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The Greatest Man in Cedar Holeby Stephanie Doyon
Synopses & Reviews
For generations, Cedar Hole has been the armpit of Gilford County, a town full of apathetic underachievers trapped by a defunct railroad, distrust of the outside world, and their own lack of imagination. It has also been the home of the Pinkhams, a family whose gluttonous reputation stirs up fear and loathing even among the town's most indifferent citizens. Enter Francis "Spud" Pinkham, the youngest of the clan and favorite whipping boy of his nine brutish sisters. Almost from the moment of his unwelcome arrival into the world Francis knows his path in life will be as bumpy as Cedar Hole's unkempt roads.
On the other end of the spectrum is Robert J. Cutler, the bright only child of two factory workers and town golden boy, who gracefully steps into the role of Cedar Hole's good-hearted visionary. Robert's blind optimism and unshakable faith dazzles everyone around him — except Francis. When a town competition forces a rivalry between the boys that follows them into adulthood, Francis must struggle to emerge from Robert's shadow. It is only through love, starting a family of his own, and a brush with the American dream that Francis Pinkham learns just what it takes to become the greatest man in Cedar Hole.
"Doyon, the author of series books for teens, peoples her adult debut, a sprawling, bustling chronicle of smalltown life, with a passel of intriguing characters, first among them the sad-sack town itself. Schoolmarm Delia Pratt calls her charges 'Cedar Hellions' and bums cigs from the older girls at lunch; the nine Pinkham tomboys are depraved viragos who bully their young brother, Francis. Valiantly keeping up standards at the ramshackle library is Kitty Higgens, who receives a godsend in the form of an assistant, Robert J. Cutler. This model youth and citizen — the anomalous paragon of the title — wins a pivotal contest called the Lawn Rodeo by forming a star pattern instead of the required straight line mowed by rightful winner Francis. Years later, Robert — who remained loyal to Cedar Hole despite opportunities elsewhere — dies in a freak accident, leaving his wife embittered by his obsession with town matters at the expense of family, and Francis with an open field to venture into something extraordinary. Doyon writes pungently, with a wry slant, and pulls no punches regarding gossip, jealousy, schadenfreude and the myriad human foibles that are the backbone of farce, so the warm feeling when we close the book — with virtue rewarded and fences mended — feels earned. Agent, Simon Lipskar. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Ms. Doyon's book spans decades and takes some powerful, serious turns....[S]he develops an array of acts and consequences, linking them in ways that give the book some weight....[E]nveloping enough to prompt regret when it ends..." New York Times
"Doyon hits upon Americana with skillful insight....The story unspools with a sureness rare in a first novel." Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cedar Hole is the armpit of fictional Gilford County, a town full of apathetic underachievers trapped by a defunct railroad, distrust of the outside world, and their own lack of imagination. During the annual Train Festival, the citizens are called to declare the "greatest man" in town, and a fierce rivalry ensues.
About the Author
Stephanie Dovon has worked as ghostwriter for several popular teen series. Her own young adult series, On the Road, was published by Simon Pulse in 1999. The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole is her first adult novel. She currently lives in Maine.
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