Two of the books I read this past month have the word “English” in their titles. English was also important within the stories.
In English Creek by Ivan Doig (Scribner 2005), it’s all about a whole forestry division in northeastern Montana during the 1930s. Fourteen-year-old Jick McCaskill’s father was a Forest Ranger responsible for this part of the state. Nick accompanies his father on the first trek of the summer to inspect as much of the territory as possible.
As young Jick learns, the job includes more than just watching over the trees. They count sheep and cattle in this high country, note the depth of the rivers, and touch base with the various people who inhabit the high country. Before the summer is over Jick will see and do things he’s never experienced before, including helping to feed fire-fighters battling a dangerous forest fire.
This was an excellent and satisfying story. Althouh the narrator is only fourteen, it’s not a young-adult book. It’s written for adults. It has that innocent feel to it that often comes with stories of the 1930s. Life has come down to bare bones as far as material goods are concerned, but rich in all the other things that make life enjoyable. This is the first book in a trilogy centered around the McCaskill family. I’m looking forward to Book 2: Dancing At the Rascal Fair.
English in this next book refers to The English Girl by Daniel Silva (Harper 2013). On Corsica someone has kidnapped an English girl and is holding her for a huge ransom. Why is she so valuable? It turns out she is the mistress of the prime minister of England. If he doesn’t pay the ransom, it could mean the end of his career and possibly his government.
The man in charge of the Intelligence Services calls upon an old friend within the Israeli Mossad, Gabriel Allon. He trusts Gabriel’s skills, intelligence and discretion to find and get the young woman back.
Gabriel begins his search in Corsica, where he meets an old-world don and begins to realize that this is more than a simple kidnapping. His search will take him to Frane, Russia and England. He realizes that finding out who the “girl” really is becomes as important as finding her.
Gabriel Allon is a great main character. He’s a master spy with great detective skills as well as a man who restores damaged art. I had no idea he is the star of a whole series of books. This one turned out to be number 13. I didn’t feel as if I had missed any content by starting so late into the series. The book certainly was able to stand on its own. I’ll definitely read more.
I highly recommend both of these books.