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Yankee Stranger by Elswyth Thane

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Yankee Stranger by Elswyth Thane

Postby Michy » Sun August 8th, 2010, 4:47 am

This is the second of Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg series, and the third book of hers that I've read, and I have to say that I am now HOOKED! Thane's writing is wonderfully evocative and yet understated. She manages to convey a strong sense of time and place, and the subtleties of her many characters, but without ever going into long, descriptive passages. She says so much with just a few words or sentences.

Yankee Stranger continues the saga of the Day and Sprague families that was begun in Dawn's Early Light. Although Yankee Stranger could be considered a sequel, it quite easily stands on its own, and even someone who hasn't read Dawn's Early Light would have no problem following the narrative.

Again, Thane has created a cast of varied and engaging characters; the cast is larger in Yankee Stranger, comprised of the various members of the Day and Sprague families who have by now intermarried several times, and whose relationships are therefore a bit tangled. And at the head of it all is Tibby Day, who is 95 when the book opens, the matriarch of the Day/Sprague clan and the recipient of the unequivocal devotion of every one of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Tibby is feisty, flirtatious and as indomitable as ever. Although the Civil War rages around her she is completely unafraid of Grant, Sherman or any of the Union soldiers; she has survived the Revolutionary War, after all! It is this strength on which her entire family leans and, although she occupies a primarily background role in this book, her presence and her uncanny insight and wisdom are strongly felt.

Although Yankee Stranger, just as Dawn's Early Light, is set against the backdrop of a major war, here the war is a much larger presence; the details of the various battles occupy a more prominent place. However, even if you find such scenes uninteresting, I encourage you to persist because the last 70 pages or so of the book are incredibly good. The last several scenes of the book were riveting.

The only criticisms I have about this book are that, again, just as in Dawn's Early Light, the slavery situation is pretty much glossed over. Yes, in Yankee Stranger there technically are no slaves, as Tibby has freed all of hers and they are actually paid servants. Nevertheless, they seem just a little too contented for realism; however, I have read enough books written in this era (the 1940s) to understand that this is how slavery was pretty much treated in popular literature at that time, and to accept it as such. My only other criticism is that the very end of the book -- the last scene or two -- seemed to wrap up a little too quickly. It felt rushed, and I wish Thane would have slowed it down a bit and explored some of the characters' feelings a little more.

However, I don't feel that either of these two issues pull down the quality of this book. In fact, I like the slightly more bittersweet ending Thane gave to this second book, and for me it is a solid 5 stars. I definitely am looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sun August 8th, 2010, 12:39 pm

**drums fingers on table**

Still waiting for some idjut to return the copy to the library so I can have my turn. :mad:

Sounds good, I love Civil War stuff and it is hard to find at times (except for the old romances that is).
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Sun August 8th, 2010, 3:23 pm

As I said, I really, really liked the last 70 or so pages - when you get there let me know what you think! :)

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sat September 4th, 2010, 8:42 pm

Found some fun covers.
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At home with a good book and the cat...

...is the only place I want to be

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Loveday
Scribbler
Location: Virginia

Postby Loveday » Sun September 5th, 2010, 1:42 am

"Misfit" wrote:Found some fun covers.


That last one is the one I have, and it's my favourite. It's from a Hawthorn Books edition, printed in the 60's, but I'm not sure if they might possibly have used the original cover art from when the book was first published in the 1940's.

It's been awhile since I've posted here, but I peek in now and then to see what everyone is reading and to look for new titles to add to my ever-growing TBR pile. I was thrilled to see the new discussion about the Williamsburg novels! I first read them from the library when I was about 12 or 13 years old, and eventually collected my own set, all of which are older hardcover versions, some of which date back to the 40's though I don't think they're first editions. I must have read these books dozens of times each over the years; it's been awhile, though, so I think it might be time to read them again! :D
"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left...er... I buy more books." (Apologies to Erasmus ;) )

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LoobyG
Compulsive Reader
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Postby LoobyG » Sun September 5th, 2010, 3:09 pm

It's lovely to see those covers, mine is the second one - which is my favourite! I like how they all feature the red headed Eden. I'm 60 pages in and unable to put the book down, I'm very charmed by Tibby Day and her whole tribe. Looking forward to seeing what happens next...

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sun September 5th, 2010, 3:19 pm

"LoobyG" wrote:It's lovely to see those covers, mine is the second one - which is my favourite! I like how they all feature the red headed Eden. I'm 60 pages in and unable to put the book down, I'm very charmed by Tibby Day and her whole tribe. Looking forward to seeing what happens next...


You must go back to the first book, Dawn's Early Light and read Tibby's story. Loved loved loved it.

I really enjoy hunting down these long lost treasures, sometimes we miss out just focusing on the latest releases.
At home with a good book and the cat...

...is the only place I want to be

User avatar
LoobyG
Compulsive Reader
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Postby LoobyG » Sun September 5th, 2010, 5:15 pm

They definitely don't do covers like they used to anymore. I've got an obsession with collecting original editions of Jean Plaidy's, just for the gorgeous covers :o And I do like that women used to have heads lol. Right, I've succumbed and ordered 'Dawn's Early Light' from the US, as I'm unable to lay my hands on it any other way. Hopefully it'll be here by the time I finish 'Yankee Stranger' :)

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Sun September 5th, 2010, 8:35 pm

I finished "Ever After" a week or so ago -- didn't like it quite as well as the first two. I want to read a few other books before I order "The Light Heart"...........

traveldog
Scribbler
Location: Upstate New York

Postby traveldog » Tue September 7th, 2010, 8:26 pm

Michy -- You probably aren't going to like any of the the others as much as Dawn's Early Light and, just slightly behind that, Yankee Stranger. I did -- and continue to when I re-read -- because by the time I got to Ever After for the first time, they were **my** family and I simply loved them (and sometimes wanted to shake them) for just that reason. There are people, and scenes, and themes that I love, but - either because there are more threads or because the time gets closer to that lived in or known well to the author -- there isn't the strong story and cohesion that there is in the first two books.

Right around the time I discovered the Williamsburg novels my best friend discovered another family series (which also had a character named Eden): the Jalna novels by Mazo de la Roche, set in Canada. They were -- to our 16 year old eyes -- much more 'adult' and 'edgy,' and therefore more tittilating but not really as enjoyable. I've been wondering how they would seem now after all these many decades. --------- The most startling thing I remember about them is learning, at some point, that although the 15 or so books were published in wildly out-of-order fashion over the 30s, 40s and 50s, apparently the author "knew" the entire story - what happened when and to whom - when she sat down to write, so she could tackle them in any order she wanted. ???


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