Princess of the Everglades

Charles Mink, Author Pineapple Press $16.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-910923-98-9
This distinctly Southern first novel stars mannerly Sheila and tomboyish Skeezix Quintaine, 10-year-old geniuses known as the Amazing Mandolin Twins of Kirk Quintaine's Progressive Mandolin Orchestra. Kirk, their unaffectionate father, is obsessed with his invention, ``Indian Jazz'': ragtime versions of American Indian songs played exclusively on mandolins and sung by his wife, Lily, dressed as a squaw. On the road from North Dakota in September 1926, the Orchestra is trapped in Fort Myers, Fla., in a hurricane. The twins are in a rowboat heading toward safety when Sheila falls overboard and is swept into the Everglades; taken in by Seminole Indians, she awaits rescue and manages to shed some of her prim demeanor. Unfortunately, the likably weird personalities in Kirk's troupe cannot carry the novel, which is burdened by underdeveloped portrayals of the Indians and bland characterizations of the famous personages who join the search for Sheila, among them an 80-year-old Thomas Edison, his admiring friend Henry Ford, a moody Charles Lindbergh and, most ridiculously, Al Capone. (May)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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