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September 2012

The sad day dawned when I read the last volume of the Staggerford Chronicles. In the sequence of the novels, the final one is The New Woman (2005). But I got them out of order and the last one I read was the Staggerford Flood (2002). staggerfrod flood.jpg

Recommended for adults.

Miss Agatha McGhee does it again. The waters rise and so does she, rising to the occasion in ways that surprise even her. I am sorry to say that this ends my Hassler reading, having completed all of his eleven novels. I heard Garrison Keillor mention him on the Writer's Almanac podcast years ago and sought out his work. Found it and loved it.

I have learned a lot about forbearance, patience, pain, charity, purpose, self-edification, and more from Fredrick, Simon, Miles, Larry, Beverly, Janet, Lillian, Leland, Lolly, Imogene, Frank, and of course, most of all, from that new woman, Agatha: never give up, never surrender. By Grapthor's hammer!

When I read the list of his novels, they come alive with the characters: The sullen grocery store clerk, the lost delinquent, the two hunters, the anti-IRA Irish priest, the zombie dean, the ebullient radio talk show host, the empty alcoholic artist, the would-be novelist, the destructive teenager, the numbed Vietnam veteran, the broken woman ... The list goes, on and on. Quite a crew in this world Hassler's created.

In Hassler's hands Staggerford is as large as life.

Here are the Staggerford Chronicles.

Staggerford (1977)
Simon's Night (1979)
The Love Hunter (1981)
A Green Journey (1985)
Grand Opening (1987)
North of Hope (1990)
Dear James (1993)
Rookery Blues (1995)
The Dean's List (1998)
The Staggerford Flood (2002)
The Staggerford Murders (2004)
The New Woman (2005)

The only one I do not recommend is The Staggerford Murders. They do not have to be read in order. Some characters recur but not all of them, and some titles, like Grand Opening, stand alone.

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