The Lumby Lines
by Gail Fraser

New American Library, 2007. ISBN 978-0-451-22139-1.
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Posted on 08/28/2008

Fiction: Mainstream

Pam and Mark Walker want a change from their fast-paced working lives in Virginia. Every year, they take a four-week trip to Wheatley. The pair drives through nearby Lumby every Sunday of their getaway to visit their secret cove near Lake Woodrow. In The Lumby Lines, Gail Fraser introduces us to the couple on a particular visit that provides them with more than a beautiful view. They discover the ruins of Montis Abbey and decide to take the risk of a lifetime. The Walkers leave their lives in Virginia behind, purchase the charred Abbey, and pour their life savings into reviving the landmark's historic beauty and opening it as a bed-and-breakfast: the Montis Inn.

Lumby is a rural, close-knit community in the Pacific Northwest. The townspeople are curious about the Walkers but also suspicious and at times unwelcoming. The local newspaper publishes a scathing call-to-arms, claiming that the Montis Inn would adversely affect the community and that because the Walkers were outsiders they did not have Lumby's best interest at heart. Pam and Mark work hard to make their dream of opening a bed-and-breakfast—and getting Montis Inn reinstated as a National Historic Landmark—a reality. Hard labor and money can accomplish anything. But can the Walkers gain the trust and acceptance of the people of Lumby needed to make their endeavor a true success?

The Lumby Lines provides an amusing look at small-town America. The clippings from the newspaper The Lumby Times that are sprinkled throughout the novel are engaging and hilarious. You are sure to appreciate Fraser's portrayal of small-town dynamics, the way everyone knows everyone else and always knows his neighbor's business. I am a small-town girl myself, and this book makes me remember the simpler, quieter life that lies tucked away in towns all across the American countryside.

Gail Fraser is a New Yorker who earned her BA in English from Skidmore University, her MBA from the University of Connecticut, and completed graduate work at Harvard. She was a successful business woman before becoming a novelist. Fraser is the author of the Lumby series and has, along with her husband, built their own version of Lumby on Lazy Goose Farm in upstate New York. The Lumby Lines is the first in the Lumby Series. Visit the series website.

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