A PIECE OF THE WORLD ” CHRISTINA’S WORLD ” A MUST READ NOVEL

Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train, has eclipsed that acclaimed novel with her latest, A Piece of the World.   This marvelous work of historical fiction is a priority read adding illuminating context to the story behind America’s most famous painting , Andrew Wyeth’s  Christina’s World.

I have been to the Olsen House  in Cushing on that spit of land on the Maine Coast. However, now that I have read  A Piece of the World, I will eagerly travel there again with a new perspective having met through this wonderful novel, Christina, the woman who Andrew Wyeth immortalized in his painting Christina’s World.

Once you read A Piece of the World you will be drawn into Wyeth’s painting as never before.  When  you visit the farmhouse in Maine the humanity that was once there will become very much among the living.

Also, visit the Wyeth family collection at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland.

 

 

 

ORPHAN TRAIN-FORGOTTEN CHILDREN-NOW ALIVE!

Between 1854 and 1929 orphaned and homeless children cast out from the teeming tenements to the harsh streets of New York City were collected and boarded on special railroad trains headed  for the  farmlands of the American West. The hope of the organizers was finding families to offer these nine to 13 year olds a home and new beginning.

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NOTICE OF ARRIVING TRAIN !

HOMES WANTED FOR CHILDREN.  A COMPANY OF ORPHAN CHILDREN OF DIFFERENT AGES WILL ARRIVE AT OAKLAND, IOWA, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1904. THE DISTRIBUTION WILL TAKE PLACE AT 10:30 AM AND 1:30 PM.

Over a period of sixty years a quarter million indigent immigrant children were sent West. From station to station in small towns west of Chicago they were  paraded by poorly equipped social workers before prospective foster parents, many of whose motives were less than noble.  Few if any background checks of the perspective families were completed. Children were selected at each stop and those that were not chosen moved on to the next whistle-stop somewhere down the line. There was little or no follow-up and many of these children became little more than un-paid household labor and farm help, often in dysfunctional families.  Many were not given the opportunity to attend school.

” THE CHILD YOU SELECT IS YOURS FOR FREE, ON A 90 DAY TRIAL, AT WHICH POINT IF YOU SO CHOOSE, YOU MAY SEND HIM  BACK.”

Christina Baker Kline in her riveting New York Times best selling  novel Orphan Train (2013)  weaves a story of  how the toxic ingredients of the Orphan Trains, conceived to rescue children from the depravity of New York’s streets, often cast them into  even worse circumstances. Orphan Train is the story of  one train rider, a  9 year-old girl, who finally in her 90s  comes to reveal her secret story to yet another rider from a turbulent world of another era.

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NOBODY WANTS ME. I HAVE TO GET BACK ON THE TRAIN.”  “ALL RIGHT CHILDREN THE JOURNEY CONTINUES, THE GOOD PEOPLE OF ALBANS, MINNESOTA ARE WAITING.”

The story is powerful and Orphan Train is a rewarding read, both historically and emotionally.  Christina Baker, in remarkable fashion, creates a protagonist who vividly portrays this little known chapter in American history.

Earlier this year I referred you to Jacob Riis’s  How The Other Half Lives  gordonsgoodreads.com.  Riss was among the first Muckrakers , uncovering social injustice in America. It is in his How The Other Half Lives that I first learned the history of the Orphan Trains.

Orphan Train is a novel so well researched that it could be categorized a historical novel. Kline was able to interview four actual train riders when they were in their late 90s.    Other works of fiction by Christina Baker Kline  are Sweet Water, Desire Lines, The way Life Should Be and Bird in Hand.