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Mountain Shadows: an Adirondack Novel of Courage, Danger and Love
ISBN: 0-9755677-0-5
By Patricia Reiss Brooks
Review by: Alice Garcia

06/06/05

Mountain Shadows is a novel about the love and devotion a man has for his wife. Joe Devlin, a Catholic Irishmen, is this man. He sets out from New York to meet up with his wife sent weeks earlier to “cure” in a cottage in Saranac. The young Alice Devlin was diagnosed with tuberculosis shortly after her new husband had returned from the war. Her parents make arrangements to have her sent to upstate New York with the hopes that the cold mountain air will see her healed. Not to be dissuaded from spending his life with the woman he has come to love, Joe heads out into the fierce winter to be by her side. Along the way, he encounters many hardships, and there are several times when it seems like he will not live to see his beloved again. However, the kind people of the mountains find him, always at the last minute, and help get him back on his path. He meets a couple who are generous with their care; another couple whose Canadian-French husband educates Joe on the ways of the mountain, and a father and daughter who see him through the last leg of his journey. He comes to his destination and is reunited with his wife. Yet, his adventures do not end there. Saranac Lake is on the trail used frequently by bootleggers smuggling liquor over the Canadian border. Faced with increasing medical expenses, Joe does what he must, and he begins working for a local bootlegger. Meanwhile, Alice is conserving her strength as she tries to beat the disease that will inevitably see her to an early grave.

Brooks writes with great care and understanding. Her love for this region and her knowledge of its history are quite evident in the book’s details. She creates characters that are humble, but not too simplistic. Her writing flows nicely and the book’s pace suits the progression of events. She switches back and forth between Joe and Alice’s perspective. This permits the reader to see each situation in the eyes of both of the lovers. Joe Devlin stands out as her most distinguished character. She creates in him a man of integrity and honor; making him accessible to both male and female readers.

The historical approach to the book makes it a gem for fans of historical fiction, while its charming story and quaint characters make it an enjoyable read for others. I do believe, though, that this book is best enjoyed sipping a beverage made from the very substance banned at this time. I recommend that readers tip their glasses in a toast to Joe, Alice and the others who make this book a fine read.

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