Wixson captures rural Maine in her Sovereign stories series

I raced through all four of Jennifer Wixson’s novels that comprise the Sovereign Series. After stopping long enough to write reviews of each of her first two novels, I intended to do that when I finished reading novel #3, The Songbird of Sovereign, but I made the mistake of starting her fourth novel, The Minister’s Daughter, and couldn’t stop to write that third review.

So now, I’ll tell you about these next two novels. The songbird is Miss Jana Hastings, who spent seven decades as a music teacher for Sovereign’s children. She started out as a young girl, singing nationally, before being stricken with tuberculosis, which destroyed her singing voice. I just want to say that her story is inspiring.

This story brought home some of my own memories, including hunting rabbits in the brutal cold. Reminded of his rabbit hunting experiences as a kid, “Wendell chuckled. ‘Didn’t I hate rabbit huntin! Twas always so dang cold.”

“Why did you go with them then?” Rebecca asked, smiling. “Wal, you know, ‘twarn’t much else to do in wintah.” Been there, done that!
I also loved the fact that the door in Sovereign’s church was always unlocked. It bothers me that all of our churches are locked up. During our trips to Italy, Linda and I often wandered into unlocked churches – even those deep in the woods – to admire the art and enjoy the peacefulness.

Wixson often works poems into her stories, and I especially liked this one:
“When all the world is dark and gray, keep on hoping!
When bad things sometimes come your way, no sense moping.”
So very true.

Nellie is the minister’s daughter, who escapes that small rural town of Sovereign at an early age. She returns as an adult, for a brief visit with her mother, the town’s minister. But no surprise to me, Nellie falls in love with the town and settles there.
Wixson, who owns a farm with her husband in Troy where they raise Scottish Highland cattle, is also an itinerant Quaker minister. Her novels contain important Christian messages, along with realistic rural residents – some of whom you will recognize if you live in rural Maine.

For example, in Sovereign there is a group of men who gather at the local store to drink coffee, eat pasties, and talk. They call themselves the Old Farts. And they remind me of the group that gathers every Tuesday morning here in Mount Vernon at the Community Center for a men’s breakfast. Yup, most of us are old farts.

The restaurant in Sovereign could be the Olde Post Office Café in Mount Vernon. Sovereign’s library is our library, and well, I’ve already told you that many Mount Vernon residents mirror the wonderful characters in Jennifer’s novels.

I’ve got one more treat ahead – Jennifer’s final novel, Maggie’s Dilemma. I’d be a bit depressed, knowing this is her last novel, but she told me recently that she is writing a new novel. Wonderful news!

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.