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Northern Borders is Mosher’s nostalgic novel of life in northern Vermont’s Kingdom County, as told by a man remembering his boyhood. In 1948 six-year-old Austen Kittredge III leaves his widowed father to live with his paternal grandparents on their farm in the township of Lost Nation. Escapades at the county fair, doings at the annual family reunion and Shakespeare perform Northern Borders is Mosher’s nostalgic novel of life in northern Vermont’s Kingdom County, as told by a man remembering his boyhood. In 1948 six-year-old Austen Kittredge III leaves his widowed father to live with his paternal grandparents on their farm in the township of Lost Nation. Escapades at the county fair, doings at the annual family reunion and Shakespeare performance, and conflicts at the one-room schoolhouse are all recounted lovingly in this enchanting coming-of-age story filled with luminous memories and the deepest of childhood secrets, as a boy is molded into a man.


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Northern Borders is Mosher’s nostalgic novel of life in northern Vermont’s Kingdom County, as told by a man remembering his boyhood. In 1948 six-year-old Austen Kittredge III leaves his widowed father to live with his paternal grandparents on their farm in the township of Lost Nation. Escapades at the county fair, doings at the annual family reunion and Shakespeare perform Northern Borders is Mosher’s nostalgic novel of life in northern Vermont’s Kingdom County, as told by a man remembering his boyhood. In 1948 six-year-old Austen Kittredge III leaves his widowed father to live with his paternal grandparents on their farm in the township of Lost Nation. Escapades at the county fair, doings at the annual family reunion and Shakespeare performance, and conflicts at the one-room schoolhouse are all recounted lovingly in this enchanting coming-of-age story filled with luminous memories and the deepest of childhood secrets, as a boy is molded into a man.

30 review for Northern Borders

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis

    This is my first book by Howard Frank Mosher and I loved it. It's about six year old Austen who goes to live with his grandparents in Northern Vermont not far from the Canadian border. Everything about this book, the 1950's, the farm, the remote area, the school, all the different characters and his extended family, come together to make this a great read. This is my first book by Howard Frank Mosher and I loved it. It's about six year old Austen who goes to live with his grandparents in Northern Vermont not far from the Canadian border. Everything about this book, the 1950's, the farm, the remote area, the school, all the different characters and his extended family, come together to make this a great read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is one of my favorite books. If you start this book and think that it's just a collection of short stories woven together, well, it is, but keep reading. It's more. The writing is beautiful without falling into the sometime tediousness of constant poetry, which lets the tales that make up the book shine. It doesn't tell me things I already know and lets me figure out how I feel about the people for myself. I love the way that things get brought to completion and I don't feel hung out to dry This is one of my favorite books. If you start this book and think that it's just a collection of short stories woven together, well, it is, but keep reading. It's more. The writing is beautiful without falling into the sometime tediousness of constant poetry, which lets the tales that make up the book shine. It doesn't tell me things I already know and lets me figure out how I feel about the people for myself. I love the way that things get brought to completion and I don't feel hung out to dry by the ending -- not everything is sweetness and light, but it is warm and good. Having experienced Vermont in a very rustic way, having experience with a one-room school, living next door to characters not too unlike those described, this book really resonates with a truth that perhaps those who don't have a similar background can appreciate. Sure, things are made up and stretched, but there is more reality here than perhaps some realize. This book makes me want do more with my life and less at the same time. It makes me want to appreciate the good in all people. It makes me want to get back to the past, but only to live for the future. It made me cry.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    The story begins in the summer of 1948 with six-year old Austin Kittredge sent by his widowed father to live with his grandparents at the Kittredge family farm, Lost Nation Hollow, Vermont just a few miles south of the Canadian border. His grandparents are disagreeable and contentious toward each other, yet provide a welcoming and protected home for the boy. The grandparents' marriage is known locally as the 'Forty Years' War.' When their domestic relations with each other reach another frequent The story begins in the summer of 1948 with six-year old Austin Kittredge sent by his widowed father to live with his grandparents at the Kittredge family farm, Lost Nation Hollow, Vermont just a few miles south of the Canadian border. His grandparents are disagreeable and contentious toward each other, yet provide a welcoming and protected home for the boy. The grandparents' marriage is known locally as the 'Forty Years' War.' When their domestic relations with each other reach another frequent impasse, one or both retire to their respective safe domains; grandmother to her 'Egypt' room and grandfather to his 'Labrador' hunting lodge. Despite their frequent feuds, Austin thrives in the rural setting. Summer turns to fall and he stays to attend the local one-room school. [return][return]The novel is written in the manner of an adult looking back at a more simple and unspoiled time in their life. This coming-of-age story follows Austin for the next dozen years. Memorable family members and community neighbors are involved in working, hunting, fishing, and other adventures and events. Sometimes outrageous happenings are made believable; an elephant comes to live its final years on the farm. The extended Kittredge family gathers for an annual family reunion and its Shakespeare play each summer. The farm, Kingdom County, and his grandparents are the 'center of everything' for Austin's childhood years. [return][return]The author, Howard Frank Mosher, skillfully develops humorous yet believable characters. Two elderly cousins, brothers as different as night and day yet linked by family loyalty - - one a part-time Methodist minister and the other a moonshiner, poacher, and long-time blasphemer. An aunt returns for a summer visit and brings with her a Western influence and the reminder that her previous departure was linked to her suspected involvement with a local bank robbery. Years pass, Austin matures and the story evolves to an unexpected conclusion. [return][return]I'm drawn to Mosher's writings because he knows rural and outdoor life. He is adept at integrating beautiful landscape descriptions with characters and events that typify the northeast country near the Canadian border. Highly recommend his work. (lj)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Miller

    Loved this one. It was a book that you read slowly, not the "can't put it down" kind, but it was beautiful and unpredictable. Interesting characters, great scenery descriptions, lovely writing. I will be checking out more by this author. Loved this one. It was a book that you read slowly, not the "can't put it down" kind, but it was beautiful and unpredictable. Interesting characters, great scenery descriptions, lovely writing. I will be checking out more by this author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Truly 3.5 stars as many of my choices are in between. Time for Goodreads to update and add half stars. This is my fifth installment of the Mosher series of Kinneson and Kittredge tales, and nearly rose to four-star status but for the lag in the last fourth of the book. Reverent as always in his portrayal of the great white North (the Vermont-Canadian border and the "folk" who abide the realm), the story follows the coming of age of Austen, son of a widower and namesake of his grandfather, a misa Truly 3.5 stars as many of my choices are in between. Time for Goodreads to update and add half stars. This is my fifth installment of the Mosher series of Kinneson and Kittredge tales, and nearly rose to four-star status but for the lag in the last fourth of the book. Reverent as always in his portrayal of the great white North (the Vermont-Canadian border and the "folk" who abide the realm), the story follows the coming of age of Austen, son of a widower and namesake of his grandfather, a misanthrope to his own family. At the age of 6, Austen bonds with Gramp and his rural surroundings simultaneously. He endures a tempestuous relationship between his grandfather and his grandmother who are more like a wedded Hatfield and McCoy than a loving pair. Young Austen's life unfurls amid the pages with tale after tale recounting his rites of passage between the White and Green Mountains of the Northeast. A surly schoolteacher in a one-room school house, a fowl-stealing predator, an improbably placed fossil, and a foray into the crooked world of carnies give Mosher's yarn his typical legendary air. Yet, never too outrageous as to render a heavily sighed, "What if?" blasphemous. It ended as things come to pass, as things do, and struck a solitary feeling of loneliness deep within me. This is precisely why I love his stories despite similar settings and writing styles. I always come away feeling nostalgic for a time I never lived and I place I never visited. Such magic with words.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas

    This extraordinarily beautiful book surprised me, as I wasn't expecting to fall in love with it. I slowed down so I could savor the pages, the characters, the memorable scenes piling onto each other. I didn't want it to end. It has reshaped my feelings about Northern Vermont -- Northeast Kingdom -- forever. Thank you to Howard Frank Mosher for this gift to readers. This extraordinarily beautiful book surprised me, as I wasn't expecting to fall in love with it. I slowed down so I could savor the pages, the characters, the memorable scenes piling onto each other. I didn't want it to end. It has reshaped my feelings about Northern Vermont -- Northeast Kingdom -- forever. Thank you to Howard Frank Mosher for this gift to readers.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda Spear

    Why do I always seem to "discover" great authors only to find out they have died???? Anyway, I will be reading all of Mosher's books, but I have a feeling this is the one I will love most. Mosher himself lived in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont where this story takes place. Can't help but think it is based somewhat on the people he has known in that area. It's an idyllic but not sappy coming of age tale, beginning when Austen Kittredge is 6 years old and goes to spend the summer with his grandp Why do I always seem to "discover" great authors only to find out they have died???? Anyway, I will be reading all of Mosher's books, but I have a feeling this is the one I will love most. Mosher himself lived in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont where this story takes place. Can't help but think it is based somewhat on the people he has known in that area. It's an idyllic but not sappy coming of age tale, beginning when Austen Kittredge is 6 years old and goes to spend the summer with his grandparents (who seldom speak to each other) and stays for 12 years. Not that his father does not play a part also; it's just that his wife has died and he has a very intense job as headmaster of a school. In fact, the whole family is in the picture at one time or another. As indicated from my rating, I really loved this book. His writing is amazing, evicting a sense of place as well as strong characters. Can't praise this book enough.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sunny Shore

    I gave it a 4 because it was a wonderful book written a little bit like Kent Haruf and Wallace Stegner. At least it seemed that way, altho their books have midwestern and western backgrounds and this was Vermont. It was actually not my type of book, but it was a book I respected and learned from. The writing and characterization were top-notch. Perhaps, I was a bit bored at times with the chapters...some chapters....and then others really took me by surprised and delighted me. A 6 year old boy i I gave it a 4 because it was a wonderful book written a little bit like Kent Haruf and Wallace Stegner. At least it seemed that way, altho their books have midwestern and western backgrounds and this was Vermont. It was actually not my type of book, but it was a book I respected and learned from. The writing and characterization were top-notch. Perhaps, I was a bit bored at times with the chapters...some chapters....and then others really took me by surprised and delighted me. A 6 year old boy in the late '40's goes to live with his grandparents in a very rural area of Vermont near the Canadian border, after his mother dies. His dad remains in his life and visits. At times, I thought why would his father place him with this crotchety grandfather in a place with no electricity. But then as the story enfolds, I understand why the father would know it was in his best interest to be with his grandma and grandpa. They are complex characters and this book is multi-dimensional on many levels. Many ways to perceive it. I think it would be a different experience for everyone. Also, the chapters are like short stories; each could stand alone if it had to, altho the author might disagree with me. Not everyone will like this but many who have read it have absolutely loved it and it got high marks altho few read it. Try it and be one of those adventurous people to read Northern Borders and see what interesting things you might cull from it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Crimm

    wonderful. best i’ve read this year. do not read overmuch into this, but could not but think of reepicheep.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    This book was a time-travel experience, taking readers back to northern Vermont in the late '40s. At the age of 6, our narrator was sent by his widowed father to live with his grandparents on the border of Canada and Vermont. Filled with eccentric relatives and a bucolic setting, Mosher's novel was a delightfully relaxing read. This book was a time-travel experience, taking readers back to northern Vermont in the late '40s. At the age of 6, our narrator was sent by his widowed father to live with his grandparents on the border of Canada and Vermont. Filled with eccentric relatives and a bucolic setting, Mosher's novel was a delightfully relaxing read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Fritz

    I LOVE Howard Frank Mosher. A few years ago I read (at the encouragement of my baseball-loving son-in-law) "Waiting for Teddy Williams" and agreed with Dave that this was one of the best baseball books I'd ever read. Not only were the descriptions of baseball (pitching, stategy, love-of-the-game) picture-perfect, but the characters were also drawn with a box-full of color pencils. Deep and varied, real and yet somehow tinged with an aura of historical sentimentality. This book, "Northern Borders I LOVE Howard Frank Mosher. A few years ago I read (at the encouragement of my baseball-loving son-in-law) "Waiting for Teddy Williams" and agreed with Dave that this was one of the best baseball books I'd ever read. Not only were the descriptions of baseball (pitching, stategy, love-of-the-game) picture-perfect, but the characters were also drawn with a box-full of color pencils. Deep and varied, real and yet somehow tinged with an aura of historical sentimentality. This book, "Northern Borders," continues in the same vein, and imitates the setting of "Teddy Williams": northern and rural Vermont. The central character is once again a small boy, Austen Kittredge, who at age 6 goes to live with his paternal grandparents so that he can attend the small country school. (Apparently there was an old agreement with the state university to allow all graduates from this country school a tuition-free admission.) Austen's mother is dead, and his father is a "schoolteacher" -- which is scorned and ridiculed by Austen's grandfather. In fact, this grandfather -- also named Austen Kittredge -- is a crotchety old man, self-named "the meanest bastard in Lost Nation". Austen's grandparents are engaged in a "Forty Years War," the battles of which provide some of the most amusing episodes in this novel. The story has been compared to "Cold Sassy Tree," and I would also add "Fried Green Tomatoes," as it portrays a time gone by, it explores the tangled relationships of family and community, and it tells a series of adventure stories. The county fair. The elephant. The somewhat abusive schoolteacher who is hired merely to keep order, not to teach -- in fact, it's unclear whether she even knows how to read. The court case when Grandma sued Grandpa to keep him from flooding her apple orchard by re-routing the river to unblock a log jam. Each chapter provided another absorbing short story that was both exciting and nostalgic, leading up to the culminating adventure: the post-high school canoe/camping trip through Labrador that Grandpa and Austen shared. I am anxious to pick up another Mosher book. I love the warm fuzzies feelings that his books evoke, combined with exciting adventure and fun.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dominica

    A simply superb novel that creates unforgettable characters drawn in stark relief against an equally unforgettable landscape—that of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and, in the latter part of the book, the remote, unmapped parts of Labrador's "Great Corner." I had the same feeling reading Northern Borders that I had when I first discovered Sinclair Lewis' novels. Both writers know the landscapes of their writing so intimately, and with such loving attention to detail, that I cannot help but feel tha A simply superb novel that creates unforgettable characters drawn in stark relief against an equally unforgettable landscape—that of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and, in the latter part of the book, the remote, unmapped parts of Labrador's "Great Corner." I had the same feeling reading Northern Borders that I had when I first discovered Sinclair Lewis' novels. Both writers know the landscapes of their writing so intimately, and with such loving attention to detail, that I cannot help but feel that there will never be another writer who captures the feel of a midwestern small town (Lewis) or that of a small Vermont town (Mosher). Both writers capture with vivid eloquence the powerful yearning for escape from these small town boundaries—and both create a sense of the sheer inexorability of the ties that bind a series of strong, romantic men and women like iron to their communities, and the tragedies that inevitably ensue when they attempt to escape. For Lewis, these escapes often come full circle—after grappling with the smallness of their fates, his characters return home, sadder, wiser, resigned. For Mosher, there is no such capitulation. In Northern Borders, his gloriously rich canvas of eccentrics all manage to pull off some kind of escape or other—and in spectacular style, whether it is turning the imagined Labrador into the trip of a lifetime that nearly takes the lives of grandfather and son, to extraordinary burials in the family plot for the hardworn women of the family—only one of whom manages to escape for good from the hardscrabble subsistence living that characterized northern Vermont life in the 1950s.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    This book, so redolent of Vermont and a certain type of life, is my favorite piece by my favorite Vermont writer, Irasburg resident Howard Frank Mosher. The book tells the story of a young boy whose widowed father sends him to live with his grandparents in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. It’s a bit less well-known than Mosher’s A Stranger In The Kingdom, but it’s a far less by-the-numbers narrative. The book contains a near-culmination of a thread that has been woven through all of Mosher’s works: t This book, so redolent of Vermont and a certain type of life, is my favorite piece by my favorite Vermont writer, Irasburg resident Howard Frank Mosher. The book tells the story of a young boy whose widowed father sends him to live with his grandparents in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. It’s a bit less well-known than Mosher’s A Stranger In The Kingdom, but it’s a far less by-the-numbers narrative. The book contains a near-culmination of a thread that has been woven through all of Mosher’s works: the recognized beauty of the pastoral world, minus the romanticism typical to such portrayals. The sadness of that pastoral world’s passing is depicted without melancholy; the character Austen Kittredge is too much his own, too self-possessed to waste time with ‘emotion recollected in tranquility,’ as Wordsworth and the other romantics did. Whereas in Wordsworth’s long poem "Michael" a father makes a covenant with his prodigal son in the form of a stone sheepfold, Austen Kittredge makes a covenant with his grandson from a canoe ride in the wilds of Labrador. The difference -- an abstraction of the imagination forced on an immobile thing of permanence versus an immediate and yet evanescent adventure -- is emblematic of Mosher’s work. He constantly tweaks readers’ preconceived notions of what rural life and those who live it are really about.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kolumbina

    What a writer!!! I was really sad that the book ended, wanted to read more and more. Five stars at least, wish I could give more, 7, 8 or even 10. This is a book with real people, people with characters and people whose words mean something. When I started with "Northern Borders" I was thinking how could anyone leave his only child/son (6 year old) with his grandparents in the middle of nowhere. Well I found the answer!!! Of course he could, he left him at the right place with the right people, w What a writer!!! I was really sad that the book ended, wanted to read more and more. Five stars at least, wish I could give more, 7, 8 or even 10. This is a book with real people, people with characters and people whose words mean something. When I started with "Northern Borders" I was thinking how could anyone leave his only child/son (6 year old) with his grandparents in the middle of nowhere. Well I found the answer!!! Of course he could, he left him at the right place with the right people, who taught him everything and never let him down and better than own parent. Luckily the boy was smart so he appreciated his grandparents. What an interesting story! Could easily picture the characters in the book, had a feeling that I am there. There is so much love in this book, real love and commitment. I loved this book very, very much. Enjoyed in every word, couldn't put it down. Really glad that I found HF Mosher and I am going to read everything he ever wrote. Really nice. And there is a lot to be learned from HF Mosher.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This was a reread.....I was assigned this originally back in high school. Northern Borders is told by Austen "Tut" Kittredge III, telling the tale of his childhood in the Northeast Kingdom of VT, specifically in the fictional town of Kingdom County. From the age of 6 until 18, Tut lived there with his grandparents (with various appearances of extended family and his father) in the 1940's and 50's. This is a beautiful look at rural Vermont at that time period, when farms and the old way of life we This was a reread.....I was assigned this originally back in high school. Northern Borders is told by Austen "Tut" Kittredge III, telling the tale of his childhood in the Northeast Kingdom of VT, specifically in the fictional town of Kingdom County. From the age of 6 until 18, Tut lived there with his grandparents (with various appearances of extended family and his father) in the 1940's and 50's. This is a beautiful look at rural Vermont at that time period, when farms and the old way of life were changing. It's also a look at the quirky, stubborn and independent people that inhabit the state, reminding me a lot of some of the "old codgers" I knew (or knew of) growing up. Mosher's writing is and was beautiful, transportive, hilarious......and sometimes, heartbreaking. As someone who was also very close to grandparent's growing up.....it hit close to home. And the last few beautiful lines just broke me into pieces.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rich

    This book is simply, yet beautifully written. A coming of age story, yes, but with rich characters and seemingly simple relationships that at times are quite complex. I'm always a sucker for books about our grandparents and great-grandparents' generations, especially wonderful stories from the heart. It takes place between the 1940's and 1980's in upstate Vermont. A location I am not familiar with, yet I felt as if at times I was part of the scenery as it was so masterfully written. This is one This book is simply, yet beautifully written. A coming of age story, yes, but with rich characters and seemingly simple relationships that at times are quite complex. I'm always a sucker for books about our grandparents and great-grandparents' generations, especially wonderful stories from the heart. It takes place between the 1940's and 1980's in upstate Vermont. A location I am not familiar with, yet I felt as if at times I was part of the scenery as it was so masterfully written. This is one of probably a handful of books that I feel I could actually go back and read a second or third time, simply because I liked the stories so much. I have a feeling this will be one of those books that years down the line, I will remember an odd detail from or subconsciously reference to myself now and then and smile.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janet C-B

    This is a story set in rural Vermont, near the Canadian border, in the 1950's & 1960's. The main character is Austin Kitteridge, a 6 yr old boy, who goes to live with his grandparents on their farm after his mother dies. The farm, Lost Nation Hollow, is aptly named, because it is the the family farm that is very isolated from mainstream America during that time frame. The boy, Austin, has very eccentric grandparents and extended family, yet he thrives in Lost Nation Hollow. This is a book that I This is a story set in rural Vermont, near the Canadian border, in the 1950's & 1960's. The main character is Austin Kitteridge, a 6 yr old boy, who goes to live with his grandparents on their farm after his mother dies. The farm, Lost Nation Hollow, is aptly named, because it is the the family farm that is very isolated from mainstream America during that time frame. The boy, Austin, has very eccentric grandparents and extended family, yet he thrives in Lost Nation Hollow. This is a book that I read slowly, one chapter at a time. It is filled with vivid descriptions of the people and the setting. Each chapter could be considered a story by itself, but all chapters are linked and lead slowly to the final chapter. The final chapter, unlike the rest of the book, is fast-paced, adventurous and leads to a satisfying conclusion. I rate the book 4 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gregg

    After I had read Mosher's Walking to Gatlinburg I had to read everything else our library had by him -- it was that good. I missed this one the first time around, but it might be the best one of all. It's written as a series of vignettes taking place during the years a young Austen Kittredge spends on his grandparents' farm in northern Vermont. Those who have read Mosher's books will know that despite the well-drawn characters, Vermont really is the main one, and a fabulous one it is. On finishin After I had read Mosher's Walking to Gatlinburg I had to read everything else our library had by him -- it was that good. I missed this one the first time around, but it might be the best one of all. It's written as a series of vignettes taking place during the years a young Austen Kittredge spends on his grandparents' farm in northern Vermont. Those who have read Mosher's books will know that despite the well-drawn characters, Vermont really is the main one, and a fabulous one it is. On finishing this book I thought to myself, that was as good as A River Runs Through It, which is high praise indeed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    If you’ve not read anything by Mr. Mosher, you are in for a treat. He is a wonderful storyteller and this novel takes you back to experience what it was like to grow up on a farm in Vermont during the 40’s and 50’s. The beauty and harshness of rural life, the relationships that these beautifully drawn characters have with each other and the land grace this work with a quiet intensity.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Never heard of this author, picked it up on a whim. Could not have loved it more. Perhaps it was just that I love a good story of farm life in New England in the 40s - and who knew I loved that? But I think it is more because the grandparents were each awesome in their own way and the whole thing reminded me of visiting my own grandparents every summer, feuds and all.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Kathleen

    Howard Frank Mosher is a treasure. I love to revisit favorite books from time to time and his work is particularly rewarding in this regard. This is my second reading of the book and I am absorbing new and fascinating details. He is one of America's best writers. Howard Frank Mosher is a treasure. I love to revisit favorite books from time to time and his work is particularly rewarding in this regard. This is my second reading of the book and I am absorbing new and fascinating details. He is one of America's best writers.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    What a beautifully visual story. Definitely on my "favorites" list! What a beautifully visual story. Definitely on my "favorites" list!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karenbike Patterson

    This was the best novel to end a difficult year. Austen Kitteridge is sent to live with his grandparents in northern Vermont in the 1940s and 1950s when he is six. He lives with them on a remote farm in the Lost Nation until he is 18 and graduates from high school. These two people shape his life and memories forever and you will see why. Grandmother and Grandfather engage in the "Forty Year's War" and bicker and fight until the end. It is a wonder they produced four children. But they had a pro This was the best novel to end a difficult year. Austen Kitteridge is sent to live with his grandparents in northern Vermont in the 1940s and 1950s when he is six. He lives with them on a remote farm in the Lost Nation until he is 18 and graduates from high school. These two people shape his life and memories forever and you will see why. Grandmother and Grandfather engage in the "Forty Year's War" and bicker and fight until the end. It is a wonder they produced four children. But they had a prosperous and enduring relationship to the land, their family and the community. Each chapter relates something about their values (bringing home an old and abused elephant from the carnival or shooting an endangered snowy owl because he was killing the prize chickens) and the things they dreamed about (Grandmother- Egypt and Grandfather- Labrador). Austen not only embeds the love of nature and survival but also the love of learning, books, and achievement. But the best thing about the novel is in the final pages after Grandmother dies and Austen and his Grandfather take a long awaited journey into the uncharted territory of Labrador where Grandfather was on a survey crew when he was 18. The journey itself is worth all that comes before it. Wonderfully written and evocative of all the love you ever felt for someone so close to you. For me, it was a perfect book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    I loved this book. It reads like a memoir although I don't believe that it is actually Mosher's life. The characters are complex and wonderful and by the end of the book, I totally understood Gramps, but wish the same denouement occured for Grandma. The stories that young Austen tell are often humorous, but always insights to character, the times and especially the life in norther Vermont. One of the things I loved was the naming of the characters, Austen's nickname, Tut; the Big Aunt, Maiden Au I loved this book. It reads like a memoir although I don't believe that it is actually Mosher's life. The characters are complex and wonderful and by the end of the book, I totally understood Gramps, but wish the same denouement occured for Grandma. The stories that young Austen tell are often humorous, but always insights to character, the times and especially the life in norther Vermont. One of the things I loved was the naming of the characters, Austen's nickname, Tut; the Big Aunt, Maiden Aunt Rose and the Little Aunts, Freddi and Klee; the horses, Ralph Waldo and Henry David; Grandpa's cousins, Whiskey Jack and John Wesylean - no spoilers, but you have to read the book to find the significance of the names. Definitely recommend this book!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul Swithers

    Highlights from the author's childhood provide a well written view of mid-century life in small town Vermont as a thriving community's economy disintegrates leaving a landscape of decaying abandoned farm buildings, overgrown fields and once close knit families drifting off to prosper elsewhere as the remaining members age and pass. The characters and events are colorfully portrayed in all of their eccentric complexity. Family feuds, country fairs, holiday celebrations, family reunions, one room Highlights from the author's childhood provide a well written view of mid-century life in small town Vermont as a thriving community's economy disintegrates leaving a landscape of decaying abandoned farm buildings, overgrown fields and once close knit families drifting off to prosper elsewhere as the remaining members age and pass. The characters and events are colorfully portrayed in all of their eccentric complexity. Family feuds, country fairs, holiday celebrations, family reunions, one room school houses, community Shakespeare presentations, hunting, fishing, logging, and farming all play in here along with family secrets that slowly reveal their truths.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    A well hidden treasure that was a recommendation from my book club, I was hesitant to warm up to this memoir style novel, but the process was ineluctable. The author is so masterful in painting scenery from the nature of small town 1950's Vermont, with unexpected twists, so that the experience will mimic a journey through the woods. I personally enjoyed getting to know the main character Austen's grandparents, such an eccentric pair. I was particularly struck by the sheer volume of work they did A well hidden treasure that was a recommendation from my book club, I was hesitant to warm up to this memoir style novel, but the process was ineluctable. The author is so masterful in painting scenery from the nature of small town 1950's Vermont, with unexpected twists, so that the experience will mimic a journey through the woods. I personally enjoyed getting to know the main character Austen's grandparents, such an eccentric pair. I was particularly struck by the sheer volume of work they did. I nearly put the book down due to the sheer unbelievable amount of activities they were able to accomplish. However when you consider that electricity had yet to come to them, I persevered onward. I enjoyed the author's style, incorporating several clauses into his sentences so that I actually had to read and not skim.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judy Stevens

    This story started out as "ok" but continued to grow upon me more as I read on. The last chapter, Northern Borders" took this from a four star rating to a five. The final chapter allows the reader to understand the basis and reasons into the idiosyncrysies of two major characters. Coincidently, I read this book while vacationing in Vermont. Overall a great story of a special time, a special place and the people who lived through it. This story started out as "ok" but continued to grow upon me more as I read on. The last chapter, Northern Borders" took this from a four star rating to a five. The final chapter allows the reader to understand the basis and reasons into the idiosyncrysies of two major characters. Coincidently, I read this book while vacationing in Vermont. Overall a great story of a special time, a special place and the people who lived through it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim Blackburn

    Great book. Captures life on a hilly Vermont farm in the late 1940s and 1950s. A young man of 6 moves in with his grandparents on their farm. The book captures the hard life that hill farmers lived during this time. The book is filled with vivid descriptions of daily work, family reunions, hilarious escapades, and ultimately the death of his grandparents. I recommend this book as important documentation of this lifestyle.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben Weinberg

    I read this book years ago when I lived on a remote Maine Island. We bought boxes of books from used books stores each fall to carry us through the long winters. I am rereading the book now as a read aloud for the staff of our school while we are locked down. I love it even more a second time and discovering the life of the language that happens when a book is read aloud.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    This deserves five stars but it is a book that had me in tears more times than any book I can recall. It is a novel but, I think, quite autobiographical and has many aspects similar to my growing-up life spending summers at my grandparents farm after my father died. Mosher was born in 1942 and died in 2017 which is similar to my life span except happily for me, I'm still alive. I hope to read more of his novels but not any time soon. I need something frivolous. This deserves five stars but it is a book that had me in tears more times than any book I can recall. It is a novel but, I think, quite autobiographical and has many aspects similar to my growing-up life spending summers at my grandparents farm after my father died. Mosher was born in 1942 and died in 2017 which is similar to my life span except happily for me, I'm still alive. I hope to read more of his novels but not any time soon. I need something frivolous.

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