Sunday, May 29, 2016

Compelling and touching--MARGARET FROM MAINE by Joseph Monninger--a romance shaped by war--with characters for whom you root for to find a happy ending

Margaret from Maine: A Novel
Brought together by war, separated by duty, a love story for the ages

Margaret Kennedy lives on a dairy farm in rural Maine. Her husband Thomas—injured in a war overseas—will never be the man he was. When the President signs a bill in support of wounded veterans, Margaret is invited to the nation’s capital. Charlie King, a handsome Foreign Service officer, volunteers to escort her. As the rhododendron blossoms along the Blue Ridge Highway, the unlikely pair fall in love—but Margaret cannot ignore the tug of her marriage vows.
Joseph Monninger’s Margaret from Maine is a page-turning romance that poignantly explores the dilemmas faced by those who serve our country—and the men and women who love them.

MY REVIEW:  As I began to read "Margaret from Maine", by author Joseph Monninger, the fluidity of the story line and the immediacy of the characters quickly drew me in. Before I knew it, I had finished the book, but I didn't feel finished with the characters--I wanted to read more. I wanted to know what the future held for these people whose loneliness led them to each other. Margaret Kennedy's husband, Tom, was considered a war hero. His personal sacrifice to save a comrade had left him in a vegetative state. His body lived, but the spirit of the man had long ago left his physical shell. We meet Tom in the first chapter of the book, and experience the horrible moment which changed the lives of all the Kennedys forever. Tom never got to know his young son, Gordon, and Margaret took over the running of their dairy farm with the assistance of Tom's father, Ben. Six years after Tom was wounded, Margaret receives an invitation to attend the Washington, DC signing of a bill to improve care for comatose veterans. Margaret would be escorted to DC by Charlie King, a member of the diplomatic core with whom she had conversed by phone. Charlie is himself a veteran, assigned to desk duty after losing part of one leg due to a battle wound. When Charlie and Margaret meet, there is an immediate and intense attraction of both body and soul. The trip to DC becomes an extended romantic interlude, one that is unexpected and irresistible despite the undercurrent of conflict. Margaret never expected to be with any man other than her husband, but Charlie is warm and courtly, and his attention to her is like sustenance for her too-long-deprived female sensibilities. Charlie is smitten, and he knows it. Margaret is the woman he has waited for his entire life, but how to make her see it? Two good people, who have lived dutiful lives, now have a chance for true love and happiness, or do they? Charlie is about to leave the States for a diplomatic post in Africa. Margaret has the huge responsibility of caring for her family and overseeing the running of the dairy farm. She's still married to a man who has been spiritually dead for six years, and as long as his body still breathes in the care facility, she is bound to him as his wife. Will the love between Charlie and Margaret be lost, or will their fates somehow become intertwined? Joseph Monninger has created a compelling and touching romance with characters for whom you root for to find a happy ending. Happiness comes and goes sometimes in unexpected, random surges, but we must all be prepared to grab that happiness and hold on when it finally comes our way.
Book Copy Gratis Library Thing


Joseph Monninger

Joseph Monninger has published eleven novels and three non-fiction books. His work has appeared in American Heritage, Scientific American, Readers Digest, Glamour, Playboy, Story, Fiction, The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated and Ellery Queen, among other publications. He has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and has also received a fellowship from the New Hampshire Council for the Arts. His young adult novel, Baby, was awarded the 2008 award for best children’s literature from the Peace Corps Writers. It was also chosen as a top ten book by YALSA, the American Library Association. The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books awarded Hippie Chick, a young adult novel, a blue ribbon for a top book of 2008.

Joseph Monninger grew up in Westfield, New Jersey and attended Temple University on a football scholarship. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso, from 1975-77. He has been a licensed New Hampshire Fishing Guide and has fly-fished from New Zealand to Wyoming’s Wind River Range. He lives with his wife, Wendy, and his son, Justin, in a converted barn near New Hampshire’s Baker River. For several years his family competed in the New England Sled Dog sprint races and ran a small sled dog business in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Laika and Willow, two sled dogs, live in happy retirement with them.
As a teacher at one time or another at the University of New Hampshire, the Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, The American International School in Vienna, and at Plymouth State University, Joseph Monninger has spent thirty years in classrooms. During the summers he directed academic enrichment programs at Williams and Amherst Colleges. He led student groups on bicycle tours across Europe, sailed the Whitsunday Islands near the Great Barrier Reef, and worked on community service projects in Montserrat, West Indies and on the Crow Reservation in Montana. He has taken a mail boat across the southern edge of Newfoundland and, as a young man, hitch-hiked across the United States three times.

His novel, Eternal on the Water, was published by Pocketbooks in February 2010.

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