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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Is It Compelling?

alt text Lydia of the Pines

Last night I stumbled across a book written exactly 100 years ago. I was curious because I have appreciated several other works by the author, Honore Willsie Morrow. This was written before she was married. The book is Lydia of the Pines.

There were a number of books of that era with similar titles, Anne of Green Gables leaps to mind. I had to buy the one called Joan of ______ (don't even remember the rest of the title, it was so bad), Donna of ______ (also not memorable), Charley, Lorna Doone, etc.

I found the full text of Lydia of the Pines on line as part of one of those efforts to make old books available. Thought I'd at least give it a chance. By page 3 I was completely hooked and read until I couldn't keep my eyes open last night. I finished it this morning.

To be fair, this is not a typical squishy love story. It's more a coming-of-age tale for girls. I had no clue as to where the story was going, and I hesitate to share much because the mystery of where it would end up was part of the intrigue. I will say that at the beginning Lydia is twelve and has almost full care of her toddler sister, as their mother has recently died. They are dirt-poor, but Lydia is proud, strong, smart and resourceful. My kind of girl.

alt text Lydia of the Pines

As the story progressed and Lydia grew up, the politics of the local city became the central theme. The plot was complex and filled with all the confusing factors that become part of how we make the decisions that affect the remainder of our lives. We are brought face-to-face with the reality of the fact that sometimes people we love, who have always been good to us, may not be such good people in different settings.

The particular political situation in the story was the treatment of Native Americans- talk about a timely subject for 2017. That, coupled with the girl who refuses to become a silly little fluff-ball, makes the book appealing a century later.

The author does not feel the need to drag the reader through every nuance of emotion and thought of every character. Rather, we are shown how they feel and what they believe by what they do. The language may be a bit antiquated, but the writing technique is very modern.

So... highly compelling. I simply could not stop reading.

I wish I could say the same for several highly rated books I'm forcing myself to finish reading this month. A spy novel that is beyond boring that has won awards and may be made into a movie. Several cozy mysteries. One historical fiction I simply gave up on because in the first four chapters we had masturbation, sodomy, incest and rape. Sorry... I know those things occur, but I just don't see the need for all that in detail as part of the plot.

Here's where I'm going with this. Above all, I want to write compelling stories. I love it when people tell me they can't put my books down. Hopefully, I'll get even better at this.

You can read the book, if you wish, at archive.org Lydia of the Pines.



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