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Posted April 14, 2009
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From That's All She Read http://allsheread.blogspot.com
This is a quirky little book with tiny chapters and a tendency to sweep from one geological age to another. It's also a fascinating account of a disaster that had human habitation been as fragile and dense as it is now, would have been a cataclysm. This Arlington Nuetzel illustrates by one last chapter detailing the impact of an earthquake in 2027 as strong as several that took place over a few months in 1811 and 1812. It is both a story of human struggle, tragedy and triumph and also a cautionary tale to spur us to more effective action to prepare ourselves for the unthinkable.
The narrative, for as I will explain below it is more that than a novel, concerns the Boncouer family living in new Madrid, Missouri, in 1811. The family is the basic unit facing not only the forces of nature but also of human nature. Throughout the story the well-being of the daughter, Sarah, as she is first kidnapped by pirates and later becomes the love and lover of a seeming charlatan and elopes with him, circumstances equal to the trials of natural disaster. The quakes affect Sarah primarily because she thinks she may have lost her love and the father of her unborn child to its forces, but another family member, her uncle, whose actions as a result of the quakes' damage that are really tragic.
I would have to say the writing in this book is uneven, running from unduly formal and stilted to simple, straightforward and descriptive. I sometimes felt that Nuetzel, faced with a 25 cent word and a dime word invariably chose the quarter. In the dialogue this may have been suitable, as the written English of the day was that, but it tended to be too much in the narrative itself. However when the thunder starts and the earth shakes, Nuetzel's prose changes. His forte in this book is his description of the disaster as it takes place from the perspective of indibidual characters.
I say it is a narrative more than a novel because it has a family storyline but in many ways that storyline seems imprinted on the real tale. The characters don't feel authentic or well-rounded. I must admit however that I got choked up with the ultimate scenes of the love story of Cletis and Sarah, so they m ust have been real enough to me for that. And it is a good narrative as far as what it relates. It contains details of the 1811-12 quakes that are absent from other books I have read, and the 2027 events are equal to other quake novels I have read. The story comes aroundfull circle with a descendant of Sarah in a way that is quite satisfying.
There are peripheral characters that will delight you. The historical characters include the commander of the pirates and his Indian and Portuguese mixed blood wife, Pluggie, an unforgettable figure in American history. I told Mr. Nuetzel I liked her best, and he told me, "Everyone does." I would love to see him take a crack at a fictional biography. His illustration of the Chickasaw tribe is loving and true to history and if a bit romantic, a real positive in this ultimately sad story.
This book is available in paperback and on Kindle, and if it is not yet, it will be available on BookShare.org for people who are print impaired.
That's All She Read
Posted December 4, 2008
2027, New Madrid, Missouri<BR/><BR/>Arlington Nuetzel did a masterful job in creating this work. Research depicts a series of events in the Mississippi Basin in the winter of 1811 ¿ 12, that are largely forgotten or ignored in the 20th and 21st Centuries.<BR/><BR/>I found the book intriguing, planned a casual three day read and by the second, I could not put it down. The story line is a veritable rollercoaster of striking events on the Mississippi which culminate in, not a plausible or probable cataclysmic event, but an eventual happening of biblical proportions. I highly recommend this book to any and all. I live on the rim of the Pacific Ring of Fire and know only too well the forces brought to bear with the ever moving Tectonic Plates. Go buy this book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 26, 2008
In the winter of 1811-1812 a series of earthquakes occurred in America¿s heartland, near New Madrid, MO. These earthquakes are listed among the some of the largest earthquakes of known history and are credited with affecting the topography of the North American continent more than any other known earthquake. They were responsible for forming new lakes, changing the course of the Mississippi River, and destroying over 150,000 acres of forest. There are estimates that these earthquakes were felt strongly over an area of 50,000 square miles. Experts predict that there is a 90% chance of an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or greater occurring in the same area before the year 2040. The author of 2027, New Madrid, Missouri takes us back in time to the winter of 1811-1812 and puts us down smack in the middle of the action. We get to meet several people who are living and/or working in the area and spend many anxious minutes with them as they fight for their lives in the middle of one of the major seismic events in known history. The action is tense and the book moves along quickly. At the end of the book, the author follows a descendent of one of those New Madrid pioneers into the year 2027 just when the New Madrid fault produces another great quake. We then get to see several predictions of what exactly could happen in the St. Louis area if an earthquake of the same intensity of the 1811-1812 earthquakes were to occur.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.