Authors Showcase: The Spruce Gum Box by Elizabeth Egerton Wilder


The Book: The Spruce Gum Box

The Author: Elizabeth Egerton Wilder

The Story: A family forged by adversity. A community united by dreams. With a bounty on his head, Jed turns to the one man he could trust; a nearby Micmac settlement leader.

As the strife escalates over the border of Maine and the rights to its lucrative lumber industry, the unlikely partnership defies all odds to protect Jed’s son, overcoming bigotry, betrayal, and the unforgiving 1820’s Maine wilderness.

About Elizabeth Egerton Wilder:

Elizabeth Egerton Wilder
Elizabeth Egerton Wilder

As a senior that never gave up on her dream of finding time to write a novel, I launched The Spruce Gum Box on my 72nd birthday. I have been asked if that was part of my bucket list. Hardly. That was the beginning of a new world for me, one that helped me figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Whenever an opportunity arises, I spread the word of aging with abandon where age is just a number with a positive attitude.

My book was inspired by historical events in northern Maine during the early 1800’s. The story took seed in my mind during five years of fascinating research. The characters built slowly and in writing, I enjoyed how they surprised me at times.

My husband of fifty-five years and I relocated from Maine to Pennsylvania, settling in an active senior community. Here, I am able to pull from a life of many experiences and occupations to color my writing. Granite Hearts, the sequel to Spruce Gum Box launched on my 74th birthday and in 2014 at 76, Beneath Mackerel Skies launched. This is the last book of the “Maine at Heart” trilogy.

Life at Simpson Meadows, our family, community activities keep me very active but time is found for research and writing on my WIP.

Review by Martha A. Cheves:

“Jedediah! You and your bastard had better run like the wind and don’t look back!” screamed Benjamin Wingate as he picked up the bench and tossed it into the growing inferno. The baby started to cry, adding to the turmoil of the scene. Jed stumbled a bit, but managed to swing the pack onto his back as he ran for the door. On his way past the little table he grabbed the lock and key and stuffed it in with his mittens. He hesitated for a second to trace his hand over the carved memories of his childhood; the teakettle just missed his head as it flew out the door. He ran north to the woods, doing his best not to slip on the scattered patches of snow and ice. When he reached the bend in the river, he took a breath and looked back at his cherished cabin, fully engulfed in flames, sparks reaching the top of the tallest pines. He could still hear Mr. Wingate screaming obscenities and raving, “Don’t you ever come back! No owner will hire you; count on it! Don’t you ever tell anybody about that bastard! Don’t you ever break our secret! Don’t you ever link that child to my family and me! Do you hear?”

This was the scene that played out as Jedediah Smythe took his son and fled for their lives as they escaped the wrath of Adelaide Wingate’s father. Jed was a walking boss for Wingate as he harvested the timber along the Aroostook River in a land that was claimed by both Canadian and Maine. He had met Addie and the rest of her family upon his arrival from England. Wingate had met young Jed while visiting his own home in England and saw his knack for numbers and business and talked his parents into letting Jed accompany him to this timber wilderness. He just didn’t anticipate he and his daughter Addie falling in love. He especially didn’t expect her to present him with a grandson and shortly after the baby was born he delivered it to Jed and sent Addie back to England.

After the delivery of Benjamin Wingate Smythe to his father, the story takes us to a settlement of Micmac Indians. Jacob and Jed had met some time before when Jacob served as a cook for Wingate’s crew. They hit it off and Jed had no doubts that he would find comfort and help for himself and his son if he could make it to Jacob’s settlement. And as he had expected, he was greeted by everyone with open arms and a promise of protection.

The Spruce Gum Box is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. The love between Addie and Jed was beautiful but the love between Jed and Ben was so strong that nothing could separate nor pull them apart. To top it off, the love and friendship between the Micmac Indians and their two new found family members became a bond for life. And this bond will continue and strengthen as it goes into hardships and even into death.

In school we are taught the basics in history. We aren’t taken into many of the hardships that were involved in creating what we now have. Author Elizabeth Egerton Wilder, through The Spruce Gum Box, has given us a lesson in history that has me wanting to know more. I want to learn more about the Micmac Indians who I’ve never even heard of until now. I want to learn more about the treaty and land grants that took place between the squatters, England and the US. She has made this part of history very interesting and fun to learn.

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