This book was recommended to me when I recently visited family back east for the first time in many years. I had asked directions,especially wanting to take my 18-year old daughter to the Women's Rights Museum in Seneca Falls on the drive from Seneca Lake to Syracuse. I remembered having seen the small blue sign along the rural highway and always regretting not having turned there. Being a teen in the 60's, I marveled that the consciousness-raising and role changes that were exploding then (and that now have made so many unappreciated opportunities for girls and women) began in the Finger Lakes area where my great grandparents had settled and my parents grew up! This novel recreates that era and makes the instigation of radical activities by Elizabeth Cady Stanton understandable through the description of the female and male character's lives. While an important theme, the women's rights information is peripheral to the main story. Some detail about characters is obvious but not distracting in the intention to prepare the reader for a series. As this is the first of a series written about a time of restricted public behavior for women, Glynis Tryon's cautious hesitance is understandable and realistic as she follows her instincts and intelligence to solve the murder. I have ordered more books in the series, and expect the maiden librarian's confidence to increase, just as we womenfolk each get more uppity as we proceed through life, finding that our feelings and ideas matter and that we can make a difference.
The description of life along the Erie Canal, the foods served at Thanksgiving dinner, the vegetation and weather were surprisingly familiar to me. My elderly father took me into the Post Office in PennYan, N.Y. and showed me the numbered brass mailbox where,as a boy, he used to pick up his father's mail. There is a sturdy practicality common to Upstate New Yorkers that is also captured in Monfredo's characters. She truly conveys the spirit and history of the area.
If you like the book, go visit! Seneca Falls (there really are beautiful falls there) is not far from Corning, N.Y., with a wonderful tour of the Corning Glass Works. Oneida Silver Company is located along Oneida Lake north of Syracuse. Drive west to Rochester and visit Kodak Corporation's informative exhibits. A bit furthertoward Buffalo is the beauty and power of Niagara Falls , where you can don a raincoat to ride the famous Maid of the Mist right into the whirling base of the falls. It was the American Indians in that area who told settlers that the long, clear Finger Lakes (Canadaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Cazenovia ) were formed by a swipe of the ancient Great Bear's paw. Although we usually think of bear as fierce, native americans saw him as a wise healer because he knew which plants to eat, and most like man, because he stood on two feet while grazing. A special area, even Joseph Smith had his spiritual experiences that began the Church of Latter Day Saints in nearby Palmyra. The majestic reenactment pageant is attended by more than Mormons each year.
There is more to New York than New York City. The lives of its people are inherent to our American Culture. Enjoy this book; be there!!