Eben Holden Finds No Joy in New York’s North County

In New York’s bitterly cold, bleak North Country where calamity lies behind every cloud, people need enormous reservoirs of strength and courage just to survive.

Though only a hired farm hand and no relation, Eben Holden carries 6-year-old Willie in a basket on his back from Vermont to New York, where “Uncle Eb” finds work on the Brower farm after the boy’s parents drown.

Elizabeth and David Brower grow to regard Willie as their lost son. To Hope Brower he’s closer than a brother.

Willie grows up, goes to college. Hope grows up, becomes a professional singer.  Uncle Eb is always around to help with practical advice and carefully saved cash. He brings Willie and Hope together, restores their long-lost “son” to the Browers.

Although the plot line sounds romantic,  Eben Holden: A Tale of the North Country is not. There’s no romantic sentimentality in Irving Bacheller’s  plot or his people.

Willie endures the North Country, but doesn’t enjoy it.  By contrast, Almanzo Wilder in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s story of the North County, Farmer Boy, bubbles with zest for pitting himself against nature’s challenges.

Eben Holden is heroic because he does what needs to be done, even when life is hard.

Eben Holden: A Tale of the North Country
by Irving Bacheller
Lothrop, 1900
My grade: B
Project Glutenberg e-book 2799
©2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni
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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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