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Book Review: The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser

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The Lumby Lines is a friendly laid-back tale that takes place in a remote northwestern town. Here, 4200 relaxed townspeople never seem to take themselves too seriously. All appear rather happy, quaintly removed from anything sinister in the outside world. Lumby moves at its own pace with its own small newspaper: The Lumby Lines. Use your imagination to couple Andy Griffith’s friendly town of Mayberry with Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon and you will approximate Lumby.

The story line is not complicated.

1) Vacationing in Lumby where they fall in love with the town’s simplicity and tranquil spirit, Mark and Pam Walker pull up their roots and relocate to rebuild Lumby's Montis Abbey. It was built in 1893. Until a fire ravaged the abbey, the main building and its grounds earned historic landmark status. But Pam and Mark are determined to rebuild the abbey and its thirty-four acres into a profitable inn.

2) The monks from the burned out abbey have moved to another location. These men befriend Mark and Pam when they learn of the reconstruction of their beloved former home, yet they are deeply troubled because the skills of penning calligraphy are no longer needed because of today’s computerized printing techniques. Once again, the monks can no longer afford the expenses of their present location and are faced with moving again.

3) Not all townsfolk are happy about the restructuring of Montis Abbey. In particular is the owner of the town’s newspaper who writes an editorial about the influences Montis Inn might wreak on the town's economy and its inhabitants. “Simply because the Walkers have obtained a business license does not mean their plans are a good thing for Lumby.”

How Gail Fraser’s quirky characters bring her winsome tale to a believable conclusion is the magic behind Lumby Lines. There are Mark and his wife Pam who leave the East Coast far behind to build a dream in humble Lumby. Both are highly intelligent professionals who desert well-paying jobs to strike out as business entrepreneurs with little or no real experience. But both are willing to learn as they go. They are convinced that love will get them through any difficulty.

There is 90-year-old Charlotte, an extremely wealthy widow who loves books. She wears simple house dresses about town with her stockings rolled down below her knees. She is extremely generous with her money and decides she needs more excitement in her life than mere gardening. She will remarry. Better known as Charley, Charlotte has married several times.

There is Joshua, a former brother who lived at Montis Abbey before it burned. He seems intrigued by Brook, an architect friend whom Mark and Pam have invited to Lumby to draw up plans for renovating the burned out structure. Fate has brought them together in this picturesque town but will fate also separate them?

Then, too, an artificial flamingo appears around town dressed appropriately or inappropriately for any occasion. Although Hank “prefers” not to talk, nevertheless, author Fraser often includes his probable mental imaginings and self talk.

Where else but in Lumby could a four-year-old Golden Retriever be placed on the ballot for mayor. After a thorough examination of Lumby’s law books, “there is no law on the books to prevent a canine from running for, or taking office.”

Then there is the fiasco when a ranch in Anchorage, Alaska ships a female moose to Lumby. The Lumby Farmers Association hoped to begin processing moose milk into special "moose cheese.” The moose, of course protests because it turns out to be an elk — a male elk at that!

Lumby Lines is one of several books by Gail Fraser about this remote town. If you are seeking something light to read, something humorous, something different — an adventurous fun tale that will distract you from the perils of modern reality and help lower your stress level and blood pressure, Lumby Lines can be your tonic.

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