AML Book Club: An August with Anderson

Recently, Jonathan Langford has been throwing around the idea of hosting an AML book club here at Dawning of a Brighter Day. Since I like the idea, I propose we inaugurate the club with a reading of two classic Mormon novels, Nephi Anderson’s Piney Ridge Cottage and The Story of Chester Lawrence, which are celebrating this year their 101st and 100th anniversaries respectively.

What better way to commemorate this Mormon Lit milestone than to revisit these classics?

In my opinion, Piney Ridge Cottage is one of the best examples of Mormon Home Literature fiction and one of Anderson’s triumphs. The Story of Chester Lawrence, its sequel, is also worth reading, especially for the way it ties up the loose ends of Piney Ridge Cottage and glimpses turn-of-the-century international Mormonism and missionary work.

As I understand Jonathan’s vision, participants will spend the month reading these novels and then discuss them here on the blog. My post at the end of the month with host the discussion with some observations and discussion questions.

The books are free and easily accessible via the Internet Archive (here and here). The Story of Chester Lawrence is also available for FREE DOWNLOAD on the Kindle.

What do you say? Are you up for an August with Anderson?

This entry was posted in Announcements and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to AML Book Club: An August with Anderson

  1. Jonathan Langford says:

    I shall endeavor! And thank you, Scott, for stepping up to the plate in the absence of anything more formal than “Hey, wouldn’t this be a cool thing to do? Anyone? Anyone?”

  2. Lisa Torcasso Downing says:

    Nifty idea. I’m in.

  3. A great idea. I’ll do my best to fit these in.

  4. Th. says:


    I already have them on my Nook. May as well read them.

  5. Th. says:


    Here’s what I think was most bold about PRC: How much energy Anderson put into developing Chester as opposed to, say, Glen. That was a pretty risky move.

    • Th. says:


      I doubt I’ll have the second book done by the end of the month, but I’m anxious to get to it and see what happened to Chester. I’ve grown pretty attached to him and his story’s so unresolved. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I was this interested in a sequel.

      Scott: Do you know when writing more about Chester became part of Anderson’s plan? Did he intentionally set PRC up for a sequel or did the thought of a second novel come about later.

      • Scott Hales says:

        That’s a good question I don’t have an answer to.

        My guess is that he realized that Piney Ridge Cottage, as Julia’s story, did not allow him to give Chester’s character the closure he needed and deserved. He had an interesting character, but no way in PRC to tell his story.

        I have more to say on this, but this can be part of our discussion next week.

        • Th. says:


          I figured as much. I just didn’t want to forget that talking point.

          Started CL last night. Happy with the first chapter, but I think I’m finishing another book before I go deeper.

  6. Man plans and proposes, but the “Mormon” missionary system steps in, frustrates the plans, and scatters the propositions to the four winds. ~ “Piney Ridge Cottage,” Chapter XVIII.

    That’s the only sentence of any substance I found. The rest (and especially so for “Chester Lawrence,” which was also packed with Paddywhackery) simply showcased Anderson as the King of deus ex machina.

    • Th. says:


      Whaaa—–? Are you serious? Methinks you arranged the evidence to meet your expectations.

      • Scott Hales says:

        This can also be a point of discussion. I’m excited to hear everyone’s opinions.

      • Sir:

        1. No adult reader is a tabula rasa.
        2. My remarks addressed the writing, not the writer. On this forum, I did not expect to be subjected to an argumentum ad hominem, in response.

        Thank you for your attention.

        • Th. says:


          My apologies.

          I am a bit mystified by your terminology though. The only moment in Piney Ridge I can think of that bears any resemblance to a deus ex machina would be the appearance of the old woman, and I’m unsure what problem she magically solved for the protagonists. I’m sure when you get into details I’ll be more able to follow your argument.

          At the moment, I’m mostly just glad other people took the invitation to read.

        • Perhaps this exercise will help: Reopen PRC. Reread all the passages that have to do with Chester Lawrence, and repeat for his mother. (Use the search engine to speed this up.) Then do the same for Glen Curtis. What happened?

          Did you ever finish reading CL? If not, do so ASAP, but pay close attention, so you’ll be prepared when Scott opens the discussion.

  7. Sarah Reed says:

    I had to leave a section out of my SASS paper about Søren Kierkegaard and Anderson’s (improbable?) plot twists. I think they actually correspond with his theological agenda, in an expressive, outward way, that manifests the absurd things that happen when God is granted agency in the narrative.

    But I’m an Anderson apologists, so take it as you will. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>