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Library Happenings – New novel leads to historical review

By Angie Georgeff

In addition to all of my administrative duties, I catalog a lot of books during the course of a month. I simply don’t have the time to familiarize myself with each one as it crosses my desk, but today one did catch my eye. On the back cover of Christian author Ann H. Gabhart’s new novel “River to Redemption,” I spied a brief reference to the cholera epidemic of 1833.

When I was conducting genealogical research on my Skelton forebears, I read that some of them died during a cholera epidemic in Hawkins County in 1830. A brief article in a Knoxville newspaper still survives, reporting the deaths by an unspecified illness. When I dug deeper into the matter, however, I discovered that the cause was undoubtedly one of the many malarial fevers that were common in the riverside settlements of Northeast Tennessee at that time.

The outbreak was newsworthy, but it wasn’t cholera. Somebody in the present day had jumped to a conclusion without considering all of the facts. Still, I can’t complain, since I learned more by investigating that mistake than I would have gathered from correct information. The cholera pandemic was raging in Asia and Russia during 1830, but it didn’t reach the United States until 1832. By 1833, the disease had made its way into Kentucky and Tennessee.

Adria Starr, the main character of Gabhart’s novel, was orphaned by the pandemic at the age of seven. A slave named Louis, who had given up his opportunity to escape bondage in order to tend the sick and the dead, found her and took her to Aunt Ruth, a newly widowed schoolteacher. Twelve years later, Louis’s owners have decided to sell him, and Adria is determined to purchase his freedom.

Spotlight Book

In the 16th century, Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, author of “The Prince,” opined “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

Machiavelli is often quoted, but was he right? Lisa Scottoline’s new thriller “Feared” reiterates the question “Is it better to be loved or feared?” Attorney Nick Machiavelli is suing the Rosato and DiNunzio law firm on behalf of three individuals who claim they were not hired because they are men. As if on cue, the firm’s one male employee decides to resign, suggesting that the reverse sex discrimination suit has some merit.

Machiavelli previously lost a case to Mary Rosato and he seems bent on revenge. In his mind, that means the annihilation of his opponent and all that she and Bennie have built. True to his Renaissance namesake, Nick Machiavelli will let nothing stand in his way: “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.” Can Mary and Bennie’s firm withstand such a relentless and venomous attack?