Award-winning author Elisabeth Ogilvie may be gone now (1917-2006), but she remains one of Maine’s most beloved writers. She penned 46 books, including 11 for young readers. She may be best known for her Bennett’s Island series featuring the redoubtable Sorenson family.

Originally published in 1987, “The Summer Of The Osprey” continues the Sorenson family saga with another Bennett’s Island tale of human drama, mystery and suspense. Her stories are about people, with all their strengths and weaknesses, creating equally strong male and female characters.

Bennett’s Island is a small, insular fishing community of close-knit families and friends. When rich flatlander Felix Drake buys a house, declares himself an islander, and shows up in a fancy new lobster boat loaded with new gear, locals are not happy. Drake stashes a mysterious young woman in his house with instructions that no one is to disturb her, then lobsters for fun with his arrogance earning him no friends. In fact, there is serious talk of action to drive him away. Clearly, outsiders are not welcome on Bennett’s Island.

Nils and Joanna Sorenson, however, are cooler heads favoring patience, but son Jamie and others are hot-tempered and hard to control. As resentment simmers, folks wonder about the hidden woman and Drake’s motives for being there; about two forceful brothers who suddenly show up asking questions; a luxury yacht with a strange captain and cargo; and about some people who seem to have a lot more money than they should.

Add a stabbing, hurricane, romance, love, lies, truths and several surprising revelations about people, and Joanna Sorenson wisely understands: “The price of knowing the truth was never to admit that it had been spoken.”

 

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The rich history of paper-making in Maine is rapidly becoming a distant memory. Fortunately, Bucksport writer, poet and editor Pat Ranzoni is working hard to keep that memory alive.

“Still Mill” is Ranzoni’s laudable effort to collect and preserve Bucksport’s 80-year heritage as a paper mill town on the Penobscot River. For years, she has collected more than 180 stories, poems and songs about Bucksport’s paper mills, comprised of contributions submitted by the men, women, children and grandchildren of generations of paper mill workers and their families.

Ranzoni ensures this collection is a human chronicle, a sort of “mill-family voices,” as people recall the heady days of good, steady employment at paper mills operating around the clock. The descriptions of Bucksport as a mill town are vivid — the sights and sounds of ships, trucks, trains and the “thunderous roar of machinery,” as well as the nose-crinkling smell of sulfur and coal smoke.

Bucksport’s paper mill had many owners — St. Regis, Champion, International Paper and Verso, with most workers and townspeople pleased with all but Verso. Verso abruptly closed the mill in 2014, with “appalling indifference to its workforce and their families.” Still, former mill workers like Gene Sanborn eagerly describe various mill jobs, how paper was made and how multiple generations worked at the mill, graduating from high school one day and reporting to the mill the next.

Other stories tell of complex mill operations, its medical department, fire brigade, healthcare program and union organization, as well as how families coped living paycheck to paycheck and how Bucksport today has rebounded from the mill’s closing.

This is a thoughtful and considerate reminder of Maine’s labor history: “The mill was our livelihood. The only jobs they ever had.”

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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