Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Little City of Hope  -  1907
F. Marion Crawford
214 pages
genre  -  General Fiction, Christmas
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

John Henry Overholt is an inventor. His first invention was considered very successful, and John Henry is now working an a new idea, an 'air-motor'.

Quite a bit a money has already been invested, with the 'air-motor' no where near completion. John Henry is running out of money, time and hope.

John Henry and their 13-year-old son, Newton, are staying in a run-down house in Connecticut while he works on this new invention. And on the theory that two can live cheaper than three, Mrs. Overholt has taken a job as a governess and is with that family in Germany.

I love the names of the nine chapters:

I.   How John Henry Overholt Sat on Pandora's Box
II.  How a Man and a Boy Founded the Little City of Hope
III.  How They Made Bricks Without Straw
IV.  How There Was a Famine in the City
V.  How the City Was Besieged and the Lid of Pandora's Box Came Off
VI.  How a Small Boy Did a Big Thing and Nailed Down the Lid of the Box
VII.  How a Little Woman Did a great Deed to Save the City
VIII.  How the Wheels Went Round at Last
IX.  How the King of Hearts Made a Feast in the City of Hope

The title of the story refers to a model of the town that Newton is building. "It was entirely made of bits of cardboard, chips of wood, the sides of match-boxes, and odds and ends of all sorts..." Or maybe the title could signify the Overholt family and their little circle of support and love. A wonderful story full of perseverance and sacrifice.

About the Author  -

Francis Marion Crawford was born on August 2, 1854, in Bagni di Lucca, Italy, the only son of the American sculptor Thomas Crawford and Louisa Cutler Ward. He studied successively at St Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire; Cambridge University; University of Heidelberg; and the University of Rome.

In 1879 he went to India, where he studied Sanskrit and edited in Allahabad The Indian Herald. Returning to America in February 1881, he continued to study Sanskrit at Harvard University for a year and for two years contributed to various periodicals, mainly The Critic.

In December 1882 he produced his first novel, Mr. Isaacs, a brilliant sketch of modern Anglo-Indian life mingled with a touch of Oriental mystery. This book had an immediate success, and its author's promise was confirmed by the publication of Dr. Claudius (1883).

In May 1883 he returned to Italy, where he made his permanent home.  In October 1884 he married Elizabeth Berdan, the daughter of the American Civil War Union Gen. Hiram Berdan. They had two sons and two daughters.

Crawford died on April 9, 1909 at home in Sant' Agnello, Italy of a heart attack.

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