Monday, February 2, 2015
The Fire Balloon by Ruth Moore
This the story of the Sewell family and life in 'Scratch Corner'. Scratch Corner was the nickname for Carter's Landing, a small coastal Maine village. But when the summer people started coming they wanted something nice to call 'their' town and successfully had the name changed to Granite Hook.
The Sewell's consisted of Gram Sarah, the sharp tongued matriarch and her two sons, Sylvanus and Morgan and their families. Sylvanus lives by the old school. Slow and methodical, provides for his family, but doesn't want for all the trappings and extra's in life. A man of very few words, but strong and honest and well respected. His wife Phoebe is much like him. They have five children and the two oldest, Wes and Theoline are prominent in the storyline.
Wes has spent his summers working for the Beacons, a wealthy summer family. He's been led to feel he is part of the family and expects to be offered a fine job, his ticket out, when he finishes school. But as this summer of his 17th year plays out he finds out things aren't always as they seem and there is a big divide between classes. When the job is offered will he take it or stay in Scratch Corner?
Theoline dislikes the Beacon's and their snobbery and it drives her crazy that Wes 'grovels' to them for acceptance into their world. She knows it will never happen and it is a bone between the brother and sister. Theo takes a summer job at the diner in Bellport and finds love or what she thinks is love. But will she learn what real love is from an unlikely source?
Morgan is the younger Sewell and like his mother, driven. He works like tomorrow might not come and wants to have lots tucked away for a rainy day. He has purchased some land and intends to build a weir there. But the previous owner has let old Job Carter and his two sons live in an old farm house on the land for years and Job feels like it's his land now. What lengths will he go to to sabotage Morgan's weir? Will blood be spilled over it? Morgan's new bride, Emily, from the south is pregnant and depressed in her new isolated life here on the rough coast of Maine. She is alone all the time because Morgan is on the sea from way before sun up to after dark. She and her mother-in-law, Gram Sarah do not see eye to eye on anything. When Emily befriends old Uncle Wheat and Floyd Craddock in her desperate need for friends will she push Gram too far?
Several climactic build ups and exciting scenes in this book. I have to say I don't think this one is as good as The Weir, but I still enjoyed it and looking forward to all the rest of her books.
Beautiful, evocative descriptions of the rugged Maine coast and it's unpredictable weather, and solid authentic characters give us the kind of superb tale we expect from Ruth Moore.
" On the afternoon of the fourth day, the storm blew itself out. The wind stopped in the middle of a gust, as if all at once it had got tired; the sky lightened and in the west appeared a patch of milky cloud, mottled with baby blue. It seemed in almost a matter of minutes the sun was out and the clouds low down on the eastern horizon. For a while they lay, a narrowing strip that changed from blue-gray to silver, and then to pearl, as they slid out of sight in the distance. On the sea, big rollers still tumbled, but the arrogance was gone out of them. Crack Corn Ledges were a full acre of foam, boiling white against blue, but the breeze across them was soft and warm, smelling of wet leaves and loam from the land.
The storm had left the earth as sodden as an old mop. Mud squelched underfoot, gave way suddenly and overran rubbers. Hardhack Brook was out of its banks and lay in a series of crazy lakes in a dozen fields. The shore line was littered with wreckage-seaweed torn from the sea bottom, starfish and shells, mashed into a vast tangle with lobster buoys, warp and traps, and a hundred varieties of flotsam. On the end of the Hook, a twenty-foot section of fish wharf, broken away from somewhere down the coast, washed up and down in the breakers, its big timbers grinding to fur on the bare rock with a noise like thunder.
The village came out into the golden weather. Windows were thrown open. Little boys, where they could get out of sight of their mothers, took off shoes and stockings and ran wildly through puddles of icy water. It looked as if the storm, in its ramping, had found somewhere the first warm and pleasant afternoon of spring and in departing had dropped it down carelessly over the land."
Hope you can get your hands one of her books!