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More Reviews for Robert W

Books

Praise for PROSPECTS

Bill Bushnell,
CentralMaine.com

Mining for gemstones and minerals began in Maine 200 years ago, driven by dreams of great wealth hidden beneath the earth’s surface. Mining has always been risky, dangerous and economically unpredictable, especially as portrayed in Robert Spencer’s novel “Prospects.”

 

Spencer lives in Waterford and this is his second novel, following “The Spinster’s Hope Chest.” This is an ambitious, complex novel covering the years 1896-1903, split between the mining history of Oxford County and the Victorian-era, soap-opera dramas of working-class families.

 

The story combines mining history, business deals, family relationships, courtship, romance, tragedy, deceit, heartache, suspense and even murder, providing an exciting tale. Spencer also uses clever foreshadowing, so readers must pay attention to catch clues to what might happen next.

 

Canadian miner Clarence Potter shows up in Maine in 1896, full of ideas for getting rich mining for gemstones and rare earth minerals. He is hired to mine for feldspar, mica, quartz and tourmaline, and enjoys some success. But Potter is an enigma, something about him just doesn’t seem right.  He is a widower with three children, looking for a new wife, and settles on 20-year-old Lottie, a young woman swept off her feet by this worldly man’s attentions. An abrupt elopement and wedding sets off a bitterly contentious family drama with unpleasant results.

 

Meanwhile, Aphia Stevens, a supposed widow, is nuts, threatening neighbors and a former rival for her husband’s hand. Her farm abuts one of Potter’s mines and escalating trouble ensues, including an accidental shooting death and suspicions of multiple murder.

 

Spencer’s portrayal of southern Maine’s pegmatite mining history is fascinating — the business of mining, investing, financing, products and the frequent risk of failure. The ending, however, is sudden and surprising, capping an entertaining family and business saga.

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