About the Book

"Carol Henn weaves masterful tales … that will delight readers everywhere."

-Adriana Trigiani, New York Times best-selling author of Big Stone Gap

Those tales are the heart of Part I of Oilcloth Stories – stories of the men, women, and children who came to America from Central Europe and settled in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Unlike the wealthy captains of industry whose names were well known in Bethlehem, New York, Washington, and far beyond, these immigrants, as the Introduction to Oilcloth Stories says, "were men and women whose lives never warranted a news story, an autograph, or an award; whose names were unknown beyond their families, churches, and neighborhoods. They were men and women who lived and died in relative obscurity. But in many of their lives there were astonishing stories of triumph and pathos, devotion and brutality, tragedy and exultation. Their stories should be told, must be told."

Oilcloth Stories – part fiction, part memoir – brings to life such people as….

  • KATHRYN.  The wealthy granddaughter of Polish immigrants who finds that her affluence, her California country club, her jewels, and her expensive possessions can't bring her a fraction of the happiness that her humble grandparents knew.
  • EDGAR.  The disturbed grandson of stern and unforgiving Austrian immigrants. Desperately lonely, he has a deep need to love and be loved, and an equally powerful urge to threaten and control.
  • LENA.  A woman on whom a Romany gypsy cast a spell before she was born; a spell that enables her to know … truly know … what the future holds.
  • MISHKA.  A frugal immigrant whose landlady devises a way to slip a fortune in American money past the eyes of Communist officials in Hungary.
  • ELSA.  A German woman who comes to America to escape the horrors and memories of World War II, and finds that her most terrifying memories may have followed her … right to her door.

In Sweet Revenge, a novella that is Part II of Oilcloth Stories, Fanny, the shy and homely daughter of Austrian immigrants, finds an unlikely friend in her school years and an even more unlikely love in her adult years. When that love is betrayed, Fanny's creative mind devises a revenge that destroys her friend, her beloved … and herself.

In Part III of Oilcloth Stories, Carol Henn remembers the golden days of her grade school and junior high school years in a memoir that is both touching and amusing. It is a memoir that will be recognizable to Baby Boomers who attended grade school and junior high school in the days of metal desks with lift-up tops, air-raid drills, jumping rope at recess, memorizing the times tables, and reading about Alice, Jerry, and Jip the dog.