The Cinder Pond by Carroll Watson Rankin
This 1915 novel by Carroll Watson Rankin is quite a different tale than Dandelion Cottage also by this author and previously reviewed here. Dandelion Cottage was a delightful tale of four young friends growing up in favorable circumstances; Jeannette Huntington Duval’s story is quite different. All the “action” in Dandelion Cottage happens in one place, the girls’ home town; in The Cinder Pond, Jeanne does not have such a gentle life and has to deal with new places and people.
Jeanne’s mother died when she was very young and her father remarried the kindly but overwhelmed Molly. Her father, once a gentleman but now struggling to support his large family as a fisherman, builds a house on an abandoned formerly industrial section of wharf on Lake Superior-next to the Cinder Pond. (Yes, it doesn’t sound too healthy!)
Jeanne is clearly her father’s favorite: she is the child of his first wife, a lady, and he exerts a lot of energy and time educating her. Eventually he sends her away to live with her mother’s well-to-do family. She slowly builds a relationship with her Grandfather but never with her Aunt and Uncle or her cousins. After living away from her family for several years, Jeanne begs her Grandfather to let her visit home and knowing that he is nearing death and aware of how the rest of the family feels about Jeanne, he consents. Jeanne is thrilled but finds things not as she expected when she returns to Cinder Pond.
When reading this story, I couldn’t help but be struck by similarities with Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna and other young adult (girls) fiction of this period but there was an important difference: I feel that this book makes a serious attempt to explore class prejudice.
Read by the wonderful reader for young adult books, Betsy Bush, you can download this free audio-book here or read this free e-book on-line or in pdf download here. (BTW, this on-line reader does allow page flipping.
I thought I would share the lovely sketches/illustrations by Ada C. Williamson that accompany the text for all you audio-book listeners.
Here's a view of Cinder Pond Marina as it looks today in Marquette, Michigan. I have to say that I think Marquette is a must visit if I ever get back to Michigan. It would really be fun to see Dandelion House and the Cinder Pond Marina.