When I got a call from a local author’s representative this winter, I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic. Every year I get several requests to read a particular book, and not all the stories are compelling.
“I’ll give it two chapters,” I said. “If I’m not hooked, I’m putting it down.”
“Timber,” it turns out, is a compelling read. It is the story of Sarah Stewart, betrayed and suddenly penniless, who leaves Boston to search for her father, who abandoned her mother before her birth.
Her journey takes her to Minnesota’s timber country in 1893. In order to continue her search, Sarah needs money, but the only jobs available to women are as wives or as disreputable saloon girls.
Disguised as a boy, she hires on as a cook’s helper at a lumber camp run by the handsome Swede, Thor. Although the story line seems unlikely, Sanderson makes it work.
At one point in the story I thought the book was going to turn into a predictable romance. Not so. This historical fiction gives readers a look into the colorful life of a Minnesota logging camp and the fully fleshed-out characters who make life interesting. Sarah is a likable character, gutsy and hardworking, and the plot is unpredictable.
Finally, it is the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894 that decides so many fates.
Sanderson is a retired attorney living in Eden Prairie. She will be at Turtle Town Books & Gifts in Nisswa on Saturday, July 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to sign copies of her book, available in paperback.
(Mary Miller owns Turtle Town Books & Gifts in Nisswa.)