Lila & Theron: Seven Days Review

Lila & Theron

Bill Schubart, Charles Michael Publishing, 192 pages. $19.95.

To many children, this independence is a blessing; but Theron, already orphaned once, feels more alone.

Clearly, Hinesburg’s Bill Schubart hasn’t kept quite busy enough offering commentary on Vermont Public Radio and serving on the boards of numerous local cultural organizations (including the Vermont Arts Council). In the past nine years, he’s also produced seven books, among them two collections of stories from his Lamoille County childhood. Schubart returns to that turf in this slim novel that chronicles the lengthy marriage of a modest dairy farming couple, born around the turn of the 20th century. Theron comes from a household of sorrow: His mother died giving birth to him at 19, leaving his father a broken alcoholic. No wonder he gravitates to the levelheaded Lila, who helps him milk cows on his ancestral land until the mechanization of the dairy industry forces them to sell off their herd.

In the interim, not much happens, but that’s the point. A memorial to lost ways of life, the narrative can occasionally get preachy, but, at its strongest, when Schubart focuses on his grounded characters, the book might remind readers of Gustave Flaubert’s “A Simple Heart.” And we defy anyone not to get misty at the end.

— M.H.