Reviews & Features
OREGONIAN HIGHLIGHTS SHIFTING WINDS
“Janet Fisher has Oregon history running through her veins: She grew up on and now runs the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm, founded in 1868 by her great-great grandmother Martha Poindexter Maupin,” writes Amy Wang of The Oregonian in a feature that ran in the Sunday A&E Section under Books on March 13, 2016 and also in OregonLive online.
“Fisher, a longtime writer and editor, turns to Oregon’s pioneer days for her new historical novel, ‘The Shifting Winds‘ (Globe Pequot Press),” Wang adds. Then Wang includes an excerpt from the book. A lovely spread.
–Amy Wang, The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon
WRITER FINDS HERSELF IN THE PAST
This year Janet Fisher’s book, “A Place of Her Own,” was released in bookstores coast to coast.
The former writing instructor had discovered many common threads between her life and Martha’s. The more she uncovered, the more Fisher began to identify with her great-great-grandmother.
Martha Ann Poindexter was born in 1829 in Kentucky. Martha’s life changed considerably when Garrett Maupin rode into it.
Bolstering her inventive prose are “reams” of primary source material Fisher uncovered, including a 75-page manuscript by one of Martha’s granddaughters.
Throughout the book Fisher puts her characters and scenes in historical context. She writes about the Maupins’ turbulent marriage with a background of changing gender politics during the Civil War era. She puts Garrett’s Southern sympathies in the context of a North South divide that split the whole country, even Oregon.
–Garrett Andrews, The News-Review, Roseburg, Oregon
A VERY READABLE TALE
Martha Poindexter Maupin came across the Oregon Trail in 1850. Two years after the death of her husband in 1866, she bought land near the present-day town of Kellogg, about an hour southwest of Eugene, Oregon. Today her great-great-granddaughter Janet Fisher lives on the farm. A Place of Her Own is not only Martha’s story but the story of Janet’s journey of discovery as she unearths the history of her family’s land.
It is not always a heart-warming story. Martha married against her parents’ wishes. Her husband, Garrett, drank too much and abused his family. Fisher sensitively explores the mix of emotions that must have washed over Martha following Garrett’s accidental death, while touching briefly on struggles from her own personal life that inevitably surfaced in the course of such an undertaking.
Ultimately, it is a story of strength and courage, as Martha overcomes the many hardships inherent to the times in which she lived and the roads she chose.
Janet’s account of Martha’s life is written in novel form from Martha’s point of view. It is interspersed with “Interludes” from Janet that relate some of the logistical challenges of genealogical research, joyful moments of discovery, her yearning to connect with her great-great-grandmother, and the emotional challenges of traversing Martha’s darkest moments. Historical purists might quibble with Janet’s reconstruction of scenes, conversations, and feelings. But the end product not only represents a very readable tale, it embodies Janet’s aim to “find” the woman to whom she is linked not only by genealogy but by ownership of the land as a single woman.
–Amanda Bird, The Book Nest, Springfield, Oregon
For more of this review, see Birds’ Books a blog written by Amanda Bird, proprietor of The Book Nest, a stall in the Indulge antique mall in Springfield, Oregon. Amanda invited me to be the featured author at The Book Nest’s “Lunch with an Author” on Thursday, October 2, at noon.
FARM AND FAMILY
June 29, 2014 – Elkton – Five years ago, on a ridge overlooking the Umpqua River a few miles south of here, Janet Fisher built a house on the same farm her great-great-grandmother, Martha Poindexter Maupin, had bought for herself and her children 140 years before.
The two women had more in common than Fisher realized until she embarked on a quest to learn who her ancestor really was. The search introduced her to a rich family history she never knew existed and yielded a book, “A Place of Her Own,” a title that applies equally to both women.
“For more than two years, I walked in Martha’s shoes, saw the world through her eyes and lived her life,” Fisher said. “All the historical material that I found, and the research that other relatives had done, gave me a basic skeleton to work with.
“My job was to fill in the gaps and re-create Martha’s story.”
–Randi Bjornstad, The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon
ONE OF ALUMNI BOOKS TO CAPTURE THEIR IMAGINATIONS
A classic pioneer woman’s story, as told by her great-great-granddaughter. Fisher, who earned her master’s degree in journalism at the UO, now owns the century farm her ancestor purchased–as a single mother in 1866.
—Oregon Quarterly, University of Oregon Alumni Magazine, Eugene, Oregon
SELECTED FOR BOOK NOTES
A historical novel about an early Oregon pioneer, Martha Poindexter Maupin, and the farm and town that are her legacy.
—Oregon Stater, Oregon State University Alumni Magazine, Corvallis, Oregon
“I gobbled the book in one sitting, shed some real tears with and for you and Martha along the way, and enjoyed it all tremendously. You are a fine storyteller, and Martha’s story is full of such rich detail.”
So said Kathy Westra, a writer for the American Forestry Foundation magazine, Woodland, after reading A Place of Her Own. Her story will appear in the summer issue of Woodland.
This feels like my first review. 🙂