Although I’ve been a stranger to RLR for almost a year now, I’ve remained a devoted fan of Paul’s wonderful library. Each old novel I finish takes me to the next, and as sorry as I am for one to come to an end, I am equally as excited to begin another.
Within the last year, I made a discovery that turned out to be quite a precious treasure . A good friend gave us a box of old books from her Dad’s basement. I didn’t expect to find the book that would lead me on the most cherished literary adventure of my life.
An old copy of a novel by an unknown author caught my eye. The Harvester, by Gene Stratton Porter, sounded like a farm novel to me, so I opened it and read a few paragraphs. That was all it took. Two paragraphs turned into two pages. We were busy with outdoor spring chores, so I forced myself to put it back into the box, and told myself I’d try to remember it for road trip reading.
After devouring nine of her books, researching her life, and sharing my new-found love of this woman with anyone who will listen, I can say with certainty that I have discovered my all-time favorite novelist. As I read the first gem, The Harvester, I realized that there was so much more to this book than just a good story told with eloquence. Being a passionate nature lover, I found that her obvious knowledge of flora and fauna were inspiring. The main character is a “medicine man” of the woods where he lives, carefully procuring medicinal herbs, flowers, and plants, to sell to physicians in the surrounding towns. The factual information regarding how so many of these “natural healing” remedies were used in those times is fascinating to me. The vivid descriptions Stratton Porter uses of hundreds of beautiful flowers, and the details in the planting, grafting, harvesting and production of the actual drugs is amazing. With a heart-warming love story underlying, The Harvester soon became one of my top reads.
Paul decided to do some research into this Indiana author for me, and to date, he has managed to find every one of her books! Unfortunately, her life was cut short by a tragic auto accident, preventing her from writing more than the twelve novels that we’ve been lucky enough to collect. She was, in fact, killed in Los Angeles, where she was in the process of producing two films based on two of her novels. We have managed to procure the films as well, thanks to the wonderful technology of the internet!
I want to share my love of this beautiful author, not only her writings, but also her expertise as a naturalist, having lived all of her short life in an area of Northern Indiana known as “The Limberlost Swamp.” For all of you nature lovers out there, these novels are priceless.