Appledore Books Newsletter
February 2008
Author of This Desired Place
Guest at Book Club Discussion

The First Tuesday Book Club invited Julia Older to their February 5 gathering for a discussion of her award-winning novel This Desired Place; The Isles of Shoals, second novel of her Isles of Shoals Trilogy. The group gathers monthly in the Hancock NH Town Library.

The lively, deeply researched historical novel is set on the fabled Isles of Shoals off the Maine and New Hampshire coastlines. This is the saga of fishing folk settlers, pirates and Puritans during the 17th century when young, raucous America was coming of age.

The book club members, very interested in history, turned their curiosity into questions for the author:

  • One reader asked if it was difficult to mix fictional and real-life characters. It wasn’t, Older answered, because Thom Taylor, the protagonist, is the only fictional character in the novel. All the other characters are real-life historical people involved in historically documented events.
  • Quakers fled England for the New World in the 1600s. Were they as against war as they are today?
  • Why weren’t women’s special knowledge about herbal medicines accepted more during the 17th century?
  • Women were accused as “witches” and thrown into prison so that husbands and selectmen could take their property. One reader warned, “We’d better watch out for town meeting!”
  • Readers asked Older about the great amount of time that researching primary historical sources takes; whether the Indian massacre in Dover was as difficult to write as to read; why Thom and Pru didn’t have more time together.
  • Others wanted to know whether 17th century Mary Babb died of so many child births or just plain exhaustion; why Thom was more educated than the people he dealt with; whether the research Older did for The Island Queen about 19th century Shoals writer Celia Thaxter led to This Desired Place.
  • One book club member lamented that she overlooked the glossary at the back of the book — and when is the third book of the Isles of Shoals Trilogy coming out!

Julia Older’s next visit to a reading group is scheduled for March 5 when she discusses This Desired Place with the Book & Breakfast Club at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH. Everyone is invited to attend. For further information, please get in touch with coordinator Michele Wensman at 603 436-8043.

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