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  • A remarkable novel

    Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite Maggie O’Connor had lived eighty years and continued to be a strong, assertive woman. She lived in a cabin in rural Wisconsin that she and her deceased husband loved. With the occasional assistance of a young man, Vic, and other neighbors, she maintained her independence until a fall on the cellar steps. She hired a young woman, Isobel, to perform necessary household tasks during her recovery. Both had emigrated to the United States as young women – Maggie from Ireland, and Isobel from Canada. Maggie’s determination to stay in her home was jeopardized by neighbor Bill Breunig who threatened to purchase her property. As Maggie knew her time on earth was ending, she struggled with past decisions and revealed a secret to Isobel. In the gripping novel, A Measured Thread by Mary Behan, a tale of complicated relationships and emotions unfold. The author constructs a plot with many twists and turns, building to an unforeseen ending. The character of Maggie is complex as her past is unveiled, bit by bit. As a retired science professor, she was professionally successful but she harbored painful life events. The author skillfully crafted this main character, as well as Isobel and Vic. Both characters are essential to the story, providing support and solutions to Maggie’s current dilemmas. Another charming feature of this book includes the colorful descriptions of Maggie’s Wisconsin property in the valley and the visit to her Irish homeland. Author Mary Behan has penned a remarkable novel in A Measured Thread. It is poignant in many ways, fully demonstrating the circle of life.

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  • A wonderful read

    I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent historical novel on December 1, 2020, from Netgalley, author Mary Behan, and publishers Lawrence Gate Press and BooksGoSocial. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. This is a warm, soft-hearted tale that I found totally compelling. It is one I highly recommend to friends and family and will plan to read, again, down the line. If you are not familiar with Aldo Leopold, please research his contributions to restoring farmed-out land into a healthy, nourishing prairie. Aldo Leopold and his family invested their lives in this project. He and his children and grandchildren have researched and written much on the subject. And of course, the "measured thread" refers to the Greek Fates, goddesses Clotho, the spinner, Lachesis, with a measuring tape, and Atropos, the elderly lady with the knife, prepared to cut the thread of life. In the author's information, you will find a similar history to that of our protagonist, Maggie O'Connor, which accounts for the perfect reenactment of time and location in our tale. As Mary Behan shares with us, history is merely experiences remembered. She shares with us her own experiences with things as varied as traveling alone half-way around the world for a college scholarship and the steps in becoming a US citizen, awaking in students the love of learning, creating an Aldo Leopold prairie in her own back yard, to years of hosting winter solstice parties in her neighborhood. An Irish immigrant and professional woman, a retired professor who loved her work, Maggie is childless and ten years widowed. She has spent the last 50 years of her life in the cabin she and her husband made their home in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin. Retirement has given her more time to make improvements and repairs to the homestead, to walk her fields and sort through and weed-out her possessions. There are cousins scarcely known in Ireland, but no closer family to inherit her home, and they are all her age as well, not long for this world. She changed her will when her husband died, leaving her worldly goods to those cousins, but knows that they will simply sell it all and divide out the money. She can't blame them for that, but she is fairly sure that her years of work returning the farm and land to health will be almost immediately lost. The pushy neighbor who offers to buy her out every chance he gets mentions cornfields, or perhaps sub-divisions. And then mere days before her 80th birthday, she takes a fall on the basement stairs. Broken right wrist, several ribs, right foot, twisted ankle, and wrecked right knee has her in hospital and rehab for weeks, and her recovery is not going to be speedy. The house is on several levels and is isolated, she will not be able to drive for a while, and though her neighbors for the most part are very helpful she accepts that she is going to have to have help if she gets to go home. The young man who has helped his father over the years to make improvements and provide maintenance on the farm will be glad to help but he has a business to run, so his time is limited. Enter Isobel Babic. A college student in nearby Madison, Isobel is cheerful, helpful, responsible. She will be conscientious and has several days a week she can help. She will of course need to bring her dog... And in the quiet afternoons, she will willingly read aloud the recently uncovered box of letters Maggie sent weekly to her parents in Ireland back in the long ago... Letters returned to her by those cousins after the death of her mother. Maggie is of two minds about reading the letters. She is quite content with her life, more pleasant than otherwise, comfortable, productive. A life well-lived. Going back to those times of change and youthful folly and angst might not be the thing at this point in her life. But it might help Isobel deal with changes coming in her own world.

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