Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Review: Julie

Julie. Catherine Marshall. 1984/1985. Avon. 428 pages. [Source: Bought]

I've read Catherine Marshall's Christy many times, but, this was my first time reading her last novel, Julie.

What did I think about Julie? Well, on the surface, Julie reminded me very much of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. (North and South is one of my favorite books.) Julie's family is on-the-move because the father has left the ministry. The family has mixed feelings on the move, and there is a certain amount of uncertainty about the future. The town where they move is a mill town. The lower-class workers are most upset about working conditions and are contemplating striking. Julie becomes interested in their cause, and enjoys talking with workers now and then. She's not unafraid to speak up for the lower-class and make a few enemies. Julie is in some ways a novel about social class. These were just a few similarities that came to mind. But there are plenty of things that make Julie unique.

So what is it about? Julie is the oldest of three children. She has a younger brother, Tim, and a younger sister, Anne-Marie. Their father has just bought a newspaper. Buying the paper has taken all their resources--if the paper doesn't make it, then the family loses everything. Oh, and I should mention the book is set in Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. So there are no guarantees that the newspaper can survive the hard times. They've got barely enough to run the paper and manage their living expenses. They didn't budget in emergencies. Fortunately, the family seems to have a guardian angel who looks out for them and the paper. The guardian angel is named Dean. Julie will volunteer at the paper when she's not busy in school. She wants to be a journalist, so, she doesn't really mind all that much.

Julie's in high school. She makes a few good friends. Her best friend is Margo. There are several guys interested in Julie, but, Julie seems much more interested in an older man, an English man, named Rand. These two don't always get along. Julie likes to ask too many questions, and, some of the questions make him uncomfortable. For one, she becomes fascinated with the dam. Is it safe? Is it dangerous? Does it need repairs? How many? Are any major repairs? When will they be done? Why is talk about the dam discouraged? Julie's questions are catching. Soon her father is asking questions as well, which, in addition with their views on unions, makes the family some enemies…

I definitely found it a compelling and dramatic read. I'm glad I finally read it!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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