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The Clever Mill Horse Paperback – August 15, 2014
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". . .intricately plotted and exceedingly well paced. . . filled with danger, science, and suspense, the story rings true with historical and natural detail. . . a complete and finely polished first novel."
--Foreword Reviews (5 Stars)
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Top Customer Reviews
You can read the book as a suspense-adventure story in which the young heroine, Ella Kenyon is racing to Washington to patent the flax milling machine that she and her grandfather have invented before her enemies manage to steal their invention and patent it ahead of her.
But to think that this patent adventure is what the book is really about you would have to completely ignore the remarkable “prelude” with which the book begins. Here is the opening sentence:
“An invention can become a member of the family. Someone you must attend to even when you’re tired to death of it. A pint of your blood.”
If this opening sentence is a true guide to what follows, it seems that Ella Kenyon is not just pursuing her own goal. No, she is like a primary care-giver to a disabled family member. And that family member — the invention — is something she feels burdened by, but at the same time it is in her blood and she can’t just give it up. But the question that is asked a little later in the prelude is, “Whose blood?”
The prelude offers some insight into the nature of Ella’s ambivalence, and at the same time I believe that it provides some hints about how the author would like her book to be read.
The prelude opens on a misty evening in April of 1804 in “Deborahville”, a fictitious village in central New York State, presumably near what is now the city of Oneida.Read more ›
Now since gothic novels employed descriptive writing, how did Jodi do? I think she did very well. On page 43, Jodi describes Ella’s father, Amherst…”He was of middle height, but seemed shorter because of his unusually thick shoulders-derived from years of hefting flour sacks. Unlike his powerful shoulders, his face, which must have once been handsome in a rugged way, had sagged here and puffed there, until he had come to wear an old man’s face on a vigorous body.” Not bad for a farmer with 250 apple trees!Read more ›
Though I don't think that initial wish came true, there was still much in the book to be enjoyed. I did hope that it would have an independent and incorrigible female protagonist that was determined and defied the odds. Check! It did. That was clear right from the start with Ella and carried on throughout the book, as she gave us a well-rounded, intelligent, and feisty female that the rest of us can all admire. That was her best formed character, followed by Aunt Lucille, the Native American from the Oneida tribe named Pete, and Jenny, Ella's sister. I also enjoyed the antagonist, Emerston, as he was conniving, manipulative, and wholly dimensional. I felt those characters were the best done and those are the ones I'd remember as the stars of the book. At first I wasn't sure that any of her characters would be memorable like Ella, and almost found them flat or surface in the beginning, but by halfway in, she proved me wrong as the other characters began to show themselves. I was glad to see so many strong female characters in this book.
I have to admit when I started the book I wondered where it was going and if it was reading like a middle reader more than a novel. It was slow to start and I wondered if I'd want to read it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After a slow start it really got me involved. many twists. good plotPublished 14 months ago by Carole Kantor
In 1810 twenty-one year old Ella Kenyon needs to keep her promise to her grandfather and finish designing the first flax mill to strip raw flax into the silky fiber used to weave... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Nancy A.
Wonderful entertainment! The book had me creating time to read, wishing to get back to it often. Ella is a non-girly girl, learning the ways of the woods, engineering and self... Read morePublished 15 months ago by S. Corbett
Amazingly well written, insightful story of the mid 1800's in America. The characters are complex and well developed, the plot has many unexpected twists and avoids cliche's. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Tracey Duffy
A captivating story and a creative look into an interesting time in history. I am very much looking forward to the rest of the series!Published 16 months ago by Nancy F. Kish
The Clever Mill Horse is initially an intriguing and endearing look at the life of young women in small towns in upstate New York in the early 1800s. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Richard Sutton
Ella Kenyon, a strong-willed young woman, struggles against harsh odds and devious men to fulfill her grandfather’s dream and learns much about herself as well as her companions... Read morePublished 17 months ago by John R. Lindermuth
Full disclosure: this book was sent to me for free in exchange for writing a review.
This is set during one of the least-discussed periods of American history: between... Read more