By Angie Georgeff
Most of the time I highlight novels of one genre or another because the majority of our patrons prefer fiction, but nonfiction also has its partisans. I just happen to be one of them, with a healthy appetite for history and biographies. One of the books in our most recent shipment caught my eye because it combines history with biography, local interest and the accolades that accompany inclusion on the bestseller lists.
With “The Last Castle,” Denise Kiernan, who previously climbed the charts with “The Girls of Atomic City,” shifts her focus east from Oak Ridge to Asheville. Unicoi County’s proximity to Asheville means that many of us have been introduced to Biltmore House, the largest and most sumptuous residence ever built in the United States. But are we as familiar with the house’s story as we are with its iconic façade?
George Washington Vanderbilt aimed to carve a European-style estate out of the wilderness of western North Carolina, and he spared no expense to hire the architects and craftsmen who could make his dream a reality. I’ve heard it said that George “Biltmore” of a house than he could afford to maintain. That did ultimately prove true, but George’s wife Edith Stuyvesant Dresser refused to let his legacy be lost.
In 1876, Unicoi County’s new county seat was christened Vanderbilt in hopes of attracting the interest and investment of G. W. Vanderbilt. The ploy didn’t work and so the name didn’t last. When George chose the Asheville area for his sprawling estate in 1879, the name of the town was changed to Ervin and the name of the post office to Erwin. Of course, there is still a Vanderbilt in Tennessee, but most University of Tennessee fans are just not that impressed.
And speaking of orange … our weekly story time will focus on pumpkins today and on Halloween next Wednesday, so bring the kids to the library at 10:30 a.m. for stories, crafts and activities suited to the season. Reading buddies meet at 3:30 p.m. each Wednesday afternoon. The teen Halloween party is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 27, and the children’s party for Tuesday, Oct. 31, from 4-6 p.m. Please call the library at 743-6533 for more information about any library program.
Our Halloween Film Festival for adults will continue this week with another movie inspired by literature.
If you want to try to guess which film we’ll be watching, the author whose stories suggested it is Guy de Maupassant. Join us at 6 p.m. for popcorn, candy and a movie, and feel free to bring a bottle of water or your favorite soft drink.