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Fair Harbor

May 6, 2015

Jenn left me a comment about Joseph Crosby Lincoln the other day, and I suddenly found myself thinking about him, and wanting to read one of his books. The last couple of times that’s happened, I’ve just reread Galusha the Magnificent, but this time I went for something new: Fair Harbor. And it’s a good one — it’s got most of the things I like about Lincoln and none of the things I don’t. I mean. Maybe some of the things. None are coming to mind at the moment. Really the only thing that’s missing is a competent spinster.

The main character is Captain Sears Kendrick, who is living with his overworked sister and her useless husband while he recovers from two very broken legs and some financial setbacks. When it turns out the Judah Cahoon, Kendrick’s cook on many voyages, is the caretaker of a mansion nearby, Kendrick moves in with him to get away from the gossiping townspeople and make his sister’s life easier.

The General Minot place, where Kendrick ends up living, is also next door to Fair Harbor, a “retreat” for “mariners’ women.” Proximity alone might involve him with the women there — especially Elizabeth Berry, daughter of the nominal manager, who really does most of the managing herself. But proximity doesn’t have time to do much before Judge Knowles gets involved. The Judge is a sort of trustee for Fair Harbor in the absence of its owner and founder, Lobelia Phillips. Lobelia is in Europe with her spendthrift adventurer husband, but she’s dying, and Judge Knowles is dying, and Egbert Phillips doesn’t know that she and the Judge have arranged for her endowment to Fair Harbor to become permanent on her death. He wants someone to be on hand when Egbert inevitably shows up to try to get more money than he has a right to out of the estate, and he’s decided that that person should be Kendrick.

And basically that’s what happens. Knowles dies. Lobelia dies. Egbert shows up, and wreaks as much havoc as he can, rumors being his main weapon. Kendrick weathers the storm, and sadly doesn’t destroy Egbert anything like as thoroughly as I wanted him to. The people who fall in love seem to actually enjoy each other’s company. No one important is ever in any real danger. This is a safe book, in the nicest possible way.

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