It is 1900. The story follows the fortunes of two orphan train riders, a black southern man the two children rescue, and a young priest who has to find his own way into emotional adulthood. From the first train as Annette and Jonathan cross the country to their adopters in Illinois farm country, to the final eruption into riot, fire, and murder in a coal mining town, dramatic tension sustains through alternating points of view. If you love psychological tension fused with plot action, this is the novel for you.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Cynthia has experienced a nomadic existence having lived or visited most all states, Europe, and Australia. She was stationed in Scotland while in the Navy in the 80s, and loves all things British and Celtic. She has spent most of her life in Illinois growing up in Princeton, raising three children, or attending Illinois State University where she earned a BA in English Education and a Master's in History. After teaching at St. Bede Academy, a Catholic high school in the Benedictine tradition, she relocated to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, and taught English and history courses at the middle, secondary, and collegiate level. Currently, she resides and teaches in Arizona. When she is not writing, teaching, or traveling, you can find her on the golf course. She recently received her MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College, VT. "The Knife with the Ivory Handle" is her first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Knife with the Ivory Handle based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
In Cynthia Bruchman's debut novel, “The Knife with the Ivory Handle,” she weaves together a group of unlikely characters to create a rich and complex story. Set in Illinois around 1900, the story begins with two orphans traveling via train to meet their adoptive parents. During the journey, they discover a black man hiding in one of the boxcars. Wounded, wanted by the law, he has to trust them not to divulge his presence to the authorities. The children make the decision to befriend him and so does the young priest sent to meet the orphans and escort them to their new home. Bruchman does a fine job with making each of the characters compelling and sympathetic. Young Jonathan is a sensitive, creative boy with a gift for seeing beneath the surface of things. Artistic and bright, he senses the moods of others through keen observation and careful listening to the timbre of their voices. He is particularly attuned to the moods of his older sister, Annette, a secretive, ambitious girl who discovers she has a talent for healing and who dreams of being a doctor. Jonathan's sense of adventure and Annette's gift for healing is what draw them to Caspar, the wounded man hiding in the boxcar. Annette reminds Caspar of a young white girl he once saw in passing. That girl, Amelia, is the unlikely source of all his secret longings. Caspar's fantasy life is a rich one, and at odds with his everyday reality as husband to good, solid Clementine and father to their son. I found this an intriguing aspect of Caspar's character. Besotted with dreams of a girl he'll never have, Caspar is dissatisfied with his life. This later changes; being on the run from the law makes him appreciate his family life more, and much of Caspar's story turns on his quest to reunite with his wife and son. Father Kelly, initially a pretentious young man who hasn't seen enough of life to effectively minister to others, turns out to be a surprise. His experiences with the immigrant community he is asked to serve teach him empathy and compassion. So does the young woman who assists him in the community. She arouses feelings in him that perplex him and make him question his vocation. “The Knife with the Ivory Handle” is not a lengthy book, coming in at less than two hundred pages. Even so, it's an absorbing story full of charm and multilayered characterization. Bruchman writes with assurance about North Central Illinois in the early 1900s. She provides just enough history to delight those who enjoy historical novels. For this reader, however, the novel's primary charm was the vivid characterizations. I won't soon forget the prickly Annette, or her sensitive brother, Jonathan. I developed a fondness for Father Kelly and Caspar, and appreciated the insights both men gained as the book reached its conclusion. The novel ends on a bittersweet note, and I wonder what life might have in store for young Jonathan, for the priest, and for the wanted man so desperate to reunite with his family. I enjoyed the novel, and I look forward to reading more of Bruchman's work. Her sharply drawn characters and her adept story telling have left me hungry for further books. I'd say that's the hallmark of a first-class author.