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ON KINGDOM MOUNTAIN by Howard Frank Mosher

ON KINGDOM MOUNTAIN

By Howard Frank Mosher

Pub Date: July 11th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-618-19723-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Plucky spinster and rakish pilot meet cute in 1930s Vermont. Sentimentality, laced with whimsy, oozes like syrup—sleep-inducing stuff.

Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson, still “strikingly attractive” at 50, tucks lustily into her vittles. Duchess of Kingdom Mountain, über-quaint hamlet astride the U.S.-Canada border, she needs the carbs for fighting progress in the form of a proposed highway. Mosher (Waiting for Teddy Williams, 2004, etc.) cuts his characters out of industrial-strength cardboard, and we can file Jane under “eccentric.” She’s fixin’ to conquer the North American Bird Carving Contest; as “bookwoman extraordinaire,” she runs the Atheneum, a library peopled with life-sized figurines of fusty lit gods (Dr. Johnson, Twain, Dickens). Improbably, in lectures to nodding villagers, she rails at Shakespeare, decrying “The Pretender of Avon.” Something like real life arrives when Henry Satterfield, proprietor of “Flying Circus Rainmaking and Pyrotechnic Services Beaumont Texas” crashes his biplane into her yard. Soon enough comes mutual eye-moistening, as Miss JHK is smitten by the galoot whose “gentlemanliness seemed very genuine.” But, goshdarnit, it’s not! Turns out the rogue is after $100,000 in “double-eagle twenty-dollar gold pieces,” stolen from Kingdom Common by dastardly Confederates back in Civil War days. He heard tell of the treasure from his grandpappy. Aswoon, Miss Jane’s unsuspecting; besides, she’s got her hawk-carving hands full contending with cousin Eben Kinneson Esquire, fat-cat bossman of the Great North Woods Pulp and Paper Company, who’s itchin’ to run the highway through Jane’s Kingdom and despoil its pristine splendor. Readers with the patience for “yarns” may thrill to the clotted-yet-clichéd story and fall hard for the Cato-quoting Jane, doughty-yet-democratic dame who’s enemy of all things bad but a good friend to even the town’s fishmonger, Canvasback Glodgett (!).

“Storytelling” run amok.