by Patricia Reiss Brooks
Category: Fiction / General
333 pages; ISBN: 0-9755677-0-5
Rating: 10/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Jeannine Van Eperen
Patricia Reiss Brooks
10 out of 10 stars!
Joe Devlin puts his tubercular wife, Alice, on a train from New York City to Saranac Lake in upper New York in 1925. There was no money for both of them to take the train so he starts out driving in his old car, and wearing a borrowed racoon coat. He is a mechanic and has a job waiting for him at a Lake Placid resort, near Saranac Lake. He is to keep the resort's fleet of cars in ti-top shape. Joe’s old car breaks down, and he is unable to repair it due to finances and there is no garage near. He takes off walking in the cold Adirondack Mountains. A blizzard ensues. The few people who see him decide he is a bootlegger because he wears an expensive racoon coat as do most of the rum-runners who motor up and down the roads. Joe nearly dies but is rescued by kind people, who treat his frostbitten feet and give him food. He cannot be talked out of walking the rest of the way. His wife expected him there shortly after she departed on the train, butJoe is weeks behind schedule. During his trek, Joe is helped by others, but he once is attacked by two brothers who rob him, take his warm coat and leave him to die.
Meanwhile Alice is taking the cure at Conifer Cottage in Saranac Lake run by two German women. She has interesting porch-mates who sit, bundled up, in the cold winter air with her, but she worries about her husband. Joe finally reaches the Inn in Lake Placid and starts his job repairing the lodge’s cars. He and Alice have a reunion, but it is not the kind either of them want. They are unable to kiss because of her disease. Joe cannot let his boss know that his wife is a “lunger” in Saranac Lake. Joe’s salary doesn’t begin to pay for Alice’s treatment. In order to make ends meet and pay the fees for Alice’s treatment, Joe begins to run booze during those Prohibition days. He tries to keep his illegal activities from his boss as well as Alice. It isn’t easy to balance his double life, and taking the tuberculosis cure is not easy for Alice either.
MOUNTAIN SHADOWS, a tale of love and courage, is a heartwarming story. Patricia Reiss Brooks' descriptions of the of the Prohibition era, the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains, and the hardships one caught in a snowstorm in the mountains must endure are masterful. Reiss’s book is well-researched. Joe’s and Alice’s love for each survive under the most challenging conditions. Joe must make difficult choices. He is a good-looking guy and women sometimes throw themselves at him, but he loves Alice. Sure, some of the women tempt him, but he remains true to his wife. One can understand why Joe does begin to work with bootleggers and run alcohol. Being the type of man he is, his conscious is troubled by his actions. Patricia Reiss Brooks has written an inspiring and touching story. The characters live in the reader’s mind well after finishing the book.
Jeannine Van Eperen, Reviewer
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