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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Reference Desk

by Janet Hamill


For Hemingway afficionados who have read and reread A Moveable Feast, there's a delightful new mystery waiting for you on the shelves of current fiction at the Goshen Public Library and Historical Society. Murder in Montparnasse by Howard Engel is a tale of literary Paris peopled with lightly concealed characterizations of Hemingway and his circle of expatriates. Set in 1925, Murder in Montparnasse revolves around the serial killings of beautiful young women on the Left Bank. Artists' models for the most part, the victims are killed in a manner uncannily like the victims of London's Jack the Ripper. The novel is told in the first person by Michael Ward, a young Canadian journalist who falls in with Jason Waddington (a.k.a. Hemingway) and his crowd. Ward has a brief liaison with Laure Duclos, a French Model associated with the Waddington coterie. When Laure becomes a victim of "Jack de Paris" the fear that has gripped the streets of the City of Light invades the elite café society of writers and artists. Howard Engel has gone to great lengths to recreate the ambiance of Hemingway's Paris with a great feel for the time, place and people. Whether you read Murder in montparnasse for its taut suspense or historical realism, you're sure to be entertained.

New to the shelves of current non-fiction at the library is A Passionate Sisterhood. This group biography by Kathleen Jones is a telescopic account of the lives of the sisters, wives and daughters of the Lake Poets. In the late eighteenth century Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey moved to the Lake District of northern England. They were drawn to the remote area by the wildness of its mountains, the roar of its torrents, and the sublime vistas afforded by the lakes. But while the extremes of nature were inspiring to the Romantic imagination, the rigors and isolation of the landscape put a great strain on the women responsible for supplementing the privations of life with harmony and cheerfulness in their households. The six women of A Passionate Sisterhood formed a series of passionate, triangular relationships. They are: The three Fricker sisters, Sarah Coleridge, Edith Southy and Mary Lovell, Dorothy Wordsworth and her childhoold friends Mary (who married William) and Sara Hutchinson. Together they created an extended family that kept the Lake Poets in association with one another long after the men had ceased to be friends. Kathleen Jones takes us into the kitchens, sickrooms, and eventually the madwoman's attics of these major Romantic households and introduces us to the real world of false teeth, opium addiction, illness, and dementia behind the Romantic myth. Informed by the letters and journals of the women, A Passionate Sisterhood is an illuminating new telling of the passionate attachments and jealousies of these interconnected lives and a contribution to a fuller understanding of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey.