After his service in the Civil War, Sergeant John Weldon, haunted and nearly shattered by his experiences on and off the battlefield (which left him with lingering acute pain and a morphine addiction), makes his way to the picturesque new village of Englewood in New Jersey at the invitation of the spirited and welcoming McCullough family. He falls in love with the daughter of the house, fiercely intelligent and compassionate Kate, but he’s traumatized by the war and its aftereffects, and in the course of a long and very satisfyingly complex novel, Morris throws dozens of obstacles in the path of their relationship (including some extremely evocative flashbacks of Weldon’s war memories).
The various members of the McCullough family are portrayed with careful detail and some moments of unexpected humor, but it’s the tortured John Weldon who commands the book; his slow and halting search for personal redemption makes for mesmerizing reading. Recommended.
The Grand Union
When Gilded Age banker Buck Crenshaw’s career plans are ruined on the eve of his honeymoon in 1887 Saratoga Springs, he must learn how to love his new wife while hustling for clients to secure their future. A faith healer arrives on the scene shaking Buck’s confidence yet again, but this time he has a wife who refuses to let him fail. Will his eyes be opened to the gifts before him or will he turn in bitterness away from all that is good?