Monday, March 4, 2013

Bluebird of Brockport: A Novel of the Erie Canal


Donna Winters, Bigwater Publishing

 In this historical romance set in 1830, eighteen-year-old Lucina Willcox has dreamed for years about canalling on the Erie Canal. Her dreams come true when her family leaves its farm near the village of Brockport, NY, and devotes itself to transporting freight on the canal. Better yet, the family surprises her by giving their boat the name of her choice, Bluebird of Brockport. And the boat itself is, in her words, “bluebird-tweetin’ blue.” For blue is her favorite color to the point of obsession, so for special occasions she always wears a bluebird-tweetin’ blue dress. In contrast, her childhood friend Ezra Lockwood always wears a red shirt and plans for his canal boat, if he ever finishes building it, to be red.
      Lucina and Ezra’s friendship has grown into love, though neither has yet made a declaration of it. Ezra feels that he can’t approach her until he is established with his own boat. But mainly there is a social gap between their families. Ezra’s family is well-educated, and his father manages a local school, while Lucina’s father believes his own minimal literacy is the only book-learning his family needs. So one of Lucina’s problems is finding a way to learn how to read and write.
      The Willcox family’s first freighting venture is fraught with difficulties. Her brother is bitten by a rattlesnake as he drives the boat’s mules along the canal’s towpath. The family is forced to join others in desperate repair of a break in the berm that threatens to drain the canal. And river pirates also bedevil them in several encounters.
      Nor is Ezra without difficulties. Not only must he find a way to get his boat built, but someone—or some group—has a grudge against him and his family, evidenced by a set fire at his father’s school and attempts to steal Ezra’s boat-building materials.
      Difficulties for both families increase until the action of the novel arrives at a suitable climax.
      However, there is more to the novel than the plot. Donna Winters’ thorough research gives the novel authenticity throughout. She provides detailed descriptions of freight boating on the canal, of course. But without interrupting the novel’s narrative flow she reveals the early nineteenth-century methods of schooling, describes speech recitals that show what the educated public was reading, and portrays the games played at social gatherings.
      The combination of likeable characters, well-paced narrative, and accurate description add up to (if I may borrow Lucina’s expression) a bluebird-tweetin’ good read.

Donna Winters Bio

Donna Winters Bio
Donna adopted Michigan as her home state in 1971 when she moved from a small town outside of Rochester, New York. She began penning novels in 1982 while working full time for an electronics firm in Grand Rapids.
She resigned from her job in 1984 following a contract offer for her first book. Since then, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan Publishing House, Guideposts, and Bigwater Publishing have published her novels. Her husband, Fred, a former American History teacher, shares her enthusiasm for history. Together, they visit historical sites, restored villages, museums, and lake ports, purchasing books and reference materials for use in Donna’s research.
Donna has written fifteen historical romances for her Great Lakes Romances® series. Recently, she turned her attention to her hometown on the Erie Canal and produced an historical novel, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, which released as a paperback in June 2012, and has now been offered in Kindle format.

Connect with Donna Winters at her blog where her links are located:

Review by Donn Taylor, author of Deadly Additive, The Lazarus File, etc.

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  1. Another good review! I'll have to add this one to my list!

  2. Donn,

    Thanks a million for your "bluebird-tweein' good" review! I'm honored!

    Donna Winters

  3. This is one bluebird-tweetin' great review. Perhaps that's where the 'tweet' originated? Nicely done, Donn and Donna!