Charles Clark Munn, Uncle Terry: A Story of the Maine Coast (Lee and Shepard, 1900)
[note: this book can be read and/or downloaded FREE! online from Project Gutenberg.]
My entire family seems to suffer from the same malady; we are genetically unable to resist anything having to do with Maine. (In fact, I am the only member of my immediate family who does not, as of June of this year, live within twenty miles of Portland.) I stumbled upon a copy of this book some years ago at a used bookstore and, given the subtitle, I couldn’t resist picking it up—but the edition I own in hardback is far too fragile for me to ever be able to consider reading it. Thus, when I discovered that a digital copy was living free of charge at Project Gutenberg, I was overjoyed, and I downloaded and dug in immediately.
If you’re not used to books written before World War II, Uncle Terry has a number of the hallmarks of same. Most notable to the modern reader is there there is a much heavier focus on narration and description than there is in image and plot, which leads to a more leisurely reading experience. Don’t get me wrong, there is a plot—though it might be more accurate to say that, in the way some novels focus less on a single protagonist than an ensemble cast, Uncle Terry has an ensemble plot, a weave of threads that has as its focus Albert and Alice Page, a struggling lawyer and his schoolmarm sister. Of course, Uncle Terry and his adopted daughter Telly feature in one, as does Albert’s law partner, one of Alice’s students, etc.
It’s a nice enough stew, though pretty predictable given the average character complexity in a nineteenth-century novel (all the good guys are pure as pure can be, while all the bad guys have hearts of bleakest black, etc. etc.); certainly worth a look if you appreciate an author who can spin a good yarn and you don’t mind lingering over the prose. ***