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Northern Borders

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  366 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Northern Borders is Mosher’s nostalgic novel of life in northern Vermont’s Kingdom County, as told by a man remembering his boyhood. In 1948 six-year-old Austen Kittredge III leaves his widowed father to live with his paternal grandparents on their farm in the township of Lost Nation. Escapades at the county fair, doings at the annual family reunion and Shakespeare perform...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Doreen Fritz
I LOVE Howard Frank Mosher. A few years ago I read (at the encouragement of my baseball-loving son-in-law) "Waiting for Teddy Williams" and agreed with Dave that this was one of the best baseball books I'd ever read. Not only were the descriptions of baseball (pitching, stategy, love-of-the-game) picture-perfect, but the characters were also drawn with a box-full of color pencils. Deep and varied, real and yet somehow tinged with an aura of historical sentimentality. This book, "Northern Borders...more
Dave
Truly 3.5 stars as many of my choices are in between. Time for Goodreads to update and add half stars. This is my fifth installment of the Mosher series of Kinneson and Kittredge tales, and nearly rose to four-star status but for the lag in the last fourth of the book. Reverent as always in his portrayal of the great white North (the Vermont-Canadian border and the "folk" who abide the realm), the story follows the coming of age of Austen, son of a widower and namesake of his grandfather, a misa...more
Beth
Never heard of this author, picked it up on a whim. Could not have loved it more. Perhaps it was just that I love a good story of farm life in New England in the 40s - and who knew I loved that? But I think it is more because the grandparents were each awesome in their own way and the whole thing reminded me of visiting my own grandparents every summer, feuds and all.
Andrew
This is one of my favorite books. If you start this book and think that it's just a collection of short stories woven together, well, it is, but keep reading. It's more. The writing is beautiful without falling into the sometime tediousness of constant poetry, which lets the tales that make up the book shine. It doesn't tell me things I already know and lets me figure out how I feel about the people for myself. I love the way that things get brought to completion and I don't feel hung out to dry...more
Deb
What a beautifully visual story. Definitely on my "favorites" list!
Annette
The story begins in the summer of 1948 with six-year old Austin Kittredge sent by his widowed father to live with his grandparents at the Kittredge family farm, Lost Nation Hollow, Vermont just a few miles south of the Canadian border. His grandparents are disagreeable and contentious toward each other, yet provide a welcoming and protected home for the boy. The grandparents' marriage is known locally as the 'Forty Years' War.' When their domestic relations with each other reach another frequent...more
Jon
This book, so redolent of Vermont and a certain type of life, is my favorite piece by my favorite Vermont writer, Irasburg resident Howard Frank Mosher. The book tells the story of a young boy whose widowed father sends him to live with his grandparents in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. It’s a bit less well-known than Mosher’s A Stranger In The Kingdom, but it’s a far less by-the-numbers narrative.

The book contains a near-culmination of a thread that has been woven through all of Mosher’s works: t...more
Dominica
A simply superb novel that creates unforgettable characters drawn in stark relief against an equally unforgettable landscape—that of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and, in the latter part of the book, the remote, unmapped parts of Labrador's "Great Corner."

I had the same feeling reading Northern Borders that I had when I first discovered Sinclair Lewis' novels. Both writers know the landscapes of their writing so intimately, and with such loving attention to detail, that I cannot help but feel tha...more
Patti
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
megan
Austen Kittredge is sent to live with his Granfather and Grandmother on their farm in Vermont after his mother dies and his father feels he cannot take care of him on his own. The story progresses in pockets of time from when Austen is six years old to his transition to adulthood at 18...most of the stories, however, happen when Austen is quite young. There is an eccentric cast of players in the Kittredge Family, from his anti-social Grandfather who hates all school teachers to his Egypt-Obsesse...more
Nathaniel
Years after reading it, I still subconsciously think about this book on a regular basis. Or, more accurately, I think about the first half, when the narrator is growing up with his grandparents in rural northern Vermont and constantly watching them argue and have misadventures. However, the book goes downhill as soon as a very important character dies near the middle. Afterward, the second half is less memorable, and, of course, it ends the same way that all Mosher books end: progress came to th...more
Sharneel
Love a narrative? Love family stories? Love quirky families? Enjoy homespun settings? This story was all of this and more. It was a delightful, diversionary read. It rather harkened back to simpler times. It seemed a fine book to read in an autumn escape.
Katharine
A terrific read. Some books peter out at the end, as if the authors expended so much energy on the beginnings and middles that they opted for the nearest exit. Not so this one. The final few pages are as gripping as any in the book. This poignant story of a boy growing up in the mid-20th century in Vermont's northern reaches reads like a loving eulogy for times, places, people, and values long-gone from the Vermont landscape: the hardscrabble farm, the one-room schoolhouse, thrift, discipline, a...more
Jennifer
I really enjoy the novels by this author. His stories are always set in Kingdom County, Vermont and the location is like another character. The characters themselves could not exist in any other time and place. In 1948, Austen Kittredge is six years old when he goes to live with grandparents he had never met in Lost Nation Hollow, near the Canadian border in Vermont. He loves the life of living on a working farm and being outdoors all day long. He often finds himself in between his grandparents...more
Gregg Runburg
After I had read Mosher's Walking to Gatlinburg I had to read everything else our library had by him -- it was that good. I missed this one the first time around, but it might be the best one of all. It's written as a series of vignettes taking place during the years a young Austen Kittredge spends on his grandparents' farm in northern Vermont. Those who have read Mosher's books will know that despite the well-drawn characters, Vermont really is the main one, and a fabulous one it is.

On finishin...more
Tom
This is a coming of age novel about a boy of seven going to live with his grandparents in northern Vermont in the mid 40's to mid 50's. It describes the lives of the Kittredge family members who live there, their strange mountain ways. Think the Hatfields and Mc Coys in the southern mountains. Educated on the ways of the land that they occupy. A real heart-felt novel full of love for the characters that the author portrays. I give it an A-/A.
Bryan
After 4 readings, still one of my favorites.
Zora
Jan 19, 2014 Zora marked it as couldnt-get-into  ·  review of another edition
It's not awful, just a folksie plotless ramble (even the sentences ramble and mosey) that I'm not in the mood for.
sarah
This was a book that my sister Carol, who lives in Vermont, gave to my parents. It's a charming look at life in rural Vermont through the eyes of a young boy who goes to live with his grandparents in the late forties. He sees a Vermont that is isolated, but changing fast. It's similar to Cold Sassy Tree, and I kept thinking I'd like to be reading it with a 12 year old Philip, but those days are long gone!
Lisa
If you’ve not read anything by Mr. Mosher, you are in for a treat. He is a wonderful storyteller and this novel takes you back to experience what it was like to grow up on a farm in Vermont during the 40’s and 50’s. The beauty and harshness of rural life, the relationships that these beautifully drawn characters have with each other and the land grace this work with a quiet intensity.
Aislinn
I really enjoyed this book, BUT it could have ended around page 150-175. It literally is a narrative of this kids WHOLE LIFE growing up in the kingdom. At some point, the story needs a different stimulus than just aging. It needs something cohesive to continue to keep your attention. The last half if this book was difficult to read because of that lake of a common stimulus.
Mike
Jul 25, 2007 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew
This book took me to another place and time. Mosher told it like it was and that's all I expect a writer to do. I didn't know Vermont from atom before I read this one and I'll probably never go there, but at least now I have what seems like an authentic document of what it might have been like for young Austen Kittredge. That's good enough for me.
Sally
Loved this book. Not a complicated read but a wonderful story of a VT Northeast Kingdom family during the early 1900's. Tough, stubborn and resilient. Carrying on life together despite their differences. A boy of 6 goes to live with his grandparents on the family farm and stays until college. Circumstances today dont make people like this anymore.
Karen
Had no inkling of what to expect since I picked this up at a library book sale. Loved, loved, loved it. Filled with unforgettable characters, each chapter is a short story woven into the tale, as narrated by the young boy who is shipped to the wilds of northern Vermont to live with his grandparents. Can't recommend this highly enough.
Jessica
This is one of those books you don't really think about when you aren't reading, but really enjoy when you are...know what I mean? Rich characterization and details, it's a kind of slow detailing of a family's life in the Northeast in the mid 1900s.
Abby
This novel was well written, and was an enjoyable read about a young boy living with his grandparents in Vermont. Many of the lessons learned and the scenes from the book remind me of my own childhood and my father. Rustic living-a passion of mine anyway!
Steve
Not too bad a coming of age story set in far northern Vermont in the 1950s(?) In what would almost work as a collection of short stories, Mosher develops his characters well -- a wholesome kid, a quirky grandmother and grumpy grandfather.
Ashley
A well writen book, without a doubt. I wasn't a huge fan of the ending, but the descriptions were fantastic none the less. And lets just say the Lyle The Pink Crocodile made me cry.
Patricia
Great book! Read it for my book club.... really enjoyed the people in the story and his writing. Want to read more of this author. Kept you wanting to read and was very interesting.
Carly
Not a genre I ever expected myself to appreciate - but despite the backwoods setting, a fine example of character development and subtle, yet resonant perspectives on human relationships.
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Born in 1943. Literature prize from American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1981; fiction fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts; Guggenheim fellow; New England Book Award, 1991; Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, 2005.

Over the course of his writing career, Mosher has developed a reputation as a respected commentator on the often overlooked...more
More about Howard Frank Mosher...
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