OFF THE LEASH by Helen Husher


Subversive Journeys Around Vermont
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A satisfying book of travel throughout the Green Mountain State, mixing guidebook and essay. Husher, a New England journalist and writer, knows her home state well. Her intention in this ’subversive” book’subversive because, she says, it centers on “things overlooked and perhaps undervalued because they do not fit comfortably into the larger frame——is to take her readers into little-known corners of the state, far from the usual tourist itineraries. In this she succeeds admirably, visiting places such as Barre, the center of a surprisingly active radical politics in the early years of this century; Randolph, where the fortunate Justin Morgan developed the hard-working breed of horse that bears his name; and Lake Champlain, where, locals say, there lives a weird serpent to rival Scotland’s Loch Ness monster. Along the way she points out good rest stops, ice-cream parlors, coffeehouses, country churches, statues, and gardens, studding her little essays with anecdote, reminiscence, and tidbits of local history. Husher, in the manner of an on-the-bus tour guide, sometimes tries a little too hard to be chatty and funny, dishing up groan-inducing lines like “The only trouble with cemeteries is that the people in them are all dead.” But she’s pleasantly self-effacing, and she knows her stuff; for one thing, her quick take on the history of a New England literary genre, the Indian Captivity narrative, is a real gem. “These essays may persuade you to make an inexpensive but satisfying junket to Vermont, or they may persuade you there is no wonder greater than the one of being exactly, precisely where you are.” Husher’s entertaining, well-written book is likely to inspire more than one vacation to retrace her steps, and armchair travelers will enjoy it as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-88150-427-0
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999


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