Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Divining Rod



The Divining Rod: A Story of the Oil Regions

A Novel by Francis Newton Thorpe (1857-1926). 

Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1905. 356 pages.


A romance of the Western Pennsylvania Oil Rush set near Titusville. When Elder Blaisdon, a local Methodist mystic, follows his divining rod to where Helen Bostwick, a poor farmer's daughter, sits on a hill, new oil is discovered and turns the Bostwicks nouveau riche. In a subplot Helen must choose between several young man who pursue her, hoping to marry into their oil company.

Francis Newton Thorpe, born in Massachusetts, was a lawyer, legal scholar, historian, political scientist, and novelist. He was a professor of constitutional history at the University of Pennsylvania. Thorpe owned a summer home in North East, Erie County, where he established a grape farm, "Indian Arrow Vineyards."

Genre: 
Historical Novel
Subgenre: Romance Novel
Time: 19th-century
Place: Crawford County, Venango County, Allegheny River, Oil Creek, Allegheny Mountains, Titusville, Oil City
Keywords: Western Pennsylvania Oil Rush, farmers, oil industry, oil workers, drillers, stokers, teamsters, oil wells, oil refineries, chemists, doctors, judges, railroad industry, monopolies, Protestants, Methodists, Presbyterians, Protestant ministers, circuit rider preachers, mystics, illegitimate children

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Forbidden Tree



The Forbidden Tree

A Novel by Elizabeth Moorhead (1866-1955).

Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1933. 336 pages.

The Forbidden Tree (1933) is the story of Charles Maynard, a young college professor on a thinly-veiled version of the Carnegie Tech campus of the 1920s.

Elizabeth Moorhead Vermorcken, born after the Civil War to an old Pittsburgh family. When her father's steel business failed in the 1890s, she lived in Paris a few years, married, but returned after that failed. From 1910 to 1929 Moorhead taught literature at Carnegie Tech. In retirement, she wrote full time, beginning with Clouded Hills, then two other novels and a memoir. She died in 1955 as a resident of the Schenley Hotel in Oakland and is buried at Allegheny Cemetery.
  
Genre: Literary Novel
Subgenres: Psychological Novel, Campus Novel
Time: 20th-century, 1920s
Place: Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Schenley Park, Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Mellon University)
Keywords: nurses, doctors, professors, college students

Answer Before Dark



Answer Before Dark

A Novel by Elizabeth Moorhead (1866-1955).

Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1930. 298 pages.

Answer Before Dark (1930) is the story of Mary Ann Braeburn, daughter of high-society Pittsburghers, who in the 1920s defers a marriage proposal from a steel executive in order to pursue her dream of being a painter that's selected for the Carnegie International, America's oldest competition of international art.

Elizabeth Moorhead Vermorcken, born after the Civil War to an old Pittsburgh family. When her father's steel business failed in the 1890s, she lived in Paris a few years, married, but returned after that failed. From 1910 to 1929 Moorhead taught literature at Carnegie Tech. In retirement, she wrote full time, beginning with Clouded Hills, then two other novels and a memoir. She died in 1955 as a resident of the Schenley Hotel in Oakland and is buried at Allegheny Cemetery.
  
Genre: Literary Novel
Subgenres: Psychological Novel, Women's Literature
Time: 20th-century, 1920s
Place: Allegheny County, Allegheny Mountains, Allegheny River, Monongahela River, Ohio River, Pittsburgh, Downtown, Oakland, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh Golf Club (Squirrel Hill), Schenley Park, Carnegie Museum, Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Mellon University), Schenley Hotel
Keywords: artists, painters, juried art competitions, Carnegie International, steel industry, Protestants, Roman Catholics

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

All I Could See from Where I Stood



All I Could See from Where I Stood

A Novel by George Christy (1927— ).

Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1963. 220 pages.

Set in 1939 Monessen, All I Could See (1963) is a coming-of-age novel about Stephanos Hermes, who hates his Greekness and immigrant parents as he struggles to Americanize himself into 1930s Mon Valley culture.

George Christy, born George Stupakis in Monessen, Pennsylvania, studied at Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Mellon University) and for many years was "party-and-publicity" columnist for The Hollywood Reporter.
  
Genre: Literary Novel
Subgenres: Coming-of-Age Novel
Time: 20th-century, 1930s, 1940s, 1939, 1940
Place: Westmoreland County, Allegheny County, Commandment Hill (Monessen), Pittsburgh
Keywords: Greek Americans, Italian Americans, Polish Americans, Croatian Americans, African Americans, Greek Orthodox Christians, Greek Orthodox priests, Greek school, Roman Catholics, steel industry, steel towns, steelworkers, librarians, junior high school students, high school students, suicides

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Triangle's End



The Triangle's End

A Novella by William H. Jones (1910— ?).

New York: Exposition Press, Inc., 1954. 243 pages.

The Triangle's End (1954) is a novel about racial prejudice, marital infidelity, and a love triangle set in a fictionalized version of the author's own North Side neighborhood, Manchester. The central figure is Paul Bonat, who after being born in the South, is adopted by a couple that moves to Pittsburgh.

Jones himself was born in Congers, Georgia, and migrated to Pittsburgh with his parents when he was six. He graduated from Oliver High School then attended the University of Pittsburgh for a year and a half before quitting during the Great Depression. He worked as a trucker, welder, car washer, and a maintenance man. 
  
Genre: Literary Novel
Subgenres: African-American Novel, Coming-of-Age, Romance
Time: 20th-century, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s
Place: Allegheny County, Erie County, Lake Erie, Pittsburgh, North Side, Downtown, Erie
Keywords: African Americans, mulattos, orphans, high school students, bakery workers

The Man in Lower Ten



The Man in Lower Ten

A Novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958).

Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1909. 282 pages.

Lawyer Lawrence Blakeley must take bank notes from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh and take a statement from an official that they are forged. The Man in Lower Ten (1909) is a mystery set on the train and in the cities, but after theft and murder, a weapon is found under Blakeley's pillow and makes him a suspect.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, born in Allegheny City and a graduate of Allegheny High School, was a celebrated and prolific writer of more than 50 murder mysteries, 8 plays, and hundreds of stories and poems. While at nurse in Pittsburgh, she married Dr. Stanley Rinehart, but she started writing in 1903 to earn money after her husband's stock market loss. Her early success led her to purchase a mansion in Sewickley. Rinehart's 1920 stage play The Bat was adapted into film and inspired comic-book writer Bob Crane with his 1939 superhero Batman published by DC Comics. With her sons, Rinehart founded the New York publishing house of Rinehart & Company and served as its director. Rinehart died in New York City; she is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  
Genre: Mystery Novel
Subgenres: Detective Novel, Women's Literature
Time: 19th-century, 20th-century, 1870s, 1900s, 1910s, 1877, 1907, 1912
Place: Allegheny County, Allegheny Mountains, Allegheny River, Ohio River, Monongahela River, Pittsburgh, Downtown, Union Station (Penn Station)
Keywords: bankers, lawyers, salesmen, millionaires, Pittsburgh police, detectives, steel industry, steel magnates

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Case of Jenny Brice



The Case of Jenny Brice

A Novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) with illustrations by M. Leone Bracker (1885-1937).

Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1913. 227 pages.

The Case of Jenny Brice (1913) is a murder mystery set during a spring flood in 1907 at a boarding house in a poor neighborhood in Allegheny City (North Side). When Mrs. Pitman notices a bloodstained rope and towel and a missing tenant (actress Jennie Brice), she's convinced that there's been a murder in her boarding house. The police, however, say there is no case without a body, so Pitman tries to ferret out the killer on her own. When a headless body washes ashore in Sewickley and the plot thickens.

M. Leone Bracker of Rye, New Hampshire, was an artist and illustrator.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, born in Allegheny City and a graduate of Allegheny High School, was a celebrated and prolific writer of more than 50 murder mysteries, 8 plays, and hundreds of stories and poems. While at nurse in Pittsburgh, she married Dr. Stanley Rinehart, but she started writing in 1903 to earn money after her husband's stock market loss. Her early success led her to purchase a mansion in Sewickley. Rinehart's 1920 stage play The Bat was adapted into film and inspired comic-book writer Bob Crane with his 1939 superhero Batman published by DC Comics. With her sons, Rinehart founded the New York publishing house of Rinehart & Company and served as its director. Rinehart died in New York City; she is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  
Genre: Mystery Novel
Subgenres: Detective Novel, Women's Literature
Time: 19th-century, 20th-century, 1870s, 1900s, 1910s, 1877, 1907, 1912
Place: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Allegheny River, Ohio River, Monongahela River, Allegheny City (North Side), Pittsburgh, Downtown, Shadyside, Sewickley, Beaver, Union Station (Penn Station), Pennsylvania Limited, Ninth Street Bridge, Sixth Street Bridge, Pittsburgh Homeopathic Hospital (UPMC Shadyside Hospital)
Keywords: Railroad Strike of 1877, floods, boarding houses, Pittsburgh Police, private investigators, coroners, district attorneys, Pennsylvania Railroad, steamboats, theater industry, vaudeville, actors, druggists, doctors

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Player Piano




Player Piano

A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007).

New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952. 295 pages.

The debut novel of Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano, is set in fictitious Illium (modeled on General Electric factory towns of Upstate New York) and Pittsburgh.

Ten years after a fictitious Third World War, American workers are mostly replaced by machines. Engineers and managers are deeply divided from a now nearly-useless working class. When Paul Proteus, a super engineer in Illium, is offered a promotion as manager of the corporation's flagship, the Pittsburgh Works, he struggles to determine which side he's really on.

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, born in Indianapolis, briefly studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh.
  
Genre: Science Fiction
Subgenres: Literary Novel, Dystopian Novel, Satire, Comedy
Time: 20th-century, near future
Place: Allegheny County, Pittsburgh
Keywords: engineers, automation

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rivers to the Sea



Rivers to the Sea: An American Story

A Novel by Lucien Hubbard (1888-1971).

New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942. 313 pages.

Rivers to the Sea is a historical novel based on the life of inventor Nicholas Roosevelt (1767-1854), who in 1810 built, in Pittsburgh, the first steamboat on the Western waters of the United States.

The novel opens with a boy named Davie walking the Allegheny Mountains west to Pittsburgh. He helps to repair Roosevelt's broken stage coach, follows him to Pittsburgh, and assists in the building of the New Orleans, which ushered in commercial steamboat navigation to the West and South. In a subplot Davie falls in love with a beautiful Pittsburgh washerwoman. In the second half, the steamboat makes its maiden voyage from the Point to New Orleans.

Lucien Hubbard was a screenwriter, director, and film producer of more than 90 pictures. His 1927 movie Wings won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. Rivers to the Sea seems to be his only novel.
  
Genre: Historical Novel
Subgenres: Biographical Novel, Road Novel
Time: 19th-century, 1810s, 1810, 1811, 1812
Place: Allegheny County, Fayette County, Bedford County, Allegheny Mountains, Allegheny River, Monongahela River, Ohio River, Sawmill Run, Forbes Road, Bedford, Redstone Old Fort (Brownsville), Pittsburgh, Fort Pitt, Downtown, Mount Washington, Grant's Hill, Coal Hill, Brunot's Island
Keywords: steamboat industry, inventors, flatboats, keelboats, steamboats, Nicholas Roosevelt, Lydia Latrobe, Robert Fulton, James O'Hara

Friday, August 1, 2014

Donegal's Son



Donegal's Son

A Novel by L. Jaye Hill (19??— ).

Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011. 316 pages.

Set in the fictitious steeltown of Shankton, Donegal's Son is a sequel to Steel Clouds (2009), a historical novel about Michael Carey, who in 1942 is awaiting the birth of his first child. The plot shifts frequently to memories of Carey's Irish immigrant parents and his trauma in 1906 than landed him in an orphanage.

L. Jaye Hill, a native of Brentwood, Allegheny County, is a journalist and novelist who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
  
Genre: Historical Novel
Subgenres: Christian Novel
Time: 20th-century, 1970s, 1979
Place: Allegheny County, Allegheny River, Monongahela River, Ohio River, Pittsburgh
Keywords: immigrants, steelworkers, farmers, bankers, Roman Catholics, Roman Catholic priests, Protestants, Protestant ministers, Methodists, Episcopalians, Irish Americans