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New book about Monson hermit gains national attention

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A new book about a fascinating man who moved to Monson in 1895 has caught the attention of historians and reviewers on a national scale.

Based on a true story “Hermit: The Mysterious Life of Jim Whyte” by Maine author and historian Jeffrey Ryan, weaves a tale almost too fantastic to be believed.

When Whyte settled outside the slate mining town of Monson in 1895, people hardly knew what to make of him. Almost 130 years later, they still don’t. A world traveler that spoke six languages fluently, Whyte came to town with sacks full of money and a fierce desire to keep to himself. It was clear that Whyte was hiding from something — enough to make even the FBI eventually come looking. But even the Feds couldn’t imagine how Whyte, who lost every penny he had when World War I broke out, amassed another fortune before he died. Based on the true story, Hermit follows one man’s quest to discover all he can about Whyte’s secret life before it’s too late.

Ryan, author of several books including “Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America’s trail” (Down East Books, 2016) and “Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery and the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail (Appalachian Mountain Club Books, 2017) said, “I happened upon a reference to Jim Whyte when I was researching my earlier books and thought it might be an interesting story. I had no idea how interesting and unlikely the tale would become. Incredibly, Whyte lived a secret double life involving frequent trips to New York City with almost nobody being the wiser. How he was making his money will certainly intrigue modern readers.”

Ryan will be at the Monson Historical Society Museum at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 20 and will have his latest book available for sale. The museum is located next to the Monson Town Office on Main Street. For further information contact Estella Bennett at 876-3073 or Glenn Poole at 557-7769.

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