Book recommendation: The Evening and the Morning

Title: The Evening and the Morning
Author: Ken Follett
Review by: Friends of Tualatin Library member Laura Baker

Follett is a powerful storyteller who is incredibly skilled at holding the reader’s attention and he definitely doesn’t disappoint in this story.” –Laura

Ken Follett became well known in the 1970s as a thriller writer with a string of international bestsellers, beginning with Eye of the Needle in 1978. His reputation as a thriller writer changed dramatically in 1989 with the publication of The Pillars of the Earth, a thousand-page historical epic focused on the decades-long construction of a cathedral in medieval England. The novel was an immense success and the first of three that described the gradual creation of the English town of Kingsbridge and the many people who played significant roles in its development.

The latest installment in the Kingsbridge series is The Evening and the Morning (September 2020, Viking), which is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth. Set in the Dark Ages in England, it begins in 997 and ends 10 years later. It follows the adventures and struggles of a diverse set of characters in alternating story lines.

The novel begins with a Viking raid on the coastal town where the protagonist, Edgar, lives with his family. The raid results in the death of young Edgar’s true love and forces his family to move to Dreng’s Ferry, a small and insignificant hamlet where he begins to develop skill as a builder. Edgar meets and allies himself with Brother Aldred, a monk at the nearby priory, and together they overcome continuing obstacles to transform Dreng’s Ferry into a center of spiritual learning and commerce. Edgar eventually builds the bridge that gives the town its purpose and new name.

The other main story line involves Lady Ragna of Cherbourg, a French noblewoman who moves to England after her marriage to Wilfwulf, a local ealdorman. Her disastrous marriage brings her to the attention of the novel’s central villain, Wilfwulf’s brother Wynstan, a corrupt bishop obsessed with power and wealth. Wynstan stands between Edgar and Brother Aldred and their larger plans for the community, as well as between Edgar and Ragna and their relationship.

The Evening and the Morning continues to expand the story of the building of a civilization with its laws, structures and beliefs. The characters are memorable, the pace is swift, the story plenty absorbing with something dramatic happening in almost every chapter. Follett is a powerful storyteller who is incredibly skilled at holding the reader’s attention and he definitely doesn’t disappoint in this story. I was riveted by the action in the first chapter and remained so until the very last page. I hope this won’t be the last installment in the Kingsbridge series.

The Evening and the Morning is available from WCCLS in hardcover, e-book, downloadable audiobook, audiobook CD, and even Large Print!

Book recommendation

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author: Kim Michelle Richardson
Review by: Friends of Tualatin Library member Eleanore Mickus

A New York Times Bestseller!

“For me, this book will be unforgettable for a long time. It was so engrossing that I am going to read more books by this author.” –Eleanore

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
is a historical fiction about an unusual group of librarians in the 1930’s who deliver books and other reading materials by horseback to the hill folk of Kentucky. They were part of the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project implemented by the WPA. The town of Troublesome Creek has Cussy Mary Carter and her mule, Junia, delivering reading materials to people who could not get them any other way.

Our Book Woman, Cussy, known to the locals as Bluet, has a rare genetic disorder unique to the people of her area. The disorder, methemoglobinemia, causes them to have blue colored skin. Because of her blue skin, Cussy experiences much prejudice and discrimination. But, she is so intent on bringing books into the lives of the people, she is willing to put herself in cruel and dangerous situations to deliver them.

We learn of the horrible poverty and hunger that most suffer and as a result another disease I have not heard of in years, pellagra. Cussy’s father, and many of the men around the town of Troublesome Creek, work in the dangerous, dirty coal mines but have no other way to earn a living there. We learn of the union that tried to get better working conditions for these miners and the isolation that families experienced living in the hills.

There were uplifting parts in this story of Cussy’s patrons and their desire to read and share information like recipes and patterns. Cussy would put together a journal with articles from the newspaper and magazines to fill in for the scarcity of donated books. We also learn of a few of the patrons who took steps to advance themselves through study and looking for more work opportunities outside of Troublesome Creek.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is available through WCCLS in book, large print, eBook, audiobook, and book club kit formats. We invite you to place a hold.