Ruth Moore Books in Print

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The Weir

The Weir, written in 1943, takes place in a small island fishing village during the years before World War II and is set against a backdrop of hard work and struggle. Ruth Moore brilliantly and authentically captures the characteristics of coastal Maine and its people while using them to write a story of universal human drama featuring two primary families who feud, gossip, and struggle while being battered by the relentless tides of change sweeping over their community and their entire way of life.

 
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Spoonhandle

Published in 1946, Spoonhandle spent fourteen weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and was made into the movie Deep Waters. Set during the Great Depression in a small Maine fishing community, Spoonhandle explores the drama of small-town living. The book follows the lives of the Stilwell family and their neighbors as they navigate the changes forced upon their little island by wealthier “summer people” looking to buy property.  Moore beautifully weaves together all the hallmarks of a great story: romance, tragedy, and family conflict. Although a work of fiction, Spoonhandle tells the real story of the economic and cultural divides that faced small towns all over America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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The Fire Balloon

In the small Maine town known as Granite Hook to the rich summer people and Scratch Corner to the natives, young Theo Sewell chases the unattainable beauty that she has witnessed at a fireworks display. Theo and the rest of her family, including the 80-year-old Gram Sarah, are depicted in vivid detail as they face the difficult challenges ahead of them. Although first published in 1948, The Fire Balloon still impresses readers as an entrancing study of Maine fishermen and the seascape they have made their home. 

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Candlemas Bay

Published in 1950 as Moore’s fourth novel, Candlemas Bay focuses on the daily struggles of the Ellises, a family that has successfully fished local waters for two hundred years. Now, however, the current generations—from Grampie Jebron to widowed daughter-in-law Jen to grandson Jebby—struggle with change and hard times. While Jen must take summer boarders to keep her family afloat, Jeb must choose between school and his family's fishing trade. As in her other novels, Ruth Moore uses detailed day-to-day lives to build characters of depth and tell a universal story of courage, heartbreak and love that, despite the hardships, is ultimately warm and moving.

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Time's Web:
Poems by Ruth Moore

At times haunting, beautiful, nostalgic, and humorous, Time's Web contains 21 of Ruth Moore's poems. Published in 1972, this collection highlights Moore's incredible eye for detail and her ability to weave images and themes together. These poems include "The Ghost of Phebe Bunker", "Overheard in a Bar," and "Come All Ye Murderers, All." 

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The Tired Apple Tree:
Poems and Ballads

This 1990 classic includes some of Ruth Moore's most insightful writing. The Tired Apple Tree boasts a total of 39 poems and ballads from Ruth Moore, including "Rocks," "The Offshore Islands," and "Remembrance of a Deserted Coastal Village." Moore finished writing the book shortly before she passed away in 1989 and it was published posthumously by Blackberry Books in 1990.

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When Foley Craddock Tore Off My Grandfather's Thumb 

This short story collection features 22 stories from the mind of Ruth Moore as well as 6 from her literary partner Eleanor Mayo. Moore's stories include "Pennies in the Water" and "Farmer Takes a Newspaper," while Mayo's include "The Day Manuel Came" and "The Owner of the Apples."

Coming Soon

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Voices Off the Ocean

Published in 2020, this new collection of Ruth Moore's work features excerpts from Moore’s novels, ballads, and poetry that showcase her brilliant writing and prove its staying power and influence on regional writing today. The collection includes powerful descriptions of the Maine seaside and its inhabitants, human or otherwise. It is edited by Dean Lunt, a writer who (like Ruth Moore) grew up in a Maine island fishing village.

 
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Second Growth

Ruth Moore’s richly textured novel follows the lives of Hillville residents and the sometimes sullen, resentful violence that pervades the down and out town. Unbeknownst to anyone, a doctor adds an abandoned baby to the twin brothers Amy Randall has just given birth to, sparking a series of events filled with confusion and longing. Moore successfully explores a dramatic range of human experience from the innocence of childhood to the wisdom of age, from the sweetness of young love to the sorrow of death in both the body and the spirit. In this once prosperous Maine town, everyone is now desperately looking for the revitalization spawned by a second growth.

 

Currently Out of Print

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Speak to the Winds

Three generations after Chin Island was inhabited by a bustling community of laborers, only a few families remain. A feud begins on Christmas Day, troubling the remaining inhabitants as they gossip and fan the flames of conflict. Two warring factions collide as the kindly Elbridge Gilman attempts to stop them along with his quick-tempered partner, Liseo MacGimsey. Readers will enjoy Ruth Moore's excellent descriptions of gales, dashing waves, and New England cooking. Speak to the Winds was originally published in 1956 and remains a classic that draws glowing reviews from its readers.

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Jeb Ellis of Candlemas Bay

Jeb Ellis returns in this abridged version of Candlemas Bay, Ruth Moore's very successful early novel. In this story (published in 1952), Jeb's desire to become a fisherman leads him into a coming-of-age tale complete with disaster, a difficult emotional journey for Jeb and his mother, wisdom offered by Grampie, the last of the old fishermen, and no shortage of courage. 

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A Fair Wind Home

A Fair Wind Home is Ruth Moore's well-crafted version of a historical novel. Based in eighteenth century Boston Harbor, this book tells the story of the salty pirate Jake Ringgold and the woman who bests him, Lizabeth. The rest of the Ellis family also meets their various destinies--both tragic and joyful--through a series of emotional challenges. Ruth Moore offers a story packed with historical significance, a lovely cast of characters, and a fast-paced plot characteristic of her writing.

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The Walk Down Main Street

Published in 1960, The Walk Down Main Street explores what happens when a river town in Maine goes mad over its school basketball team. Ruth Moore covers basketball thrills, coming of age, and the reality of small town inhabitants along with her usual razor-sharp wit and honest depictions of daily life. Readers will be able to recognize their own neighbors, coaches, parents, and friends in this tale.

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The Sea Flower

In this 1965 book, Hurricane Fanny becomes the instrument for joining the lives of two runaway orphans, Marney Lessard and Liz Bigelow, on a battered yacht named Sea Flower. Marney and Liz have both fled from difficult lives caused by adult indifference and injustice. Their time on the Sea Flower and after they are washed ashore becomes a journey full of genuinely good people, ancient lobstermen, evil families, and emotional salvation.

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The Gold and Silver Hooks

The Gold and Silver Hooks takes its title from the Renaissance poet Ariosto's work "Orlando Furioso" in which Astolpho arrives on the moon and finds bribes hung on gold and silver hooks. The theme of venality haunts Abby Randall Plummer, Ruth Moore's protagonist, as she struggles with her sense of integrity while dealing with the corrupting influences of others. Abby's story is tender, violent, warm, and satisfyingly familiar to those who have appreciated the vivid beauty of the ocean or New England.

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Lizzie and Caroline

In Lizzie and Caroline, published in 1972, a young girl who was abandoned by her parents struggles to create a better life for herself and her brother by fleeing to an unoccupied cottage on the opposite shore. Meanwhile, a refurbished ship tries and fails to weather a storm at sea. The eventual union of ship and young girl makes Lizzie and Caroline an engrossing and wonderfully nostalgic novel.

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The Dinosaur Bite

It is said that the title of The Dinosaur Bite comes from Stewart Brand's words: "The way to be safe from dinosaur bites is to be little, fast, furry, warm-blooded and smart." This 1976 book truly does have bite--an icy, salty bite that Will McCarren must survive. After fleeing the pressures of a busy, materialistic society, McCarren and his six children must learn to survive the small town suspicion and corruption of Cross Island. They will soon find that this island life is equally as intense as the city in many unexpected ways.

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Sarah Walked Over the Mountain

On one cold November day, Sarah Thomas Scott discovered that her sea-roving husband of many years has maintained a second wife and home. In response, she packed up her food and her kids and eventually made her way to Boston. Her legendary journey takes a central role in this 1979 novel as her descendants navigate the geography and politics in Sarah's namesake of Thomasville, Maine. In Sarah Walked Over the Mountain, the past truly does come back to haunt (or help?) us.

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Cold as a Dog and the Wind Northeast

Published in 1958, Cold as a Dog and the Wind Northeast is a collection of ballads about the New England coast. Ruth Moore explores long-lost legends and the wonders of Maine creatures and myths in a macabre, eerie fashion. These tales include "The Ballad of Long-Gone Jones," notable for its gorgeous imagery, and "The Ballad of Tryphosa's Husband," a grizzled tale of loneliness and loss.