Cover image for My life and adventures : a novel
My life and adventures : a novel
Freeman, Castle, 1944-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
viii, 406 pages ; 22 cm
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Fleeing the wreckage of a murky diplomatic job in a Chaotic Latin country, Mark Noon finds himself down-and-out and holed up in a hotel in Mexico. As a last resort, he claims an odd bequest from a long-deceased family friend named Hugo Usher, and comes north to move into a dilapidated hill farmhouse in rural Vermont.

There, Noon begins to rebuild the house and the fragments of his life. He comes to know the complex histories of the memorable residents of Bible Hill, including Orlando Applegate, the lawyer and town father who becomes Mark's mentor in his new life -- and Orlando's troubled daughter, Amanda, who captures his heart and begins to share her life with him.

Mark also discovers the journal of the farm's previous tenant, a bachelor named Claude Littlejohn whose cryptic diary of weather conditions he finds hidden in a trunk in the attic. As Mark pieces together the secret behind Littlejohn's lonely hardscrabble life, he embraces his new community, and learns to thrive there.

My Life and Adventures sets the haunted and transcendental New England of Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson side-by-side with the dope and llama farmers, survivalists, and leaf-peepers of our day. The result is a delightful, unusual novel of one man's estrangement and return.

Author Notes

Castle Freeman, Jr., is the author of the novel Judgment Hill, The Bride of Ambrose and Other Stories, and a collection of essays, Spring Snow. His writing has been published in The Old Farmer's Almanac, Yankee, Atlantic Monthly, and various literary quarterlies. He lives with his wife in Newfane, Vermont

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"Walk lightly over the world, and maybe the world will walk lightly over you." So speaks ne'er-do-well academic Mark Noon, who flees an unnamed South American country in search of refuge and ends up in Bible Hill, Vermont. Having inherited a dilapidated house and possessing no readily identifiable skills, Mark takes a series of odd jobs and begins to practice militant thrift. He meets a sassy lady named Amanda; his neighbor Calabrese, rumored to be in hiding from some serious trouble (he owns attack dogs as big as ponies); and his guide to all things Vermont, Mr. Applegate, whose laconic asides prove almost Zen-like. Mark becomes obsessed with the diary of a previous owner of his house, whose rote catalog of time and temperature he finds oddly comforting. What he learns best is this: "I need no longer be a visitor in my own life." In a distinctive voice, with perfect pitch, Freeman reveals the entrancing musings of his wayward philosopher hero who quotes lyrics from Motown and passages from Hawthorne with equal facility. --Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Freeman's quiet but affecting sophomore novel (after Judgment Hill) follows the hapless former professor Mark Noon, who arrives in the small Vermont village of Bible Hill in the late 1960s to fulfill the demands of his late mother's will. Noon inherits $100,000 and an old house, but the will stipulates that he must live on the land, no small challenge given the batty eccentrics who populate Bible Hill "in a concentration that today would give the town its own page in the DSM." Taking over the former residence of the deceased local hermit Claude Littlejohn, Noon finds a trunk containing the man's diaries and old photos going back to the early years of the century. Noon sees parallels between Littlejohn and himself in Littlejohn's struggles with isolation and personal demons. As Noon becomes more deeply involved in the community, he comes to savor the rhythm of town life, the harsh winters and even his screwball neighbors. The strength of Freeman's work is not just in his skillful depiction of Noon's personal evolution, but in his well-crafted sketches of the Bible Hill crowd, including the opinionated spinster school teacher ("She was pre-Freudian, Miss Drumheller. She believed in good and evil, mostly evil"), the wise-cracking and occasionally just plain wise Mr. Applegate and the rambunctious Amanda, who decides to share Noon's bed on her own terms (" `It's my luck, you know? A whole state full of cowboys, and I have to end up with some kind of Buddhist,' " she self-deprecates). Although the book's momentum is sometimes hampered by flaccid historical tidbits, Freeman's witty and thoughtful observations are bound to charm. (Aug.) Forecast: New England readers will be particularly tickled by this novel and by the jacket photo of a cow-topped weather vane. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Freeman (The Bride of Ambrose and Other Stories, Judgment Hill) again explores the imaginary town of Ambrose, VT. Before secluding himself in a hotel in Mexico, Mark Noon had been working as a diplomat of sorts in a troubled Latin American country. Then one day he receives a phone call from Orlando Applegate, a respected lawyer in Ambrose, who tells him that he has inherited a farmhouse and a decent sum of money from a long-dead family friend. To claim his bequest, Mark moves to Vermont and onto the dilapidated Littlejohn estate, named after its previous tenant farmer. His story is intermingled with Applegate's conversations about the region's history and the philosophy of living; Mark's love affair with Amanda, Applegate's daughter; lists of Vermont geography and population trends; and Littlejohn's terse weather diary entries. As he comes to love the quiet but difficult country life, Mark discovers that he has found his place in the world. Readers who enjoy unconventional narrative will find Freeman's realistic, down-to-earth prose and wry humor rewarding. Recommended primarily for large public libraries; smaller collections will probably find this a luxury.-Cheryl L. Conway, Univ. of Arkansas Lib., Fayetteville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. Where I Lived and How I Came Therep. 1
2. Brute Neighborsp. 17
3. The Dumb Endp. 31
4. World Geographyp. 43
5. Populationp. 51
6. Former Inhabitantsp. 67
7. Wildlifep. 90
8. Treasures of the Snowp. 109
9. Rocksp. 131
10. Politicsp. 136
11. Soundsp. 155
12. Visitorsp. 173
13. Housekeepingp. 195
14. Waterp. 213
15. Higher Lawsp. 219
16. Farmingp. 236
17. Economyp. 254
18. Casualtiesp. 271
19. Roadsp. 293
20. Antiquesp. 301
21. Remarkable Providencesp. 317
22. Real Estatep. 330
23. Blood Sportp. 352
24. Departuresp. 366
25. Biographyp. 384
26. Mr. Usher Enters Heavenp. 404