Sunday, March 26, 2006

Garner by Kirstin Allio

The time is 1925 and the place is Garner, New Hampshire, a small sail-shaped community in a sail-shaped state. The local council has been struggling on how to regulate motor cars. Should they be kept out of the community? The population is dropping, farmers are leaving their fields, and people from the cities of the East Coast are looking for summer places. Willard Heald, the local postman and resident historian, is unhappy with the prospects. What will become of the young people, especially the young women with few skills or suitors?

I enjoyed the first novel Garner by Kirstin Allio. It was a bit of a puzzle to read, as the author seemed reluctant to pin down the story, but solving the mystery is half the fun. The other half was reading Allio's description of the woods, the community, and the people.

So, who knows the truth? Is it the postman, who seems to know the contents of every letter? Is it his wife who talks with all the neighbors and follows her husband on a walk in the woods on an eventful evening? Is it one of the city people staying the Giddens farm? You will not know until you read the end.

Allio, Kirstin. Garner. Minneapolis: Coffehouse Press, 2005. ISBN 1566891752

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