Whispering Pines by Elliott Foster
Whispering Pines: Tales from a Northwoods Cabin takes place in September of 1993. The Travis family have come together to celebrate the birthday of their matriarch; Isabella Travis. Different members of the family share touching stories about growing up, hunting and fishing, and other antics they have gotten into in the past. The narration is shared by Isabella, her daughter Ruth, and grandson Eddie. Each story unravels memories long forgotten. It all begins with theories of how Lake Dunbar was created and progresses to how the family found their way to Whispering Pine, the family name for their cabin. It’s a fantastic story of building life, making new friends and memories, as well as the changing of traditions to adapt with the times. It is a story of family, faith, and above all, love.
The novel opens with exquisite descriptions of the history and landscape of Lake Dunbar. Readers are able to imagine the giant foot shaped lake Foster describes. The first segment depicts life in the small town Isabella lived in and then how her time was spent at Lake Dunbar which required them to hunt and gather. Foster captures the hardships and emotions the family had to endure such as Stella’s death after her appendix rupturing and Sam’s early death from a heart attack. One of the elements of the novel that was very well done was the different viewpoints. The novel is broken up into three parts, three different generations talking about the family, and reminiscing on their lives together. While each section is from another perspective, the fluidity and tone of the novel remains the same. One can almost picture a soft smile on each narrator’s face. It seems as though Isabella and Ruth had grand ideas of adventure and leaving the area, where as Eddie wanted to preserve the memories he had growing up. This shows how things can change; Isabella and Ruth wanted to travel away from where they grew up and away from the lake altogether. While Eddie realized the beauty and importance of the area where his family started their legacy. Foster has created a compelling story about family, and the places that shape who we become.
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