Giddyap Tin Lizzie


Book cover

Cover design by Little Creek Press. Antique car image courtesy Mineral Point Historical Society.

When a sibling unexpectedly inherits his grandfather’s dairy farm, Will O’Shaughnessy turns to selling Fords in rural, pre-World War I southwestern Wisconsin. But over the next two decades, even as his automobile business booms and he raises a family with his true love, Mary, Will yearns to return to farming.

Meanwhile, the small town of Ashley Springs weathers the war, the booming 20s, prohibition and the Great Depression. There’s family drama in devastating illness and an estranged, alcoholic brother. Then, as automobile sales plunge in the deepening 1930s economic crisis, Will sees a reason to finally trade cars for cows. But can he convince his wife and daughters to follow him back out of town?

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Silver medal, Great Lakes best regional fiction, Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), 2013.
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In early 20th Century southwestern Wisconsin, a young man could dare to dream. This first in a planned series of novels follows Will O’Shaughnessy, who at 25 makes the wrenching decision, not uncommon in his and successive generations, to walk away from the family farm. His grandfather’s farm has been left to a sibling and Will can’t earn enough working on his father’s farm to support the girl he wants to marry. In a leap of faith that ultimately pays off, he buys an automobile dealership.

Thorpe does a great job of linking Will’s personal and business trajectory to the times, as his dealership flails during World War I, booms in the 1920s and bottoms out in the 1930s, forcing him to consider leaving it all behind to return to farming. Meanwhile, Will matures from an idealistic bachelor to a level-headed, middle-aged husband and father.

A memorable cast of characters emerges over two decades, including Mary, his wife, who is ahead of her time as an intelligent, career-minded school teacher; three well-grounded, close-knit daughters; two brothers, one successful and aloof, the other a war veteran and alcoholic family black sheep; and a variety of neighbors, longtime friends and business people who add interest to the fictional small town of Ashley Springs, Wisconsin. Some of Thorpe’s best writing is color: pitching hay into horse-drawn wagons before a coming thunderstorm; the inner sanctums of a small-town tavern and, later, a prohibition-era speakeasy; the underside of a Model T; the messy, awe-inspiring birth of a colt; a marriage proposal in a picture-perfect secluded park; and a 1916 honeymoon to young Madison, Wisconsin.

Will’s common sense, that helps him avoid the 1929 stock market frenzy and bust, is an always relevant message. A wide-open conclusion and abundant depth of characters and place lay a solid ground for future sequels. A richly wistful, skillfully-penned, epic tale of a bygone era whose economic lessons hauntingly mirror today’s troubled times. Readers will yearn for more. — Midwest Book Review

…a very well-written story with loads of plot twists and turns and character development that will propel the reader through the pages.—David Compton, New York Times best selling author.

Thorpe doesn’t disappoint as the story goes on; he’s a native of the Badger State himself, and he clearly knows it and its people well. It shows in his novel, which features well-developed characters that ring true. One running, character-based gag, for example, is that Will, a successful Ford dealer, still prefers to ride around in his horse and buggy. As a result, readers will grow to love Will and Mary and the girls, and cheer as they arrive at the farm that Will has wanted for so long.

An engaging first installment in a family saga that will have readers eagerly awaiting the next three. — Kirkus Reviews 


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Harold Thorpe Releases First Novel
Peninsula Pulse, Aug. 31, 2012