Australian author Lucy Treloar’s Wolfe Island, a dystopian novel set in Chesapeake Bay, is this month’s starting point for Six Degrees of Separation, which is organized by Kate. It sounds interesting but due to a busy semester, I was not able to add it to this month’s reading. It does seem unusual that an Australian author would set a book in Virginia (or Maryland!) and name her narrator Kitty Hawke, which is a play on a famous North Carolina coastal town. Maybe I will understand her reasoning when I read the book! I notice all my books this month are by women - unintentional but interesting.
My first book is Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry (1947). Set on the Virginia coast like Wolfe Island, this is a famous children’s book, a runner-up for the Newbery Award, about the wild ponies on the island town of Chincoteague, Virginia. I was not a big "horse book" reader but all of Henry's books were in my school and city libraries.
My second book is also set in Virginia, Dawn’s Early Light by Elswyth Thane (1943), book 1 in her beloved Williamsburg series. Thane is one of my all-time favorite authors and I love this series. In the first book, quiet Julian Day arrives in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia from England and begins a new life in America, just as independence starts brewing.
Another favorite Revolutionary War story is my third book, Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow (1959), set Charleston, South Carolina, about a beautiful dressmaker who becomes a spy for Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. I was so delighted to find my own copy several years ago.
Celia is bored by sewing but an orphan has to earn a living! However, in my fourth book is Frederica by Georgette Heyer, younger sister Charis delights in designing and sewing gowns for her and Frederica, to the surprise of those who do not think she is nimble-witted enough to be so useful.
My fifth book is another orphan story (you know how much I love orphans!), When Marnie Was There by Joan Robinson (1967). Anna is a lonely and difficult child who goes to stay with strangers in Norfolk and is befriended by Marnie, an outgoing girl her age. There was also a 2014 movie from Studio Ghibli, which I made my mother, niece and nephews watch not long ago (it was very dreamlike and not nearly as good as the book).
My sixth book is classic The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston (1954) in which Tolly, just 7 years old, travels from Burma to live with his grandmother at Green Knowe in England. His mysterious friends are the children who once lived in this historic house. Are they real? Are they ghosts? Green Knowe is based on the author’s home, the Manor at Hemingford Grey, built in the 1130s, and I have always wanted to go there. I haven’t reread this book for a while but I am confident it has retained its charm.
Next month’s book is Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder.