cover image Once Upon a Time on Thebbanks

Once Upon a Time on Thebbanks

Cathie Pelletier. Viking Books, $19.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-670-82776-3

It is April 1969, in Mattagash, Maine (the setting for Pelletier's first novel, The Funeral Makers ), and the residents of the small, inbred community are slowly emerging from their cabin fever after five months of snow. This irreverent and bawdy novel tracks the town's most boisterous citizens as they become aware of the social event of the year: the unlikely marriage of Amy Joy Lawler, descendant of Mattagash's Protestant founder, to Jean-Claude Cloutier, Catholic, with an unacceptable French Canadian background. The crafty residents of northern Maine approach the wedding with varying goals. To bankrupt (and randy) motel owner Albert Pinkham, it's a chance to fill his cash register. To the Ivy family, wealthy relatives from Portland, it occasions a family reunion and a time to cement strained relationships. To the huge and larcenous Gifford clan, it presents a chance to steal out-of-state hubcaps and filch wedding gifts. On the day of the wedding a volatile mixture of Maine's finest and most tacky families meets in church--with astonishing results. In spite of the novel's raucous tone, it is apparent that Pelletier views her feisty Mainers with deep affection. (Oct.)