Maine is a small state, but it amazes me how many people worldwide connect with us.

My wife Linda and I were walking the streets of a hill town in Italy one time, and met a man from Portland who now lived there. Encounters like that seem to happen to us a lot. Many of the folks we meet are tourists who love visiting our state, and as travel writers, we enjoyed helping them plan their trips to Maine.

I want to tell you about one of these tourists, who we met a few years ago in Bath.

This story starts when I requested a novel from Maine Authors Publishing, “Daughters of Long Reach — Maine tides bring a family home,” by Irene Drago.

I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to review books published here in Maine. We have lots of great writers. If you’d like to read my reviews, you will find them in the book review section at www.georgesmithmaine.com. And if you have a favorite new book, let me know.

When the book arrived, I was astonished to find a letter from the author telling me that I was “part of the story.”

In 2013, when Linda and I were enjoying a travel column visit to Elizabeth Knowlton’s wonderful Inn at Bath, we met a couple from Chicago who was visiting Maine with their son and his girlfriend.

The lady was a teacher, and she and Linda, also a teacher, enjoyed a long visit — partly because a blizzard was underway outside. The lady remembered sitting at the “dining room table long after we consumed the last piece of bacon” at breakfast, enjoying our conversation.

We had no idea that later the couple looked at five historic homes in Bath, falling in love with the last one, and purchasing it a few months later. They traveled for four years from Chicago to Bath, and last June retired and moved to Maine.

Perhaps you have guessed that the lady was Irene Drago. And boy, has she become enthusiastic about Maine. Irene even received a Spirit of Bath Award for her blog, Bath Time Society. And she and Knowlton are planning a “Welcome to Bath” event for Main Street Bath, an event Linda and I hope to attend.

Irene told me that during the four years they traveled from Chicago to Bath she “researched the history of our Federal-style home and the sea captains who used to live here. The stories I found were worth telling, and that’s why I had to write a book.”

Irene’s book includes two storylines, one that takes place in the 1800s just before the Civil War, and one that transpires today. There’s lots of history, especially of shipbuilding and sailing the world, and the storylines are very compelling. Irene told me that “Daughters of Long Reach” “is historical fiction with a contemporary romantic twist. Ellie and Ty Malone buy an antique colonial in Bath, and soon discover that a prominent shipbuilding family once lived there. That discovery sets off two storylines, one in the present and one in the past. The twist comes when the two lines intersect.”

“My father was a Pearl Harbor survivor,” she told me, “and served in the Navy for 40 years, which is unheard of today. Truth be told, my family’s history inspired the present-day fiction.” As did Bath, her historic house, and the history of shipbuilding in Maine.

I actually read the novel in one day, unable to stop reading. Irene writes great dialogue, which is something I always admire, because it is not easy to do. For years I labored trying to write a book of fiction, without luck. It’s hard.

So I especially admire our Maine writers of great novels, including my friends Paul Doiron and Gerry Boyle. And now, I’ve added Irene Drago to that list.

At the end of her letter to me, Irene wrote, “That weekend at the Inn was meant to be. I’ve called it magical more than once, and you helped make that magic! Thank you! I’m glad our paths have crossed again.”

Me too, Irene. Me too.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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