18 October 2023

Book Review: The Cut by John Wemlinger

The Cut by John Wemlinger

John Wemlinger's Michigan Notable Book selection "The Cut" is one I found interesting especially because it takes place in northwestern Michigan. It is in Manistee County, Michigan, where my Fredricks and Graf families settled.

The Cut tells the story of two warring factions, the lumber industry, and the homesteaders. Two children, one from each faction, meet and fall in love. Alvin, a farmer, and Lydia, the daughter of an influential businessman, meet in 1870. The Cut tells their love story woven between the historical events of the time. 

The businessmen want to build a dam powered sawmill. The sawmill affects the landowners’ farms and floods them affecting their ability to make a living. Lawsuits are filed and the reader gets a glimpse of what the farmers were dealing with at the time. A lot of the book tells the contentiousness of the time.

The Lumbering Boom 1870-1890 exhibit at the Michigan History Museum in LansingMichigan (United States). Permission and Photography by Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Manistee, Michigan was the center of the lumber industry in the area during this period. The story is fiction with nonfiction history told. It is a great Michigan history read. The characters are believable, and the story captures the reader's interest. History is a bonus.

What is the Cut? It is a man-made channel that links Lake Michigan to the village of Onekama and Portage Lake. The channel is the cut.

My great grandfather, Johann August Fredricks, worked at a sawmill in Manistee saving his money to buy a farm. Having spent a lot of time in the area visiting family and doing family history research led me to visualize what the time was like. Wemlinger's detailed descriptions take the reader back in time.

Does Alvin and Lydia's love life overcome all the obstacles in their way? You will have to read the book to find out.  

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