It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the last state for the Reading New England challenge: Connecticut. Some would argue that this state doesn’t even belong to the region, so influenced is it by the sprawl of New York City. But though it does host a large number of bedroom communities along its commuter corridor, geographically and historically Connecticut is definitely part of New England. One may have to dig a little deeper for those roots, but they are there.
It doesn’t help that some of the state’s most famous authors wrote almost exclusively about other places — Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe, for example. And some of the most well-known books — such as the Babysitter’s Club series, or The Stepford Wives — take place in a rather generic suburban setting. Of course, one could argue that representing the epitome of American suburbia is one of the distinctions of Connecticut, but I hold that there’s more to be found in out-of-the-way corners.
There are the wonderful Crosswicks Journals of Madeleine L’Engle, about her family’s life in an old farmhouse. There’s Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, in which a teenager undertakes a brave journey with her young siblings from Massachusetts to Maryland. There are authors I had never realized were from Connecticut, but who have set a small but significant part of their work there: Tomie dePaola and Eugene O’Neill, to name but two. And new releases like Mystic Summer, A Study in Charlotte, and The Children seem to be breathing some fresh life into the region.
So I hope you’ll share your Connecticut discoveries with us, as we bring this amazing year of exploration to a close. And looking ahead to next month, I hope you’ll consider joining in the readalong of Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. At this time of crisis, I’m looking forward to delving into our history and seeing something of how we got here.