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Granddaughter of "The Pinelands Witch," daughter of the self-styled Wizard of the Pines, and with powers of her own, eleven-year-old Florilla Munion finds herself abandoned deep in the New Jersey Pinelands. Rescued by the itinerant Dr. Peace, she is taken to Benderville, a model mill town in the heart of the Pines owned by the doctor's old friend, the eccentric, progressive Benjamin Bender. Benjamin Bender takes Florilla in, and she becomes his pupil when he discovers her talent for his beloved Latin and Greek. But Benderville is only the beginning of Florilla's journey. Her abusive father is a constant threat. Jack Munion knows that his daughter has abilities that would be an asset to his traveling act. As Florilla nears her eighteenth birthday, Benjamin Bender, afraid he can no longer keep the magician at bay, tries to marry her off. Devastated by this betrayal, Florilla runs away. Deep in the woods, she comes across Colin Drysdale, a young English botanist who has injured his leg. She bandages his wound and paddles him home in his canoe. Home is Woodland Place, a mansion at the edge of the Pines that houses a constant stream of artists and intellectuals. Florilla is persuaded to stay. Over a summer of collecting native orchids together, Florilla and Colin fall in love. When circumstances force them apart, the wizard returns to kidnap his daughter. The story wends its way from the New Jersey Pinelands to the mill towns of Massachusetts as Florilla's gift for healing becomes the center of Jack Munion's traveling show. Separated by time and distance, Colin and Florilla continue to search for each other. The novel explores the time period from 1848 to 1857 when various thinkers, reformers, and philosophers speculated on the best ways to organize life and work. Its portrayal of life in the Pines and on the road during those years is both fascinating and eye opening.
|Plexus Publishing, Inc.
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About the Author
Perdita Buchan is the author of three previous novels, including The Carousel Carver, and a work of history, Utopia, New Jersey: Travels in the Nearest Eden. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Ladies’ Home Journal, Fiction Network, House Beautiful, The New York Times, and The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications.