Cordelia Underwood: Or, The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League

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9780140280104: Cordelia Underwood: Or, The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League

In the idyllic summer of 1896 in Portland, Maine, several people are embarking on adventures of a most audacious and entertaining nature. The lovely Cordelia Underwood unexpectedly inherits a large parcel of land, and discovers that it holds an irresistible secret; it is her newfound friend, Tobias Walton--a man of a certain age and Pickwickian characteristics--who will eventually help her to unravel the mystery. In parallel journeys up the coast of Maine, Cordelia collects a handsome suitor and several opinionated relatives, and Mister Walton is soon accompanied by an entourage of hapless friends--the honorable members of the Moosepath League. Together this motley group encounters a colorful variety of true Maine eccentrics--from old salts to bootleggers, grande dames to prospective beaus--and find themselves embroiled in some good old-fashioned wonderment and laughter that includes a boxing match between two aging politicians, an escaped circus bear named Maude, a dastardly kidnapping, and the parachutist Mrs. Roberto in her attractive suit of tights! Superbly written, with a vivid sense of place and period, this is a book for any day that begs a few hours of pure delight.

A

"--This extraordinary document puts the national landmark in the context of nothing less than the intellectual history of Western civilization -- in 200 pages." --New York NewsdayNew York Times Book Review

"--This extraordinary document puts the national landmark in the context of nothing less than the intellectual history of Western civilization -- in 200 pages." --New York Newsday Editor's Choice

A colorful, comic, and touching novel of old Maine that "seems designed for long afternoons in the hammock" (

"--This extraordinary document puts the national landmark in the context of nothing less than the intellectual history of Western civilization -- in 200 pages." --New York NewsdayThe New York Times Book Review

"--This extraordinary document puts the national landmark in the context of nothing less than the intellectual history of Western civilization -- in 200 pages." --New York Newsday)

Penguin Readers Guide Bound into Every Book (includes questions on Mollie Peer)

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Review:

Reading Van Reid's first novel, Cordelia Underwood, is a little like moving to a small town where everyone knows everybody else and has for generations. Certainly the novel boasts a cast of if not thousands, at least dozens of characters ranging from the spirited title character, Cordelia, to a bear named Maude. The story, such as it is, begins in the year 1896 and involves a mysterious inheritance--a parcel of land in the north of Maine that Cordelia's Uncle Basil has left to her. But readers will find themselves less interested in Uncle Basil's bequest than in the kaleidoscope of eccentrics who involve themselves in it. The subtitle of Reid's novel is The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League, and it is with the formation of this secret club that much of the novel concerns itself. Every character has a story to tell and each fresh tale seems to spawn another; there are balloon ascensions, phantom sailors, mysterious notes, and determined suitors; fortunately, everyone is so charming and their yarns so entertaining that you don't really mind the many, many digressions from the purported main point of the book, namely Cordelia and her inheritance. Set in the 19th century, Cordelia Underwood exhibits some of that century's literary conventions, as well--originally published in serial form in a regional newspaper, it is a sprawling tale populated with singular personalities and intended to entertain. In short, it's perfect reading for those long, lazy dog days of summer.

About the Author:

Van Reid's family has lived in Edgecomb, Maine, since the 1800s. Reid lives with his wife and children in a house Reid and his brother built on their family's land. His series of novels about the Moosepath League--of which Cordelia Underwood is the first--take place in the late 1800s on coastal Maine.

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