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                                Etched in Granite: Historical Fiction Series
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                                                                                                         Reviews are Vital

 Wonderful series!. I don't reread books but this one I'm wanting to reread. (C.C., Facebook Post) July 2020

I've read all of these books recently they are very good.
Very interesting books and a cast of characters you will love, definitely a favorite read. (Sandy S., Facebook Post) July 2020

One of the most poignant books I've ever read. (Sue C., Facebook Post) July 2020

 Loved this series! It's a series that'll stay with you yrs later. (Cle0, Facebook Post) July 2020

I love these characters. They are real to me. Unforgettable. (M.M., Facebook Post) June 2020

I love this series. I am eager for book four. I read the first book twice.  (G.S., Facebook Post) June 2020


 It’s been a long time since I cried over a book’s ending. The history of what happened to people who couldn’t take care of themselves or young girls and women who were pregnant and unwed is shameful.  (G. Baker, Facebook Post) May 2020

Oh my goodness, I finished the book this afternoon and the tears kept flowing. I hadn’t known that there actually were “poor houses”.
(Mary C., Facebook Post) May 2020 

 I highly recommend this series. It tells untold stories we need to understand about the hardships of the past. (Joan F., Facebook Post) Spring 2020


I am counting the days until the release of "Down from the Tree."
     I enjoyed your book talk this afternoon. Looking forward to reading The Angels' Lament. J. Knowles

        Can't wait to read book three! S.B.B.

As soon as 'Down from the Tree' is available, I plan to buy the series. I can't wait.  S. Duffield-Lodge 

     Great books - sad commentaries on our past. Sharon
    I heard you speak this summer at the Meredith NH. Library. I loved the two books I bought and both brought tears to my eyes. I will be so excited to read the next book. N. Corliss

                                            Down from the Tree - Book Three


What character development & historical insight—-Down from the Tree - mesmerizing from beginning to end. Mj- you wove such rich & revealing experiences in the dynamic interactions. Bravo. -B. Ladd


Struggling through hard times...
This book is all about a young boy named Samuel, his strong bond with his mother, and the hardships he endures living on a poor farm in New Hampshire during the late 1800s.
The author has a distinctive voice in storytelling, transporting the reader to the drama that takes place in the lives of these characters. I especially enjoyed how Samuel would often climb his favorite tree to find refuge and ponder the circumstances of his life. The presence of crows is a clever story element as well.
Oh, and by the way, I think we can all use a doll without facial features called Hope. - V. Fransen

Down from the Tree is more than just an interesting story. It is an experience.
Down from the Tree is the third novel in the Etched in Granite series, set on a poor farm in NH in the 1800s. One great thing about this book is the story stands nicely on its own. But I highly recommend reading the first two books to get the full effect. This story hooks the reader on page one with engaging characters and vivid descriptions of the poor farm conditions. Ms. Pettengill is a masterful storyteller, encouraging us to see the wretched conditions on the farm through the eyes of a young boy. The biggest challenge is putting the book down—it is a great read from start to finish.  Amazon Review

Great Book
Loved it! Couldn’t put it down!  Anon


"I finished Down from the Tree! But having lived with Samuel all this time, I would loved to know where his life goes! The trilogy could make such a good movie!. " M.N.

                                      Etched in Granite - Book One


                                                  "God's gifts come in all manner of forms. Pretty sure this is one."  ~ J.L. Pierce 

I really enjoyed this book. I loved what I learned about the history of County Farms, really connected with the characters, and appreciated the author's goal of acknowledging past practices which were both unfair and cruel.   Nancy Ely

Great Book
Loved it! Couldn’t put it down!  Amazon Customer

I have never enjoyed historical novels but this one was different. I felt drawn into the lives of the three main characters. Well done! It kept my interest which is hard to do. Looking forward to reading the Angels’ Lament, which I already have.  S. Washington

Exquisitely Written Novel!
This book is such an exquisitely written novel. This book stays true to the time period and pays homage to the people who lived on the poor farm. Such an amazing tribute for the author to recognize these lost souls in history. You can tell her passion for history shines through the pages of this book. A great read I recommend this book to everyone!  Kathryn

I was raised in this area and the author did an excellent job.    Amazon Review 

Unfortunate Survivors
A story about the unfortunate people who lived during and after the Civil War in Ossipee, NH.    M. Davis

I so enjoyed this book, I can't wait for the next one. Cindy R.

I could not put this book down! Awesome right to the very end!  C. Zavala

Five Stars - Great historical novel set in a place seldom written about.  Academy Village

I couldn’t put the book down. I have lived their lives for the past five days. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait for more.

Sounded historically correct and certainly an eye-opener. I could not put this book down, living their lives with them.  P. Wallace

Good story! Became a “ page-turner” for me! M. Murphy

Beautifully written by a talented author!
A beautiful and sad account of a part of history that was conveniently swept under the rug. I could not put this book down. I applaud this talented author for her dedication and perseverance to reunite these lost numbered souls with their names. I'm sure that they will come to rest easier now because of MJ!   Jane Brown

A must-read
I could not put it down. Very good read. You will be glad you read it. I've told all my friends about it. G. Hawkins


A Historical Novel Everyone Should Read
A very moving and beautifully written novel. The characters in this story are unforgettable! Their challenges and struggles to survive will touch your heart.   S. Finn


A thought-provoking read. This is a beautifully written book about life post civil war on a poor farm. The author does an amazing job creating believable characters and their struggles as inmates. My entire book club enjoyed the book.  MK 

A Must Read! Some books are a chore to read. I was anxious to dive into this one. I committed the mortal sin of skipping the preface and flipped to the end of chapter one. Should be flogged for that! I got chills on my goosebumps and vice versa. My plan is to sequester myself until the entire book is devoured by these hungry eyes. It's been too long since a book hypnotized me this well. Mj Pettengill has a very bright future ahead of herself. Phoenix E. Nicholson


I love that the story is based on fact…I am on my second reading of this book and am enjoying it even more the second time around. The characters come to life through Mj's thoughtful detailing, and her descriptions of this area in N.H., in that time frame, create a clear picture in my imagination. I love that the story is based on fact--that there existed such a place as the poor farm--and that Mj honors the memory of its inhabitants with this account. This is an important book, and I will anxiously wait for a sequel!  Amazon Review

Excellent Tribute
This book is an excellent tribute to the poor souls who found themselves victims of circumstances that led them to live out their lives at a poor farm. The biases of the era were well described. Wish Silas and Abigail could have had lived together. Characters were very real. 

 Amazon Kindle Customer

I love this book. It is full of details, emotion, love, and courage. I became attached to the characters. I never knew about this part of our history. I couldn't put it down. The second book is excellent too. I loved knowing what happened to Sarah and how her life turned out.  July 20, 2019    (AJP) Amazon Review

Mj Pettengill’s fictionalization of this dark piece of history brings the suffering of inmates of the County Home into stark reality. These are not criminals but ordinary people who fall into this horrendous system of 19th Century welfare because of ordinary circumstances: old age and infirmity, pregnancy, mental illness, poverty. Most if not all of these inmates have the misfortune of losing the family support that would have kept them away from such an institution. In the 21st Century, such people have access to safety nets that will provide some modicum of care and assistance. Back in the old days, those safety nets didn't exist. People's prejudices heaped yet another stigma upon them. The cruelty of the care providers added another layer of indignation to a person's loss of family and ultimately, their humanity. Pettigrew illustrates this very well in this first of a series of stories about the human beings interred in County graveyards, their graves separated from those of the rest of the township, and marked only with a number. (SJC)   Amazon Review 

An epic recounting; a fantastic journey through time, a voice to the nameless; and names to the once voiceless....

Excellent book!  Donna L.


I am on my second reading of this book and am enjoying it even more the second time around. The characters come to life through Mj's thoughtful detailing, and her descriptions of this area in N.H., in that time frame, create a clear picture in my imagination. I love that the story is based on fact--that there existed such a place as the poor farm--and that Mj honors the memory of its inhabitants with this account. This is an important book, and I will anxiously wait for a sequel!   Amazon Customer

These memorable characters and setting make me curious about the emergence of town poor farms in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s. Excellent choice to spark lively conversations for book clubs and among other readers, especially those who enjoy Christina Baker Kline’s ORPHAN TRAIN, Jeannette Walls’s HALF BROKE HORSES, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s THE SCARLET LETTER, with a touch of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES. It makes me want to go out and buy a yellow dress (for solidarity, in much the same way people shave their heads when a loved one experiences chemo-related hair loss). I also have a hankering for fresh-baked corn bread and biscuits now.
I applaud the author's passion for her subject, inspired by her visits to a local cemetery and her diligent research!     V. Fransen

I bought this book and I don't usually write reviews, but I feel compelled to write one about this book. I love history, but many of these books are boring; this is not the case here. The author's writing style is unique in the fact that I never felt I was reading, but was actually experiencing it, like I was there; she paints pictures with her words, and that is an amazing way to read. 
I love how we not only get one character's perspective on an event, but several perspectives [...] I'd love to see other books from this author. I hope she continues this storyline in more books. I highly recommend this book to anyone... R. Anair

LOVED this book. Gripping. I couldn't put this book down and completed it in less than 2 days. As a recent transplant to the area, I was surprised to find a distant relative on the list of "numbered stones".  

 I really enjoyed the book. I found that my life just stopped and all I could do was read it, for about three days - until I finished it. It was intriguing [...] Looking forward to reading your next book!  B. McMahan

I've just finished your novel and wanted to thank you. I am an avid reader, housebound during the heat of summer, and average a novel every two days.  It is rare that I find a contemporary work that draws me into the world created by a writer--and you certainly did that. Thank you for a beautiful (but heart wrenching) read.    J. Tew-Allred


This book tells a gripping and eye-opening story through the colorful animation of the lives of the characters portrayed. This historical novel provides an intimate and heartrending look at the social conditions of the poor farms of our country's past; a history which was little known to me. The tale is full of vivid characters who engage in charming, idiosyncratic dialogue, and artful applications of creative imagery which imbues the mind of the reader with enchantment and longing.   S. Trevor

I more than enjoyed it. I loved it. I adored it. I had to pace myself so the experience could last longer and I actually cried when I got to the end. I cried for the characters several times while reading, but cried for myself when I was finished.    B. Height 


One of my 8th graders is reading Etched in Granite. She did an unbelievably sophisticated analysis of the first three chapters for me yesterday. She loves the way you use language.  M. VanderWolk

Beautifully written. I couldn't put it down. The story stays with you long after you finish the book. Beth B.


I love this book. It's sad and unexpected. I like how it is informational while telling a very powerful love story. D.M. Brown


It is through a long series of fortunate events, which lead me to read "Etched in Granite" (EIG). A historian I am not, and I have long considered history a rather dry, uninteresting topic..... UNTIL I first picked up my copy of EIG and opened it to the first page. I shall never look at history the same way again! The authors poignant recounting of historical facts and research immediately drew me into the story. Not only was the story itself riveting, but also magical in a sense.... I was transported, as if in a time capsule to a different place and time. The heart rendering struggle, of a fine decent young woman, silenced by a society, a place in time which allowed no mercy for those deemed unimportant. Those carelessly discarded by the proper, the privileged, the guardians of hypocrisy and perpetrators of evil. Despite all of this poor dear Abigail honored the lessons taught by her parents; she suffered in silence and dutifully made the ultimate sacrifice, rather than reveal the truth. The lies, protected to the end, are finally exposed by the author; who bravely gives a voice to the paupers. The records have now been restored, the gravestones in a small paupers cemetery in rural New Hampshire, until the writing of this novel were only numbers, etched in granite. This novel, this author, now triumphantly gives a voice and names to the hundreds buried there. At last, they are recognized as more than a mere number, a small stone grave marker.... it is through this novel that I came to know them. As I read through the pages, the story came alive to me. I could see the vivid colors, hear the desperate cries, smell the smoke, see through the lies and feel the struggle and heartbreak. This is real. These people existed. An epic recounting; a fantastic journey through time, a voice to the nameless; and names to the once voiceless. Mj Pettengill must have channeled this story; to have so perfectly and with such great clarity revealed these lives, recounted these events, and enabled the truth to free a generation of lost souls. Lost, that is, until now. Lost until "Etched in Granite". A must read! Bravo! I am anxiously awaiting the next book, by my new favorite author!   Jean Greenland

I am almost done reading the book,another 100 or so pages to go. I even stayed up till 11 reading last night which I haven't done in a long time. I do want to visit the pauper cemetery once I have finished the book.    N. Atkinson 

I am enjoying this so much!! Hope there is one written off from this one!!... D. Satterfield

I love your writing style. The short chapters cycling through the three different perspectives makes it very personal. The fact that story takes place just 6 miles from my house makes it even more so.    T. Fortuna

I got your book yesterday and started reading it. If this doesn't make the New York Times bestsellers list, I'll be surprised.  It's pulling me in deep.  S.A.W.


I enjoyed reading this book. I couldn't put it down. The characters are well developed and the story tells about a time in history that we don't know a lot about, so it was informative. I never really thought about the poor farm before and how hard it must have been to live there.   Joan P.


     I was fortunate enough to read the e-book edition and eagerly await the arrival of this paperback. In a world of transitory effects with cynical advertising and exploitation of emotions it is refreshing to discover qualities that are substantial. We cannot understand the present unless we discover the past and therefore are unable to plan for the future without an historical perspective. We only have to witness contemporary events to know this is true. How many of us can relate to the actual lives of our great grandparents? .Some of whom were tested to the limit of surviving poverty. History is often written by the richest describing the lives of the richest but are not all lives precious?

     This is an illuminating account of those unfortunate folk who did not enjoy the comforts of life. I imagined how I would have coped in such circumstances. Set on a poor farm in an American North Eastern state, I was sharing their lives through the imagination of the author. All credit to her for bringing the characters alive. I asked my self throughout the book how I would have reacted. A thought provoking read indeed.

     By the end of the story, I felt as if I had been there sharing their experiences, both desperate and joyous. Although it is a fictional account I soon forget that after being empathetic with the main characters. All I can say is that the effects still linger in my mind well after finishing it.       A.J. Richardson , UK

I have to say, I have never read a book that touched me as much as this one did and the way you melted everyone's experiences all together.   Normajean A.

Good read.  Couldn't put it down.  Went to the cemetery in Ossipee and found these lost souls' headstones. May they rest now and be forever with the Angels.     S. Stickney

Unmarried and pregnant women on “county poor farms”…
It was hard to put down this book. It is fictional, but it is framed in a little-known part of America’s history. In her post-Civil War historical novel set in Ossipee, New Hampshire, Mj Pettengill brings to light America’s institutionalization of the infirmed (including veterans of the Civil War), elderly, and unmarried pregnant women on “county poor farms.” Virtually isolated from their community, residents were subject to public charity, judgment and prejudice.

The story is told through the experience of three central characters whose lives intersect at a poor farm. Chapter by chapter, each shares their point-of-view of significant events that demonstrate how two people can experience the same event but their perspectives differ. These events cascade into escalating misunderstandings and reactions, driving the plot and charging the story with unrelenting tension and rich character development to its very end. No character is perfect, no character is evil, but like most of us, fall somewhere in-between.

I look forward to reading any spin-offs that Mj may pursue. Deborah P. Kissell

What a great view into a not well known piece of history…
Really Interesting - and worth the time to read!! It looks like a L O N G book, but once you get into it, it moves very very quickly. It is very interesting to see the same historical activities from three 1800's in different perspectives. It gives you a great sense of what life was like in the early 1800's in New England. Quite well written, quite interesting, quite educational, quite interesting. Don't miss this one!!   Lilalma

A Must Read Book
In reading this book about living life in its simplest form, set in a time that in today's standards would be hard for all to endure (rich and poor alike) I learned so much. It was written in such a way that it made you feel like you were there. It was clear, concise and knowing that is part of our history really makes you think about ourselves and who we are as a society. It teaches us to appreciate nature without forcing it and maybe look at things a little differently. The Author's research really was apparent with all the details she inter grated. I can only hope there is a new book to follow! Karen Schmidt

Curl up in your warm chair and enjoy!
If you are a New England history buff like I am, you will LOVE this book. It's an amazing account of three different people's perspective of life in the mid 1800's living at the County Farm. The way the author has written this book pulls you right in as if you are living it. It is an eye opener as to how life was at that time and the research shows it. I highly recommend this easy to follow but moving read. I think it would make a pretty good movie! Looking forward to the sequel.
Laura L. Powers

Wonderful Book
I loved the book and didn't want it to end! I have a home in the Ossippe area and I would now like to visit the cemetery. I bought a few copies to give for gifts and my son is now reading the book and enjoying it! Kim Kowal

This is very informative historically and has very interesting characters. Especially love Nellie! Will be anxious to read a follow-up. book. Have recommended this one to my friends and fellow book readers.    Amazon Customer

Five Stars
This is an excellent book! Loved it!  Harvey Dougherty

                                      The Angels' Lament - Book Two


Anxiously awaiting the next book! Each one I start reading and don’t want to put down; BUT in the same breath don’t want it to end!
Intriguing way of writing that makes you so curious for more!   Amazon Five Star Review

Lots of layering in this rich story. I love the characters and knowing what happened to Abigail's sister. looking forward to the next book.
AJP - Amazon Five Star Review

Second book in the series and I enjoyed as much as the first book. I really like her writing style - especially having chapters of same date as experienced by each of the characters. She definitely does a lot of research and makes sure that the reader really can relate to the time period and each character.

Ann H.  - Amazon Five Star Review

I really enjoyed the first book Etched in Granite, and this book perfectly segues into Sarah’s story, I love the detailed description of life in that time period; I feel like I’m an observer of events. I can smell the smells and hear the sounds, amazing book! R. Anair - Amazon Five Star Review

Mj Pettengill is an extraordinary writer! The Angels' Lament is the second book in her series. You will need to read Etched in Granite first as The Angels' Lament begins where it ends.   Deborah - Amazon Five Star Review

The characters are so real, as is the story. Wonderful getaway from today! Superbly written!

I learned a lot about the trials and tribulations of women and children who worked in the mills of Fall River, Massachusetts, in the late 1800s. Nothing comes easy for these characters. Yet they persevere through their struggles and find meaning as they go along.
Engaging characters take the reader on a wild ride through their experiences in this historical novel. It turns out a passion for music can be a salve to soothe the wounded spirit.
I found myself humming “Millworker” by James Taylor during some scenes. This story helps the reader develop empathy for such workers. It’s a book well worth reading! Vivian Fransen - Amazon Five Star Review

This book perfectly continues where the first book Etched in Granite leaves off. Can't put it down. I feel like I know each of the characters and never want the story to end. These are both a must-read. Harvey Dougherty - Amazon Five Star Review

In "Etched in Granite." I was upset when Sarah left Abigail at the Poor Farm. After reading "The Angels' Lament," I gained more of an understanding of what it took to survive during such dire times. Sarah is a heroine in her own right.    M.R. Wood 

This book left me completely stunned. The ending blew me away. Please hurry and write the third book.  RWP

The Angels' Lament is a page-turner! I love how there is such a huge contrast between Sarah and Bess's worlds and how August ties them together.  Annie's trek across the ocean is a powerful account of the hardships of the Irish immigrant story. There is so much in this book. I recommend it for everyone with an interest in this part of our history or who would like to learn. Life in big mill cities was no picnic.  Sara A.

I love this book! Abigail and Sarah are very different, and it shows in how they handle challenges in their lives. I love all the characters in this book.  It's full of fine details and very well-written.  Mary H.

The Angels' Lament has so many facets! I love how we are taken back in time, from New England to Ireland, following the arduous journey during the exile and famine.  That, in addition to Sarah's courageous story and how she faces such challenges, opened up a whole new world. August is endearing and Bess gives us an idea about how the wealthy families fit into that complex world. The ending was breathtaking! Getting a copy of Book Three NOW!   F.J.C.

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