Based on events in the author's family history, this ably written historical novel follows a century-old court case. The author's German heritage caused her ancestors grief at the time of WWI in the Texas hill country town of Seguin, where America's rabid anti-German hysteria revealed itself in deep suspicion and persecution of German Americans like Will Bergfeld. The dapper and capable William Hawley Atwell, who later becomes a federal judge, defends Will against an accusation of treason; in fact, Will is guilty of nothing but union sympathies, German ancestry and a mercurial temperament that makes him a difficult client and often his own worst enemy. The trial is an uphill battle against the press and public sentiment, and the case is stacked against him, but Will has right on his side, and is supported by his beautiful, gentle wife, Virginia King Bergfeld, and his volatile, gorgeous sister, Louise. Windle already has a deserved reputation as a fine, lyrical writer and lively historian: she used the rich fodder of her tough Texas female forebears to produce the well-received True Women. Here, she condenses thousands of pages of transcripts from her grandfather's actual trial into a suspenseful fiction, and vividly resurrects 1917 Texas. This excellent book will be popular with history buffs and romance readers alike. (Oct. 25) Forecast: A 10-city author tour and $100,000 marketing campaign should effectively advertise this strong effort, and mobilize Windle's fans who include First Lady Laura Bush. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Windle (True Women) bases her latest novel on the trial of her grandfather, Will Bergfeld, in Abilene, TX, in 1917. Accused of plotting with others to assassinate President Wilson, Will was the victim of anti-German emotions unleashed during World War I. In Texas communities where German immigrants had settled years before, townspeople turned on neighbors they suspected of being anti-American. Will's wife, sister, and in-laws watched helplessly as evidence mounted against the men on trial. Will's involvement in labor organizing, the perjured testimony of a jilted lover, and circumstantial evidence present a daunting challenge for the defense. Interspersed with accounts of the trial are chapters about earlier times and places in the life of Will and his family. Windle sometimes lapses into melodramatic musings bordering on the comic, and her incomplete sentences are annoying. Nevertheless, the compelling narrative sweeps the reader along toward the dramatic conclusion. The novel will please fans of her previous books and may draw other public library patrons as well. Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.