A Time To Cast Away Stones, a mid-20th century historical novel by Elise Frances Miller: Book review by Bardi Rosman Koodrin

Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine. It’s one thing to read about a long ago heroine struggling to set things right in a setting foreign to my own experiences. It’s quite another to personally relate to having lived in the area where the story takes place in a particularly memorable period in recent history: my generation’s role in the student protest against the Viet Nam war during the turbulent 1960s.

Elise Frances Miller’s novel In a Time to Cast Away Stones begins in the fall of 1968 with the San Francisco Bay Area students’ antiwar movement.  Her riveting story concludes a few months later in Paris during the “Events of May,” the only student-worker-bourgeois alliance and revolution that a Western capitalist democracy has ever experienced.

A Time to Cast Away Stones by Elise Frances Miller

Miller’s protagonist Janet Magill begins her stint at UC Berkeley as a shy freshman who is away from her posh Beverly Hills home for the first time. She is struggling to find her place in a fast-paced academic world inhabited by throngs of young men and women who don’t seem interested in anything she might have to say — if she could find her voice to express a socially relevant opinion, of which she comes to realize she lacks. Janet soon embarks on a path that will change her life and challenge her philosophical ideals when she finds herself on foreign soil and the front lines of a modern day French revolution.

In contrast, Janet’s boyfriend Aaron Becker is a science major ready to graduate who is not at all sure of his future. He shares Janet’s worry when her older brother is shipped off to Viet Nam, yet he’s confused by her newfound sense of purpose that revolves around UC Berkeley’s student protest against the war. Aaron is concerned over her drastic, seemingly overnight switch from a naïve straight-laced girl to campus radical involved with a political fringe group he wants nothing to do with. Janet’s conservative parents are appalled.

Neither Janet nor Aaron imagined they would end up in the fabled City of Light during the historic May Revolution that involved over ten thousand French citizens. Janet had never pictured herself falling for a dashing Czech dissident. The unconditional gift Aaron gave to Janet and his Eastern European rival ultimately led to his own clear path to follow. Elise Frances Miller’s impartial approach to the complicated subject matter of the Viet Nam war is commendable: she presents multiple sides of the story that accurately portray this conflicted, highly volatile era of American and European history. She brings to life a young woman searching for meaning and the two men who love her, the passionate zeal of student and worker protesters here and abroad as well as their friends who oppose the protests, and varying political and social opinions of adults who observe from the sidelines.

Certain aspects of Miller’s character Janet Mcgill remind me of my youth: a politically uninformed high school senior who in the spring of 1968 was focused on finding the perfect dress for prom and burning a detested parochial uniform at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on graduation day. Like Janet, my awareness expanded when friends were drafted into a war we didn’t understand and families were torn apart by loss and opposing beliefs.

A Time to Cast Away Stones is not just a story for the people who lived through that era. In fact, this historically vital novel should be included on high school and college course lists. It will prove invaluable for anyone who wants to learn from the past to protect the future.

SM Fair Literary Contest Deadline is Monday April 1st!!!

San Mateo County Fair June 8-16 2013

Don’t forget everyone, all of the literary contests, including the Notre Dame $20,000 Creative Writing Scholarship and the two book cover art contests are due MONDAY APRIL 1st, NO EXCEPTIONS!!!

Go to www.sanmateocountyfair.com/contests/departments/literary-arts for all information needed to  enter these contests.  Don’t forget to register, either online or by snail mail, $10.00 per entry.

Be a published author in the second annual Carry the Light anthology that will be available on Amazon.com!

A Diamond Studded Evening At The DIAMOND AWARDS Jan 25, 2013

PAC Board Members From Left to Right – Julie Fellers, Lisa Forte, Donald Mulliken, Denise Delaney, Alisan Andrews, Beth Mostovoy, Mara Grimes, Joan Currie and Mary Alice Bowie.

PAC Board Members
Left to Right – Julie Fellers, Lisa Forte, Donald Mulliken, Denise Delaney, Alisan Andrews, Beth Mostovoy, Mara Grimes, Joan Currie and Mary Alice Bowie

The Peninsula Arts Council certainly knows how to put on a party.  As a 2012 Special Recognition recipient, I felt truly honored.  PAC President Julie Fellers and board members Beth Mostovoy, Alisan Andrews, Lisa Forte, Mary Alice Bowie, and Don Mulliken greeted my husband Boris and I with the grace and elegance befitting such a gala affair.

I enjoyed meeting my fellow Diamond Award honorees, and being inspired by their acceptance speeches.  Each of us spoke with the contagious passion that fuels our individual artistic endeavors.  We were well represented among our various expressive mediums, from Dr. Bryan Baker’s enthusiasm for Masterworks Chorale, Judy Shintani and her work for the Coastside Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, and Sonja Palmer’s Music for Minors organization.

Actress and Art in Action Advocate Maureen McVerry should win a special prize for the funniest, most engaging acceptance.  The city of Redwood City shone as the place to be for arts and culture, honoring Government Support winner Warren Dale,  Lorie Lochtefeld and her husband Eric’s commitment to the Fox Theatre, and tireless Arts Volunteer Barbara Pierce.

We were treated with performances by both of the Ray Lorenzato Young Artist recipients: Amanda Odasz is a multi-talented powerhouse with a voice to match.  I’ve known Sean Traynor as a multiple-award winning writer who’s been entering the San Mateo County Fair literary contests since 2009, but didn’t realize he is also a singer and actor.  Way to go Sean!

Welcome to Carry the Light 2013, a Creative Collaboration

“Carry the Light is all about following your smallest
inclination to its greatest conclusion.”

Carry the Light is a philosophy originated by Boris Koodrin, director of the Fine Arts Galleria at the San Mateo County Fair. His inspiration took form in collaboration with blues guitarist Kelly Richey when he illustrated her 2008 album “Carry the Light.”


Within the Fine Arts Galleria, Boris and his wife, Bardi Rosman Koodrin, the department’s literary director, provide opportunities each year at the fair for artists, writers, and performers to express themselves in their chosen medium.

Boris and Bardi believe that everyone has an important story to tell, and they provide the space with which to create. Their intent is to uplift and challenge people to reflect on how much we have to be grateful for, and to help instill the thought that there is unlimited potential in what we can do to uplift one another.


Carry the Light is not just a slogan: it is an ideal that also challenges all of us to dream a better dream for ourselves. The assumption that some of us are highly creative, while others are not, is one that Boris and Bardi continuously challenge.

“We are all called to paint a masterpiece with our lives.”