Book of the Week (1/14/19)

Lost Nation by Jeffrey Lent (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2002).

In the mood for engrossing and gritty historical fiction set in New Hampshire? Give Lost Nation by Jeffrey Lent a try!
Lost Nation delves beneath the bright, promising veneer of early-nineteenth-century New England to unveil a startling parable of individualism and nationhood. The novel opens with a man known as Blood, guiding an oxcart of rum toward the wild country of New Hampshire, an ungoverned territory called the Indian Stream—a land where the luckless or outlawed have made a fresh start. Blood is a man of contradictions, of learning and wisdom, but also a man with a secret past that has scorched his soul. He sets forth to establish himself as a trader, hauling with him Sally, a sixteen-year-old girl won from the madam of a brothel over a game of cards. Their arrival in the Indian Stream triggers an escalating series of clashes that serves to sever the master/servant bond between them, and offers both a second chance with life. But as the conflicts within the community spill over and attract the attention of outside authorities, Blood becomes a target to those seeking easy blame for their troubles. As plots unravel and violence escalates, two young men of uncertain identity appear, and Blood is forced to confront dreaded apparitions of his past, while Sally is offered a final escape.
Lost Nation is a vivid tale of unexpected strengths, terrible and sad misconceptions, and the yearning toward civil society in a landscape raw and with little pity for human strivings. In prose both lucid and seductive, it carries us deeply into human and natural conditions of extreme desolation and harrowing hardship, but also the relentless beat of hope and, finally, the redeeming capacity of love. -- Publisher's blurb


Book of the Week (1/7/2019)

Stanley Big Thumbs by Dorothy Prive (Mascot Books, 2018).

Join NH children's author Dorothy Prive at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, NH on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 at 6 pm as she shares her new heartwarming book that addresses self-esteem and confidence!
Stanley was born differently from the other cats in his family. For a long time, it made him feel like an outcast, but when disaster strikes on his farm, the very thing that made him feel different gives him an opportunity to be a hero. Will he be able to overcome his insecurities to save the day?


Book of the Week (12/31/2018)

A Noble and Independent Course: The Life of Reverend Edward Mitchell by Forrester A. Lee and James S. Pringle (UPNE, 2018).

Little was known about Edward Mitchell, the first Dartmouth College graduate of African descent, until the authors, who are Dartmouth alumni, were curious to research and learn more.
In 1828 Edward Mitchell was the first student of African descent to graduate from Dartmouth College, more than thirty-five years before any other Ivy League school admitted a black student. This book tells Mitchell’s life story with the help of a recently rediscovered trove of his college essays, notes on his religious conversion, and hand-copied versions of his sermons.
Born and raised in the French slave colony of Martinique, Mitchell immigrated to the United States and came of age in Philadelphia, where he broke bread with the city’s African American clerics and civic leaders. The Dartmouth trustees initially denied Mitchell admission but yielded to unified student protest. After his graduation, Mitchell continued his northward journey to serve as a Baptist preacher and evangelist in the pulpits of northern New England. His religious odyssey concluded in Lower Canada, where he was remembered as “the most profound theologian ever settled.” During his travels throughout the Atlantic world in an age of revolution and religious revival, Mitchell encountered the dominant social, economic, and political realities of his time.
Although long celebrated as the inspiration for Dartmouth’s legacy of educating men and women of African ancestry, Mitchell’s life story remained unknown for almost two centuries. This book, which embodies history as recovery, is a testament to the authors’ desire to know the man behind the story.


Book of the Week (12/24/2018)

Christmas at Eagle Pond by Donald Hall (Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012).

To celebrate the upcoming Christmas holiday, and to honor the recently passed Donald Hall; beloved long-time NH resident and former United States poet laureate, I chose to feature "Christmas at Eagle Pond" this week. The book is a humorous work of historical fiction that follows the author at age 12 while he spends a Christmas holiday on his grandparent's farm.
"Donald Hall, drawing on his own childhood memories to create an instant-classic Christmas story, gives himself the thing he most wanted but didn't get as a boy: a Christmas at Eagle Pond. It's the Christmas season of 1940 and twelve-year-old Donnie takes the train to visit his grandparents. Once there, he quickly settles into the farm's routines. In the barn, Gramp milks the cows and entertains his grandson by speaking rhymed pieces, while his grandson's eyes are drawn to an empty stall that houses a graceful, cobwebby sleigh. Now, Model-A's speed over the wintry roads, which must be ploughed, and the beautiful sleigh has become obsolete. When the church pageant is over, the gifts are exchanged, and the remains of the Christmas feast put away, the air becomes heavy with fine snowflakes--the kind that fall at the start of a big storm--and everyone wonders, how will Donnie get back to his parents on time? "-- Publisher's blurb

Poet Donald Hall at his home at Eagle Pond Farm in Wilmot, NH (Photo by Aram Boghosian)