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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Few writers are able to straddle the genres of popular and literary fiction. Although marriage, adversity, and resilience are conventional themes in both, much popular fiction relies on standardized plot twists or gimmicks to attract its readership. Novelists like Anita Shreve, however, don't require either of those contrivances to form a large and loyal following. Again and again, her touching stories defy classification and offer an incredible richness of emotional complexity.
In the textile-manufacturing region of New Hampshire in 1929, newlyweds Honora and Sexton Beecher wrestle with all the wonders and challenges that young couples have always faced. They've just purchased a house near the ocean that needs a lot of work, but the couple is dedicated to making it a home. When the economy fails and a single unscrupulous act perpetrated by Sexton is revealed, more than love will be required to keep the marriage from collapsing under the weight of this betrayal. Sexton -- formerly a traveling salesman -- is forced to take a job at the local mill alongside other men, women, and children whose very survival is being threatened by the harsh burden of their daily toil. Repeated pay cuts and inhumane conditions propel the workers closer to a potentially violent clash with management and union breakers. Alliances are formed, honor is challenged, and character flaws become fatal as the tinderbox explodes, leaving old bonds broken and new ones bolstered.
Momentum builds steadily in this beautifully developed story, unfettered by needless machinations. Shreve deftly weaves the lives of a diverse collection of characters into a tapestry that is rich with the complete range of human emotion and lush with tactile nuance. (Ann Kashickey)