Welcome to June and the transition from spring to the hot days of summer. This means plenty of cold iced tea, a hammock under a shady tree, and of course good books to read become a necessity. I hope you enjoy the selections of new authors to me; I highly recommend them.
BY FRANCIS SPUFFORD
On November 1, 1746, the ship Henrietta docks in a small town known as New York. A mysterious man calling himself “Mr. Smith” disembarks and makes his way to the Golden Hill, counting houses and offices of Lovell and Company. He presents a money order for 1,000 pounds. Officers of the counting-house shiver at the request for such a vast sum of money and stall Mr. Smith, with the understanding it will take 60 days to complete the transaction. It will be an incredible period.
Mr. Lovell introduces Mr. Smith to his maid and daughters, Flora and Tabitha, and at a later date, they enjoy an evening of dining at the Lovell home. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith finds himself the victim of a robbery, as he attempts to discover a newly established and growing city. However, under control by the British, the populous elitist display allegiance to their crown, but they are an unruly lot, and the noncivilized America is a shock to Mr. Smith. He misses London but also enjoys the anonymity of his newfound home.
Halfway through this book, I still was gripped in suspense as the adventure unfolded. Wall Street Journal named the novel one of its top ten fiction books of 2017—and the writing, though a tad bit long-winded at times, is fantastic. The story’s protagonist continually controls his emotions, which create an air of mystery, and has the town’s people conflicted with whether to trust him or murder him.
Just who is Mr. Smith?
THE YEAR OF THE GOAT
BY MARGARET HATHAWAY
My daughter wants me to buy and maintain for her a pygmy goat. I do not plan to do so, but I am considering adopting an animal at the zoo and putting it in her name. Secretly, I think some of us have a calling to live on the land, just as many do for the sea.
I recently read an article about a farmer who advertised for a young couple to assist him on his farm. His own family was not interested in farm life, but there is a growing population of non-farm explorers leaving the high-pressure life of big cities and turning to a less stressful rural existence. In this article, a young couple worked with the farmer, and learned the daily routines of farm animals, as well as how to sow crops in exchange for room and board, all the meat and vegetables they could eat, and at the end of a contracted time, land for their own farm.
Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz present the same calling to farm land. Like so many, they had enough of city life and dreamed of raising goats. They wanted to know how the lives of those who provide meat, dairy and produce differed from their own busy existence. Margaret was a cookbook editor and preferred to be at the stove. Karl was a lover of the animal kingdom. They began their journey by experimenting with goat cheese and milk, and exploring their options for goat farming. In 2003—the Chinese Year of the Goat. They gave up city life and began an adventure.
Margaret and Karl studied the art of making goat cheese the American way. They really did their homework, and visited multiple farms, goat-cheese makers, the International Goat Days Family Festival, the American Dairy Goat Association convention, and the Mountain Goat Ranch. Their adventures took them all over the United States where they discovered just how much their decision to leave city life had led them to see America. After a full year for Goat 101, what did the authors do with all their knowledge? Well, read the book—preferably with good wine and goat cheese and crackers—to find out.
THE WEDDING DRESS
BY RACHEL HAUCK
If you missed “The Wedding Dress” a couple years ago, and need a spiritual uplift, I highly recommend it—a winner!
Charlotte owns a bridal shop in Birmingham, Alabama, and has a gift for choosing the perfect dress for her customers. However, she seems to have doubts about marriage. When Charlotte seeks quiet time and ventures to the Ludlow Estate for solitude, she becomes caught up in an auction where she bids $1,000 on a chest—which will change her life as she discovers inside is a wedding dress with a past.
Through prayer and research, Charlotte uncovers the mystery of the dress and stories of three women who wore it. The gown is gorgeous and fits Charlotte perfectly. Nevertheless, are she and Tim ready to take their vows? What about the father Charlotte never knew? What does she discover about him and her deceased mother? So many unanswered questions don’t deter Charlotte’s faith, which leads her to the right decisions. The Christy Award winning author Rachel Hauck writes beautifully. LOL
Janet Oliver is a retired librarian for NHC Public Library. Follow her on Twitter: @LovelyThingsNC