All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

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Happy reading!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, by John Fox, Jr.

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is another book in my "Grandma's bookcase" series. My grandmother grew up "in the country" in southwestern Virginia. She loved to read, and had a bookcase that fascinated me with its contents, including books like The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was written by John Fox, Jr. and published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1906. Although it is love story, the underlying theme of progress, greed, and its resultant blight, as well as the attempts to recover from these transgressions against nature, pervade the novel.

John Hale is an engineer and speculator (a "furriner" to the mountain folks) who comes to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, just over the state line with Virginia. He meets two feuding mountain families, the Tollivers and the Falins, and finds himself enmeshed in their decades old battle. Hale becomes enamored of June Tolliver, a girl on the verge of womanhood, and offers her formal schooling in Virginia. In the meantime, Hale and others exploit the coal resources of the mountain area, bringing civilization and "law and order" to the small outpost. While Hale builds his fortune, the area becomes home to transient coal workers, the creek runs black, and coal-mining equipment belches smoke into the sky. June becomes a young lady who doesn't quite belong in "society" or her mountain home, and the mountaineers' feud erupts into violence.

Modern readers may find the relationships between Hale and June Tolliver odd; however, mountain girls married at a young age at the time this book is set. Language includes stereotypes and terms that are dated and may be offensive to some readers. However, the story of the environment is not unlike our modern concerns about climate change and the ability to reverse the effect, and June's transformation is a classic and entertaining Pygmalion story.

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