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Garfield's Train: A Novel Paperback – July 25, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: PublishAmerica (July 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1413769152
  • ISBN-13: 978-1413769159
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,375,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Marilyn Goldberg on February 18, 2006
GARFIELD'S TRAIN is the wonderful story of the Dunbar family, who lived in Long Branch, New Jersey during the time when Long Branch was the town where many wealthy and famous people summered. The late nineteenth century is the setting for this family history and story within that story of the lifelong friendship between two extraordinary women of the time.

The Dunbar family history and story of this friendship is told to us by Kate, the granddaughter of the now elderly Louise Dunbar, as she accompanies her grandmother in 1947 on a train trip to visit her dying friend, Mollie Brown. During the train ride back, Louise reveals to Kate that Mollie is actually the daughter of President James A. Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, who was shot three months after entering office and died three months later. Louise tells Kate the story of her fascinating friendship with Mollie through the years, as well as about her own upbringing in Long Branch when it was in its heyday. She has wonderful stories to tell about the famous people vacationing there that she and her family knew personally. The tales she tells weave their course through the historical events taking place both before Garfield's nomination and after his election, through the attempted assassination, and Garfield's final three months in Long Branch, where he was brought to die. In their telling, we become acquainted with the entire Garfield family, and other notable people of that time, such as General Grant, Roscoe Conkling, General Sherman, James G. Blaine, General Sherman, and Susan B. Anthony. We learn quite a bit about the actual lives of the historical individuals. Ms.
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Some friendships last for years. Some may last a lifetime. Friendships, even in fiction, that span history and bridge the gap into five generations are rare and special.

"In August, 1947, I traveled by train across the country with my grandmother. The telegram had come two days before. Mollie Brown was dying and calling for Gran, her oldest and dearest friend. Gran was going, willy or nilly."

Thus begins Kate's journey through the history of her grandmother's family, the Dunbars, as they interact with some of the characters that make up American History. Along the way Kate meets many fascinating people, including Presidents, Generals and Senators. She learns the Dunbar family secrets and along the way, much about herself.

When the train arrives in Pasadena, Kate is amazed by the life left in a lady said to be on her deathbed and her brothers: "It was hard to believe that five elderly people could generate such genuine merriment- and noise."

Soon Mollie is gone, and Kate and her grandmother begin the trip home. Only then does Louise reveal that Mollie was the daughter of a president- Garfield, and tells the rest of the story.

Stories are our dearest heritage. With each new generation, stories are born, live and die. The stories we cherish, care for over our lifetimes, and pass on like family heirlooms define us, and allow our influence to live on into the next generation. Kate says of her grandmother: "She wasn't telling me to pass the time; she wanted another living soul to know these things."

My recommendation? Curl up with a cup of cocoa on a rainy, grey day, and take a trip on Garfield's train.

I give this a Muse review rating of Good for it's slow pace, but recommend it as a rainy day afternoon read for anyone interested in American history.

Mary Schneider, Muse Book Reviews
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By Christy T. French on September 23, 2005
In 1947, at the age of 23, Kate accompanies her grandmother, Louise Dunbar Stanfield, on a train trip across the country to visit her dying friend, Mollie Brown. As the train travels over the landscape, Louise tells Kate of her life as a child on the Jersey Shore, in a city called Long Branch. It was here the wealthiest families built elaborate homes and whiled away the days and evenings at casinos and racetracks. As her grandmother's story continues, Kate learns that Mollie Brown is actually the daughter of President James Garfield, who served in office only three months before being shot and subsequently dying three months later. During his last days, Garfield was brought back to Long Branch, where it was hoped he would recuperate.

This is a lovely story about a continuing friendship between two young girls and the events that transpired during an important time in our nation's history. GARFIELD'S TRAIN is a compelling read, blooming with historical facts evolving around history makers of the late nineteenth century. Of interest is the political wrangling that went on before and after Garfield's nomination and subsequent election, and the country's reaction to his failing health after he was shot. An absolute must-read for history and political science lovers as well as anyone who enjoys spending time with a fascinating book. Highly recommended.
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By Rebecca Brown on November 19, 2005
Dr. Bond of Rebeccasreads recommends GARFIELD'S TRAIN as an interesting & informative historical novel as told by an old woman who had been the lifelong friend of President Garfield's daughter.

The depth of Ms. Foster's scholarship is evident, which is an ideal shortcut for readers who enjoy learning about history but don't wish to spend time or energy delving into the research so thoroughly investigated by the author. The shooting of the president in 1881 is particularly well written, & leaves the reader rapidly turning pages to follow the course of Garfield's decline & eventual death.

Not quite as good as her first: LADIES: A Conjecture of Personalities -- the voices of America's First Ladies from Martha Washington to Mamie Eisenhower.
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