The Lightning Keeper (P.S. Series)by Starling Lawrence
This is the story of an unlikely love at the dawn of the electric age in America. In 1914, Toma Pekocevic is a penniless immigrant in New York recently escaped from the bloody politics of the Balkans that has claimed most of his family. He is also a gifted inventor who designs a revolutionary water turbine while working with Harriet Bigelow, scion of a proud… See more details below
This is the story of an unlikely love at the dawn of the electric age in America. In 1914, Toma Pekocevic is a penniless immigrant in New York recently escaped from the bloody politics of the Balkans that has claimed most of his family. He is also a gifted inventor who designs a revolutionary water turbine while working with Harriet Bigelow, scion of a proud Connecticut iron-making dynasty now fallen on hard times. Their attraction is immediate and overwhelming, but every circumstance is against them. Toma's invention is all he has after losing Harriet to a wealthy politician, but he is determined to win her back, setting the stage for a confrontation that could change not only his life but the course of scientific progress.
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Meet the Author
Starling Lawrence is the editor in chief and vice chairman of W.W. Norton & Company. He is the author of the novel Montenegro and the story collection Legacies. He lives in New York City and northwestern Connecticut.
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Set against the backdrop of the First World War, this is a wonderful story about the struggle for technological progress and of ill-fated love. Our lovers are frustrated by their perceptions of their roles in society, and struggle to resolve their feelings for each other without betraying their responsibilities. Alongside this bittersweet story, we are also treated to the struggle to create the modern electric power grid. The technical details are clearly described, and the author does a good job of describing the obstacles and the visions of the engineers that brought electricity to America. He also does a good job in showing the role of patents in this process. This is a wonderful book that paints a vivid portrait of the early part of the previous century and the people who lived then. There was one error in the details of this book that caught my attention, though. Beginning on page 208, the author describes Toma's visit the the U.S. Patent Office, describing its location as being at the Commerce Department Building (page 209). Unfortunately, the Patent Office did not move to the Commerce Department Building until 1932. From 1840-1932, the Patent Office was located in its own building, located in the block bounded by F, G, 7th and 9th Streets NW (now home to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery). Other than that detail, I found the description of Toma's visit to the Patent Office fascinating and true to life. (This review is based on a pre-publication Advanced Reader's Edition)