Book review: Bowlaway — by Elizabeth McCracken

(Ecco Press)
Time to enjoy a yarn embellished with characters as colorful as a vaudeville show and a plot both riotous and rollicking. Meet Bertha Truitt, whittled to one syllable, now only “Troot,” has landed, most prodigiously, in a cemetery — was she dead or alive? — appearing to have just dropped out of the sky. “She was alive. She was a bowler.” Cleaving instantly to this coastal town just north of Boston, she proceeds to build a bowling alley, candlepin, of course, this is New England after all. Open to all, she heartily encourages women to play, and war veterans, as she plays herself, creating a haven for some of the less unfortunate in town. What follows is a veritable feast of circumstance and adventure, family and fortune, ill winds and glad tidings. The cadence of the book, perfectly suited, feels like candlepin itself — the setting of the pins, the people placed in scenarios, but then life or luck or fate, like a bowling ball, comes crashing down the alley, knocking down some but leaving others standing. Elizabeth McCracken is the best sort of writer, the world she creates feels like none you have witnessed, but yet the people she creates are ones you care about, right from the very first page.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury
10 historical fiction books set in New England
Barkskins, by Annie Proulx
Fortune’s Rocks, by Anita Shreve
Ahab’s Wife, by Sena Jeter Naslund
In the Fall, by Jeffrey Lent
The Wolves of Andover, by Kathleen Kent
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Widow’s War, by Sally Gunning
Songs in Ordinary Time, by Mary McGarry Morris
Disappearances, by Howard Frank Mosher
Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks

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