A New Book By the Master From Maine

OUR CROZE NEST

by John Gould

Blackberry Books

Nobleboro, Maine,

212 pp., $13.95

Pull up a comfy chair and sit next to me by the fire. This is the invitation that comes with most of John Gould's some 30 books. "Our Croze Nest," his newest, a novel, is happily no different, except that Gould threads a coming-of-age love story through the pages.

The book completes a loose trilogy of stories about a boy who summers at Morning River Farm on the coast of Maine. The narrator remembers many days deliciously veined with characters who cared about him, even if they were slow, or crafty, or full of fun.

Together with a young girl, Han, the boy's adventures are wholly innocent at first, then serious as the summers march on. Finally, after a tryst, the boy is ensnared in an unlikely triangle. All this is told in short bursts that are part essay, about the history of place and things, and part episode.

In this remembering voice, Gould also roams over his Maine landscape as the ace synthesizer of the wonderful rhythms, inflections, facts, and foibles pulled out from the culture he has known and loved most of his life.

Gould is the genuine fireside tale-spinner. The quick, innocent, gentle story is the thing for Gould, not character development or delving into troubled people doing treachery to other troubled people.

Ultimately, this is a poignant love story. It's a story that stretches credulity, but one that delivers what Gould fans have come to love: a writer who knows and shares Maine with a finely tuned homespun warmth.

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