Thomas Fox Averill’s latest book tells Nell Doerr’s story via journals, letters, drawings, notes and clippings. “Found Documents” is more than epistolary, it is archival, left behind by Doerr, who lived in Lawrence, KAN between 1854 and 1889. You feel as if you can reach Doerr, despite her being a fictional character.
The novel tells the story of her two stillborn babies, her move to Kansas, the loss of her husband in Quantrill’s Raid, and her discovery, while hiding in her basement, of the fossils of ancient creatures in the foundation rock. In finding these specimens this unforgettable heroine finds herself, a woman unconventional and strong, a mother without children, a wife without a husband, a scientist without educational pedigree, and someone who nurtures her passion for nature and contributes to the scientific knowledge of her time.