny Tremain which many of us had to read in junior high or middle school; and she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1942 for her biography of Paul Revere. I found the young woman in O Genteel Lady! to be a bit boring, although the domestic detail and that of historic Boston was well done.
Now I've moved over one state to New Hampshire and am reading Donald Hall's Life Work which promises to be wonderful.
What an off-putting title! (The Forbes!) I'm sure it has merit but really!
Oldtown is modeled on Natick, apparently and Cloudland, the town where they are sent to Academy 'in the mountains' is Franklin.
I started an interesting novel set in early NE Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Gaskell. It got off to a good start but I'm still reading Middlemarch and I'm not able to read more than one serious book at a time. However, as soon as I'm done with Middlemarch and had a good cry at saying goodbye to the characters, I am starting Lois the Witch again. I think it might be a little bit like Tess of the D'urbervilles meets the Puritans.
And oh yes, it is hard to say goodbye to Middlemarch. My sympathies.
I came here to report that sometime next week I'll be started the Carlos Baker Emerson Among the Eccentrics.