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A Small Harvest
of Pretty Days
by Larry Kimport
About this Book
In 1890s Pennsylvania, Clara Waltz is returning home from visiting ailing old Mrs. Snyder. She encounters a drunken man who, along with four others, had gang-raped her eleven years prior. Terrified, she flees on foot, hiding in a partially fallen tree along a riverbank. From within she sees an unknown tattered-looking man suddenly appear. A great fracas ensues. When all has quieted down, she crawls out and finds that the rapist has been murdered. The stranger is nowhere in sight.
Clara becomes a suspect with the discovery of yet another murder. He, too, was one she steadfastly accused of raping her. Soon an aging drifter comes to the farm where Clara and her illegitimate daughter live as domestic help to a prominent farm family. Clara finds herself being drawn to him, in spite of believing him to be the killer.
This first-person narrative is told through Clara's voice, as an older woman, as a legacy to her children. It's a tale of abuse and murder, but, ultimately, a tale of love and hope.
About the Author
Larry Kimport grew up in north-central Pennsylvania. For the past 24 years, he has coordinated an alternative educational program for at-risk teens in suburban New Jersey.
He has always been fascinated by what became of Huck Finn as an older man, after The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
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Larry Kimport, a native of north-central Pennsylvania, uses this setting for his novel, A Small Harvest of Pretty Days. This tender love story is a first person narrative told through the voice of an older woman, Clara Waltz, and opens as she relates the events of her twenty-ninth year, when she and her illegitimate daughter, Emma, lived as domestic help to a prominent Pennsylvania family in 1890.
Clara, whose daughter is the product of a gang-rape some years earlier, witnesses the murder of one of the rapists one wintry morning. With the subsequent murders of two more of the rapists, Clara becomes the prime suspect. Concurrently, an aging drifter, Hank Finley, appears and is hired on the farm where Clara works as a house-girl. Clara bears mounting suspicion that he's the killer. At the same time, she finds herself falling in love with him.
When she learns his true identityHuck Finnshe unravels a man mired in a world far stranger than her own. She relates Finn's story as an older man having forsaken his name, illustrating the damage unsolicited fame might put upon a spirit such as his. Finn's now fifty years old; a victim of Twain's successful publications. He's been driven from the south as racism has hardened into Jim Crow laws. So he's wandered north, to happen upon a distant revenge, and, at long last, true love.
Kimport skillfully weaves central Pennsylvania's folklore into the tale. You will also enjoy the telling of lumbering and seasonal rambling circus shows, which were part of life in that era. One can easily feel as if they themselves are in the rugged rolling hills and beautiful Susquehanna Valley.
This story is Miss Clara Waltz's, as she reflects upon a harrowing time of her life, when her own Hank Finley came to her as a loving companion, in from the cold of an unwanted life cast upon him.
It will tug at your heart.
A Small Harvest of Pretty Days was published by Foremost Press. It can be ordered through local bookstores and at ForemostPress.com, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.
188 pp, $12.97