I just discovered a wonderful Maine writer. Lew-Ellyn Hughes isn’t exactly a hidden gem, because she’s been writing a column, Away with Words, for western Maine’s The Original Irregular, for many years. And she’s won many Maine Press Association awards for those columns.
But I didn’t know about her until I read a review by Bill Bushnell of her new book, Maine Stories, published by Maine Authors Publishing in Thomaston. I was intrigued and promptly ordered up a copy of the book. And now I know why she’s so popular and has won awards.
Maine Stories are just that, great stories about our state and people. Lew-Ellyn has a very entertaining way of writing her stories, often in the first person. Many of the stories are humerous. She covers it all, from bugs to grandchildren. There’s even a story about how she could not come up with a story for that week’s column. I also enjoyed her column about her collection of old Maine books – something I’ve done too.
From teaching kids to ski to operating her own B&B, Lew-Ellyn is out there, doing it and writing about it. One of the more serious stories really grabbed me: a story about a little girl, Delia, who lived in Aroostook County. She was nine years old when her mother died of tuberculosis. Her grandparents were unable to care for her, so she hit the road, carrying her meager belongings, but no money.
People took her in and worked her like a slave. She shoveled hay until she fainted from exhaustion. Many of the homes where she worked treated her horribly, battered, assaulted, neglected, and treated her like slave labor.
Somehow little Delia survived, maintaining a hopeful attitude. When she reached adulthood, she became the loving, nurturing mother of eight children. And as Lew-Ellyn notes, she’s very thankful that Delia didn’t give up on life, because she was Lew-Ellyn’s great grandmother.
I read all of Lew-Ellyn’s 102 stories in one day, unable to stop reading. You can learn more about her and this wonderful book at www.lewellynhughes.com.