Fascinating story that captures rural Maine

Jeffrey Ryan’s book, Hermit, is a fascinating and unforgettable story about Jim Whyte’s mysterious life in a very remote section of the Maine woods in Onawa. I’d never heard of Onawa, but I found it on my map, not far from Milo.

And a lot of the story features the town of Monson, which I passed through many times on the way to Greenville and Moosehead Lake. Jeff is a real outdoorsman and hiker (he’s even hiked the difficult Pacific Coast trail) and he really captured the remote Maine woods and life in rural Maine.

And while Jim Whyte’s story is intriguing, Hermit is about a lot more than Jim Whyte, including everything from trout fishing to a terrible railroad crash. And a lot of the story is set in very remote camps, where individuals lived isolated and alone for decades.

The story is told in the first person by a man called Ben who does not live there but can’t stay away. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but I can tell you it will not take you many days to read, because you won’t be able to put it down.

I wasn’t surprised when Hermit was named a top pick for 2019 on a December Maine Calling show on Maine Public Radio.

Earle Shettleworth, our state’s historian, described the book well on the back cover: “Jeffrey Ryan takes us back to the mid-20th century in the Maine woods with a descriptive force and a gentle nostalgia that realistically evoke both time and place. Hermit will resonate with many readers who have experienced the mystique and beauty of the Maine wilderness.”

I especially enjoyed the photos at the end of the book. And I appreciated this message from Jeff at the end of the book: “Places don’t stay beautiful unless everyone pitches in to keep them so. If you go to Monson, Onawa, Milo, or other locations mentioned in this book, please respect the land and the landowners.”

Hermit was published by Maine Authors Publishing. You can learn more about Jeff at JeffRyanAuthor.com which includes information about his other great books.




George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.