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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.