Monday, October 18, 2010

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin (2009)

My friend and colleague Michele L. is an ace at finding Scranton and Wilkes-Barre references in books because she has eagle eyes and reads everything. She recently told me about a number of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre references in the 2009 novel The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Havertown native Joyce Magnin.

Set in fictional Bright's Pond, PA, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow tells the story of a reclusive woman, Agnes Sparrow, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda. Agnes Sparrow prays and when Agnes prays things happen, setting the small town (and its residents) aflutter--then a new town sign is erected with Agnes's name (which makes Agnes aflutter--and angry).

The Scranton references occur on the following pages:

p. 9 "Milton and his wife, Darcy, were fresh from the big city, if you can call Scranton a big city."

p. 108
"'Good news, Agnes,' he said. 'Your sign is all finished and on its way to Scranton. Be here the day after tomorrow.'"

p. 109
"The sign arrived that Thursday on the back of a long flatbead truck with the name Scranton Sign Company in gold letters on the side of the cab."

p. 143
"'How did this come about?' I asked. 'The Pearly Gates only go to big towns like Scranton and Philadelphia.'"

p. 161 "'Stu was down in Scranton making certain they got the name right this time,' Boris said."

Wilkes-Barre is mentioned in the following two passages in the book:

p. 161 "'I have family in Wilkes-Barre so I spent some time there--got a sister and two nieces.'"

p. 227
"The funeral, one of the saddest I had ever attended, took place down in Wilkes-Barre two days after Easter Sunday."

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. Click here to place a hold; if you'd rather read the large print edition, click here.

Much thanks to mega-genius Michele L. for this reference.

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