Reviews of Robert’s Books

Reviews for Prospects: Mining Maine for Riches

“Spencer has given us another beautifully written story about life in rural Maine in the late 1800s. Prospects takes the reader through the life of a poor Canadian miner hoping to strike it rich in the western hills. It doesn’t take long for the reader to become immersed in the lives of all the quirky characters in Clarence Potter’s life. The author has done a remarkable job setting scenes and writing dialogue that allows his readers to truly understand what life could have been like back then.”

Susan Clout, Maine resident and author

Reviews for The Spinster’s Hope Chest

“Robert has obviously done his research for this story. Between his knowledge of the time period and his writing style, I was easily transported back to life as it was in Maine during the 1860s. I was intrigued by Lizzie Millet’s life from the start. Spencer’s storytelling kept me turning the pages as I watched Lizzie share the close childhood bond she had with her sister. I was hooked while reading about her evolving  into a young woman and then entering adulthood with a business of her own. That was a major accomplishment  for a woman back then. I highly recommend The Spinster’s Hope Chest. It will either bring back fond memories because you live in Maine, or you may want to read it to learn about a life very different from your own.”

Susan Clout, author of The Six Week Road Trip

“Life without the social services we now have in 2020 was dramatically different. In The Spinster’s Hope Chest, by Robert W. Spencer, one reads of a time over a hundred years ago when orphaned children were passed around like left-over luggage, and women needed the institution of marriage, not for love and companionship, but simply to survive. His story of two sisters born in Waterford, Maine, moves around from rural Western Maine to the newly industrialized Southern Maine, where one sister works in the textile industries of Biddeford. The women Robert presents to his readers are strong and persistent. This is a great read for an authentic look at life in Maine in the Nineteenth Century.”

Cheryl Grant Gillespie, author of Gracie & Albert and one of the collaborative authors of Compassionate Journey: Honoring Our Mothers’ Stories.



When I returned from lunch at the Bear Mountain Inn today, there was a message left on my answering machine from Mary Andrews. “I like your book,” the caller said. “I enjoyed reading it.”

Who could keep from making a return call after such a positive review? We conversed.

“Mary Andrews? My name is Robert Spencer. I wanted to thank you for your message.”

“Mr. Spencer, my name is Mary Andrews. I was born and raised in South Waterford and I want to thank you for writing The Spinster’s Hope Chest.”

“Mary, I think I have met you at an Andrews family reunion at the Bear Mountain Inn two years ago?”

“Indeed. I used to own that place. My husband Oscar and I. We raised our children there.”

“When was that? What years?”

“Back in the 60’s. I was born on Mill Hill Road in 1923. Close to that Millett house in your book. That is why I wanted to call you. Reading it reminded me of that time and before. I was raised in a house in the village center, very close to the Watson box mill in the book. Thank you so much for reminding me how the village was at that time.”

I told her about the second novel PROSPECTS which will be published soon and how her Inn plays a significant role in the story.

“The story takes place in the 1890’s.”

“Oh, that is way before I owned it.”

“Yes, Mary Monroe owned it at that time.”

“Oh, you must mean Maria Monroe. No, she ran a smaller boarding house right on Bear Pond further down the road.”

As I said my goodbyes, she thanked me for calling back. “You have written such a wonderful book. Thank you so much. I will tell my son to watch out for the new one. Hope I am alive to read it.”


My good friend Susan Hughes read The Spinster’s Hope Chest. She liked it so much that she purchased three more on Amazon to give to her friends Christmas 2018. She then surprised me by posting a very positive review on Amazon. When I read her words, I asked her to rewrite it in order to post it on my blog. She did and sent it to me the same day that Mary Andrews called me. Here it is.

          “ The Spinster’s Hope Chest, by Robert W. Spencer, is a delightful afternoon read. Set in the small, charming town of Waterford, Maine (nicknamed “A Peaceful Village,” which every visitor entering the town finds on the official welcome sign), this work of fiction follows the real-life story of Lizzie Millett and her younger sister, Hattie, and their trials and tribulations growing up in the late 1800’s.

           The seed of the story comes from the author’s discovery of correspondence concerning Lizzie in the Waterford Historical Society archive. Having lived in and experienced this Peaceful Village for more than 40 years, Spencer was able to invent imaginary experiences to complement the carefully researched facts of her life and create a fascinating character and a vibrant world for the reader. Lizzie truly was a self-made woman, in a time and place when women were not typically allowed to make their own way in the world. Reading about the pain of her childhood, the reader can relate to Lizzie’s determination and courage as she struggled to make a better life for herself and her beloved sister: a struggle that resonates across time.

           The author’s descriptive writing style brings the reader right into the scenes so that it is easy to become immersed in the quaint settings of Waterford and the surrounding area. The characters are full and multi-faceted and the reader will find themselves rooting for them through the struggles and difficulties they face during this challenging time in history following the Civil War. Watching Lizzie’s growth and development through the story, and her ultimate success, will have the reader cheering her on and, at the end of this tale, wondering what happened next.”