Books by State: Massachusetts

A Middling Sort by [Jud Widing]
A Middling Sort by Jud Widing

“Fidget’s Mill was a town full of secrets, populated by people who had no idea how to keep them.”

It is a time of revolution in the American colonies, an epoch in which men of exceptional talent and ambition agitate to reshape the course of human events. Their names will pass into legend: Washington. Adams. Jefferson. Hamilton. Madison. Monroe.

Denton Hedges is there too, and he’s trying his best.

In the inauspicious year of 1767, he volunteers to visit a no-account Massachusetts seaside town called Fidget’s Mill. His goal is simple: secure a non-importation agreement, so that the colonies might adopt a stronger negotiating position with England. There’s no reason for him to get mixed up with a forbidden love triangle, a witch, demons, or the three moneyed families jockeying for control of the town. And yet…

He really is trying his best.” — Amazon’s Summary

Denton Hedges is a man who tries to do the best for his family and to leave a lasting, positive impact on the world. The thing is, he just keeps messing it up. And honestly, who can’t relate to that? Poor Denton finds himself caught up in all manners of kooky situations when all he wanted was to convince the people of Fidget’s Mill to go along with the non-importation agreement. But he finds that Fidget’s Mill is not at all a “no-account” little town, and his mission will not be easy in the slightest. He finds instead that Fidget’s Mill is crawling with mysterious magic, manipulation, and prejudices all so strong that he very well could be swept away by them. Oh, and he also finds a demon turkey who he actually becomes almost friends with.

Ultimately, Denton’s story is a story about the human condition and the unfairness of it all. A line from the book that I would use to summarize is: “The fact, written into every atom of the universe, is as follows: Nothing makes any sense, ever. Things just happen.” Denton could plan everything he wanted to say to make his case, he could try his best to fit in and relate to every member of the town, but he can’t plan for their intricacies: their reactions, their personalities, their prejudices, their lives. This mission of his is one of the main aspects of his life at the moment, but it is far from holding an important spot in the minds of the towns-folk because they have their own goals, missions, and dramas taking center-stage in their lives. This is something we can all take a moment to acknowledge about everyone around us. Things that seem so big and important to us can seem small and insignificant to another, and we can’t force something to take a larger importance in another person’s life.

Jud Widing is one of my favorite authors. His writing is just so entertaining and engaging, full of funny aside quips and hilarious dialogue. There are so many quotable lines in his books. For example, from this one: “God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, and said Whoops: and God brushed it under the sofa with His foot.” I had the pleasure of meeting Jud Widing and having a short conversation with him at a book fair (which is where I first got his books and ultimately fell in love with his writing). From that short interaction, I could tell he’s not only a great writer, but also a great person. I’d highly recommend any of his books, and I can hint that this isn’t going to be the only book by him that will be a part of my books by state reading challenge.

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