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In the fall
Jeffrey Lent
Adult Fiction LENT

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The immediacy of the past, the tensions of race, the crushing weight of guilt and the searing intensity of forbidden love drive Lent's expansive, richly detailed and expertly plotted debut novel. Spanning three generations, from the end of the Civil War through Prohibition, the story begins with an interracial marriage between a Vermont soldier and a runaway slave girl. Nineteen-year-old Norman Pelham is wounded and dying in the woods of Virginia near the end of the war when 16-year-old Leah finds and saves him. She has fled Sweetboro, N.C., after killing her owner's sonÄher own half brotherÄwhen he tried to rape her. Norman and Leah know better than to allow their initial attraction to flower into love, but they cannot ignore their passion, and they marry on the road to Vermont. In brisk, confident detail, Lent recreates many historical scenesÄsoldiers returning wearily home, cider-pressing time in Vermont, the ins and outs of bootlegging and whiskey-running in the resort mountains of New Hampshire in the '20s. The male charactersÄNorman, his son and youngest child, Jamie, and Jamie's son, FosterÄprovide the narrative thread for the novel; but it is Leah whose story thematically unites the lives of husband, son, and grandson. Twenty-five years after her flight, Leah finds that she cannot continue to put the past behind her and must go back to Sweetboro. What she discovers there, and never reveals to her husband or to either of her grown daughters, is a mystery until her grandson Foster finally makes his own trip south. Lent's prose is sometimes lyrical to a fault, but otherwise remarkable for its grace, felicity and precision. Engrossing, wonderfully written, with a full gallery of believable and sympathetic characters, this first novel introduces an ambitious and talented writer. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. BOMC main selection; QPB selection; paperback rights to Vintage; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Sweden and Greece. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This debut novel is a monumental family narrative that traces three generations following the Civil War. As the novel opens, a wounded Union solider named Norman is befriended by Leah, an escaped slave. Eventually, they marry and return to Norman's home in Vermont, where they raise a family despite their neighbors' intolerance. When their children are still young, Leah returns to the South and discovers the truth about her past, which leads to her suicide. The next section of the book covers the life of son Jamie, who leaves the farm for a criminal life in the city. After he falls in love with a whore named Joey, they move from the city and raise two children until Joey and their daughter die of influenza. Jamie, who makes his living as a bootlegger, raises his son, Foster, until Jamie becomes snarled with criminals from his past and is killed. The final part of the novel follows Foster, who discovers two aunts whom his father never mentioned. "The world," offers his Aunt Prudence as an explanation, "is a great huge stone that don't care how many times you hurl yourself against it." Against his aunts' wishes, Foster travels down South and learns the secret that led to his grandmother Leah's suicide. The extremely captivating plot and absorbing characters are tied together in a heartfelt manner that will dazzle every reader. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/99.]--David A. Beron„, Univ. of New England, Biddleford, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Norman Pelham

Leah Pelham
African American
Norman's wife.

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