Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Friend

Stratton-Porter, Gene.  (1904). Freckles.  New York:  Grosset & Dunlap Publishers.

Once again, I am on the trail of an author (Gene Stratton-Porter) who I had heard of as a child (and who was popular during the time of my Grandmother Lottie Lillian Hart Brenz).  This past year, I read Girl of the Limberlost and loved it.  Richard came across another of her books (Freckles) at a sale.  Bingo, I have another book to read. (I think we may even have more of her books awaiting which we have purchased at auction.)

Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist, author, photographer, film maker in the early part of the last century.   She was born in northern Indiana, which is the setting for the "Limberlost" and for Freckles.

Freckles is an orphan who is known only by one name "Freckles".  He comes from a brutal and impoverished background.  In this book, he is now a young man who has made his first adventures outside the orphanage and the city into the wilds of the Limberlost complete with its wild beauty, snakes, poisonous plants, stinging insects, outlaws, and Swamp Angel.  Freckles becomes guardian for the Limberlost for the supervisor of a logging operation which will soon selectively harvest timbers there.  People around him fall in love with him because of his honesty,  integrity, innocence, and love of the wild.  He loves the exquisite beauty of what he sees and is ashamed by the fact that he knows not the names of the infinite expressions of nature. At this point, his boss helps him acquire books to learn about the swamp and its creatures.

The Swamp Angel who at first does not seem real to Freckles but is the product of considerable wealth and privilege enters the picture. Her wealth and privilege extend far beyond the material as she has only known those who would love her.  Along with the Swamp Angel comes the "Bird Woman" who studies and writes books on wild creatures of the Limberlost.  The Swamp Angel is quite taken by Freckles and he is of her.  He is very aware of their differences which in the face of the purity of his spirit, she sets aside.  He cannot.

The story includes outlaws who target the trees for cutting, drama which could well end Freckles' young life, as well as 2 women who are courageous and life saving.  With the assistance of McLean, who is the supervisor and who becomes recognized as a Father to Freckles, and the Swamp Angel, Freckles begins to think about education.  His exquisite talent in vocal music begins to shine.

There is far more in this text. I am finding this a slow read, only because I am savoring every word.

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