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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 31.
- Review Date: 2007-05-14
- Reviewer: Staff
Mosher's 11th book is the first-rate, offbeat chronicle of Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson's eventful 50th year in 1930. Ex-teacher, woodcarver, librarian, basketball coach and current self-appointed steward of the wild and pristine town of Kingdom Mountain, Vt., Miss Jane (“The Duchess”) is entrenched in a battle against her cousin Eben and the town elders who want to build a highway and ski resort on her beloved mountain. Jane, as endearing as she is odd and independent-minded, looks to be in over her head until stunt pilot Henry Satterfield crashes his biplane near her home. Theatrical, dashing Henry recovers at Jane's place, and a romance blossoms. Henry also brings with him an old family riddle from Texas that he believes, if solved, will lead him and Jane to a lost Confederate treasure rumored to be hidden on the mountain. But all manner of heartbreak looms. Mosher (Waiting for Teddy Williams; The True Account; etc.) weaves homespun humor, a provincial New England setting and eccentric characters to create a satisfying, unique novel. (July)
Go tell it on the mountain
Eccentric old maid, one-of-a-kind, "an original"none of these clichés do justice to 50-year-old Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson, who has second sight, carves life-sized wooden figures for company and sits astride the U.S.-Canadian border when she eats breakfast. A Jane-of-all-trades, she also teaches, farms, fishes, runs a library and bookstore, and finds herself duty-bound to expose Shakespeare, Pretender of Avon; to revise Henry Thoreau, the Proclaimer of Concord; and to set King James straight about his Bible. ("Horsefeathers" appears in the margin of her Old Testament at the stories of Lot's wife and the flood.)
But Miss Jane is no fool. In 1930, she takes on the Vermont Department of Highways over the fate of the "Connector," a highway project that would link Vermont and Canada but would destroy the natural beauty of Kingdom Mountain, her beloved family inheritance. Acting as her own lawyer, she shows herself as competent as any of the stodgy old men of the bar before her.
And that's not all. Early on, she rescues Henry Satterfield, "an itinerant bank teller" dressed nattily in white with a crimson vest, from an icy death in his yellow biplane. Although his past is cloudy, his future will be bright if he finds the treasure of gold that was stolen from the local bank during the Civil War and hidden somewhere on the mountain. Improbable events ensue.
Howard Frank Mosher is one of those authors who proves that life is far more amusing than one ever expected. Embedded here like cinnamon in sugar toast is a nippy humor that brings a chuckle a page to this account of quests and riddles, insights and discoveries.
The author has written nine other books, one of which, Disappearance, was co-recipient of the New England Book Award for Fiction. Excuse meI'm off to the library to find it.
One-of-a-kind reviewer Maude McDaniel eats her breakfast in Maryland.