Excerpt from The Green Age of Asher Witherow by M. Allen Cunningham, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Green Age of Asher Witherow

By M. Allen Cunningham

The Green Age of Asher Witherow
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Oct 2004,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2005,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"But Mrs. Witherow, your son has trespassed—"

"And as far as I can tell, Mr. Boggs, you're trespassing now: coming uninvited onto my property to point your finger at my son."

However many times Boggs came up against it, mother's iron will never failed to stun him. And though in all legality our house and the land it stood on was the company's property, not ours, invariably he'd be too rattled to recall this fact, let alone address it.

"Now if you'll let pass Asher's infraction," mother would say, "I'll let pass yours, so long as you make haste at once."

And away along the railroad Boggs would go, as soon as he'd made an awkward bow.

After such a scene, word of mother's brusqueness would travel all along the circuit of company employees. From the mouth of Boggs it would pass down to the floor of the shaft within the afternoon, finally reaching father's ears in mutated form. The events having swollen to the level of hyperbole, he would come home at night ready to admonish her.

The other workmen chided father for his wife's distemper. He confessed his predicament to mother, begged her to allay her eccentricity a little. To this she always listened quietly, her jaw locked, and father never knew whether she meant to take his dilemma to heart.

David Witherow was a young man when he came to Nortonville. Narrow-chested and wiry, he worked with a gritted nerve at the longest and deepest of rooms in the vein. He wore a mustache and long beard and spoke in a hushed, bearded voice, peering through eyes the jade hue of polished quartz. His hands were wide and tough as paws, the skin flecked black on the fingers and wrists, tiny flakes of coal spotting the knuckles. Coal followed the sweat furrows in his brow too, streaking beneath the skin in faint lines like letter paper. Beside mother he cut the figure of an unlikely mate. She was a thin woman, but big-boned and hardy. She wore by habit a vague scowl which spread clear in the most luminous smile when he spoke kindly to her.

My parents had come from Monmouthshire, Wales, to the Diablo hills with all the high ideals of people in exodus. Jolting in the westbound stage from Stockton, they watched the mountain swell upon the horizon—the sun cresting the peaks like a burning bush. In the Carbondale valley they found a ragtag township. A new railroad snaked through high grasses, the tracks trestling up to a humpbacked bunker house. A few wood-and-nail structures leaned along the main street amongst a few fine brick ones. Noah Norton's house towered on a hillside beyond the smokestack, and a number of miners' cottages dotted the edges of the valley.

Mr. Norton himself secured my parents a room in George Scammon's lodging house, and the next morning father went to work as a haulier on the Mount Hope Slope. Within the year, as the mines proved stalwart and Nortonville's population flourished, hammers set to ringing on the skeleton of the new Exchange Hotel. Father moved to the Black Diamond shaft to work laborer on the Clark Vein. Six months later he made miner there. This was his job when I was born. By that time he and mother had befriended a number of other Welsh. They attended weekly Bible readings in a neighbor's house and father frequented the small saloon, to the protests of his wife.

They secured a wooden company house, a sturdy place with a broad front stoop and six narrow windows. It stood at the northern end of the valley, at the head of Main Street and below School House Hill. Fifty feet east of the front door, the Black Diamond Railroad ran north through the cleavage of two camelback hills to slither six miles down to New York Slough. Otherwise, the house was surrounded by a clutch of company homes, which all stood mutely amid lisping grasses. A wide fur of chaparral spread up the hills on the west, and down among the shops and meeting houses stood a few eucalyptus trees.

From The Green Age of Asher Witherow by M. Allen Cunningham, pages 1-14.  All rights reserved, no part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Unbridled Books.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.