This week's topic: Books set in my city or state
I live in what is considered northeastern Pennsylvania. The home of Yuengling beer, Anthracite coal and Pottsville conglomerate. This is the birthplace of the infamous Molly Maguires, Jack Palance and The Dorsey Brothers. Muhammad Ali's training camp was just down the road from where I live as well as the site of numerous Indian massacres and historic battles. Philadelphia is only a 2 hour drive away, Hershey Park is practically in my backyard, and the Poconos are nice place for a day trip.
There is a lot of history in this area of Pennsylvania and as such, there are plenty of books set here, too.
Probably one of the most famous books (at least in this area) is Gibbsville, Pa by John O'Hara. The author of Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8 was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1905. I learned during my days of working at Waldenbooks (also in Pottsville) that John O'Hara's fictional town Gibbsville in his books was based off of the real-life Pottsville where he grew up. He included many of Pottsville's residents as fictional characters in his books. In fact, I was told about his stories by customers coming in to purchase his books. Apparently, many of our local residents would buy and read his books, just to see if they could identify the real-life inspirations for his characters!
One of the great novels of small-town American life, Appointment in Samarra is John O'Hara's crowning achievement. In December 1930, just before Christmas, the Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, social circuit is electrified with parties and dances. At the center of the social elite stand Julian and Caroline English. But in one rash moment born inside a highball glass, Julian breaks with polite society and begins a rapid descent toward self-destruction.
Brimming with wealth and privilege, jealousy and infidelity, O'Hara's iconic first novel is an unflinching look at the dark side of the American dream - and a lasting testament to the keen social intelligence if a major American writer.
Another famous author born only fifteen minutes from my house was Conrad Richter. He grew up in the mining towns of this area listening to his family and neighbors relate tales of life and family history. These inspired him to write stories about the early American frontiers such as The Light in the Forest.
When John Cameron Butler was a child, he was captured in a raid on the Pennyslvania frontier and adopted by the great warrior Cuyloga. Renamed True Son, he came to think of himself as fully Indian. But eleven years later his tribe, the Lenni Lenape, has signed a treaty with the white men and agreed to return their captives, including fifteen-year-old True Son. Now he must go back to the family he has forgotten, whose language is no longer his, and whose ways of dress and behavior are as strange to him as the ways of the forest are to them. A beautifully written, sensitively told story of a white boy brought up by Indians, The Light in the Forest is a beloved American classic.
There is a local legend about Regina Hartman, a young girl taken captive by Indians. While her mother and brother were away at a grist mill one day, the Indians attacked their home, killing her father and brother, and kidnapping Regina and her sister, Barbara. Barbara escaped three and a half years later, but Regina spent several years longer living as an Indian, eventually forgetting her native German language. Years later, when the Indians were forced to return their white captives, Regina's mother went to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, hoping to identify her daughter. But after so many years apart, she couldn't recognize any of the captives as her child. After a suggestion, Regina's mother began to sing a song she often sang to her children when they were small. After a moment, a young woman in the crowd gave a cry of recognition. She stepped out of the crowd of captives, shouting, "Mutter! Mutter!" and ran into her mother's open arms. Mother and daughter were finally reunited.
This story always brought tears to my eyes. It's been written about in several books, but I read I am Regina when I was a teenager. Regina Leininger, who is believed to be the real-life Regina Hartman of legend, is buried in Berks County, not far from where I live.
The cabin door crashes open and in a few minutes Regina's life changes forever. Allegheny Indians murder her father and brother, burn their Pennsylvania home to the ground and take Regina captive. Only her mother, who is away from home, is safe. Torn from her family, Regina longs for the pasat, but she must begin a new life. She becomes Tskinnak, who learns to catch fish, dance the Indian dance, and speak the Indian tongue. As the years go by, her new people become her family... but she never stops wondering about her mother. Will they ever meet again?
Here are some other Indian captive books set in Pennsylvania...
I would be a very bad friend if I did not include author Ash Krafton's books in this list. I worked in the same mall as Ms. Krafton back in our days of retail in Pottsville. Her urban fantasy series is set in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sophie Galen is an advice columnist whose work leaves her neck-deep in other people's problems. Thanks to her compassion, her gut instinct, and her magnetic charm, Sophie really knows how to attract little black clouds.
Marek Thurzo is no little black cloud; he's a maelstrom. Marek is Demivampire, a race with the potential to evolve into vampire. A warrior who's taken his share of spiritual damage, he hovers dangerously close to destruction.
He seeks salvation. She's driven to save him. But what if he can't be saved?
And because this is my blog, I might as well throw in my book, Loving Boone, to this list, too. Boone and Beth-Ann's story begins in Tennessee, but their journey takes them to Pennsylvania.
Beth-Ann Miller returns to her Tennessee mountain home to find chaos erupting between her survivalist family and their shape-shifting neighbors. Her father is convinced the were-cougar clan is responsible for the murders occurring in their area. He interrogates one of the shifters, Boone Evans, Beth-Ann's childhood sweetheart. When Boone declares several members of his shifter family have gone missing including his little brother, Beth-Ann suspects someone else is behind both the murders and abductions.
Boone never expected to see Beth-Ann again. When she frees him from her father's cabin and promises to help find his brother, Boone doesn't plan on rekindling their passionate love affair or facing the pain of past mistakes. Nor does he plan on coming face to face with the man responsible for altering his family's life forever.
With men hunting the were-cougars, can Beth-Ann and Boone risk all to have a future together? Or is loving Boone too high a price to pay?
That's a long list this week, but I hope you find something that entertains you!
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