Marie Blythe

Written by Howard Frank Mosher
Review by L.K. Mason

Originally published in 1983, Marie Blythe is a captivating tale of the titular character’s life experiences, a modern Bildungsroman. Marie is a French Canadian child who immigrates to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (to the unfortunately named Hell’s Gate) in 1899. Orphaned soon after she arrives, Marie must find her own way in the world; as she does, she joins a gypsy family, finds and then loses love, suffers a miscarriage, cooks for various work camps, survives a tuberculosis epidemic, then becomes a nurse, and finds herself once again in Hell’s Gate, shortly after the end of the Great War. There, she learns to read, goes to school, and settles down as a teacher. But there is more danger in store for her as she confronts past enemies and loves. Though the storyline may sound a bit sensational, the telling of it is anything but. Mosher has created a truly sympathetic character in Marie; stubborn, determined, and spirited, she is deftly portrayed. Mosher’s descriptions of Hell’s Gate are evocative and lushly detailed as well, bringing the village to life once more. This was a pleasure to read, and I was sad to finish it. Recommended.