The slant of light: Steve Wiegenstein

Good evening lovely, lovely readers! Sorry there are been less reviews up recently, I have been struggling (as always) to find enough time to write, read, work and socialise but here is another review for you to get your teeth into. Apologies that it has taken so much time to get up but I have been busy scheduling reviews and somehow this one got missed out! Organising my inbox is on my list of things to do! Additionally any comments anyone has or any questions about my thoughts on the book pop them in the comments box below as I am going out now to stuff my face and my tummy with wine and cheese fondue whilst watching the breakfast club. I am incredibly classy I promise. Hope you enjoy this darling review.

Set during the brink of the Civil War, this beautifully written novel traces James Turner, a charming, impulsive writer and lecturer; Charlotte, his down-to-earth bride; and Cabot, an idealistic Harvard-educated abolitionist as they are drawn together in a social experiment deep in the Missouri Ozarks. Inspired by utopian dreams of building a new society, Turner is given a tract of land to found the community of Daybreak: but not everyone involved in the project is a willing partner, and being the leader of a remote farming community isn’t the life Turner envisioned. Charlotte, confronted with the hardships of rural life, must mature quickly to deal with the challenges of building the community while facing her husband’s betrayals and her growing attraction to Cabot. In turn, Cabot struggles to reconcile his need to leave Daybreak and join the fight against slavery with his desire to stay near the woman he loves. As the war draws ever closer, the utopians try to remain neutral and friendly to all but soon find neutrality is not an option. Ultimately, each member of Daybreak must take a stand–both in their political and personal lives.

The book follows James Turner, notably a lecturer, who has written a utopian novel named Daybreak. It inspires a man from Missouri to donate land into the idea of creating a real life version of the book that Turner had written. Charlotte, a lovely but waif-like character immediately joins Turner hopeful to escape her sad home as well, with the two being joined by Adam Cabot who has links to the abolishment of the slave trade. The story hangs on the characterisation of these three characters as they work together and sometimes against each other in the hope of living the perfect Utopian life.

So anyone that has read my blog for a while or knows me personally will know that I am an absolute sucker for historical fiction in almost any shape or form. I love that it comes in so many shapes and sizes and even when two books explore and write about the same era they come out entirely differently! I think the genre is so versatile and although sometimes difficult to pull off, when done well it is truly wonderful. This book caught my eye because the cover is stunning and when I read the blurb and thought ‘I really don’t know a huge amount about this time in history,’ I was set for a brilliant read; and it honestly was. Learning about the utopian movement was a real learning curve for me and I liked how the writer contrasted the looming Civil War and the idea of a perfectly working society. I also really liked the time span it took on; it is not always known when reading a book how many days, weeks, years the plot contains but by setting it between 1857 and 1862 it allowed for a real in-depth plot line and allowed the author to really play around with the feelings and events of the characters.

The characters are all very well built up and the author really plays with the, creating diverse and interchangeable relationships that allowed the story to grow and increase pace. I really liked the romance that is stitched between the day to day running of the community and I thought it allowed each of the characters to get their time to shine. I found James a little cloying and thought that Charlotte came across a lot stronger as a character but their contrasting characteristics helped to give the story body. I found it compelling and a good contrast to the strong historical and political themes that were running through the main plot line. The secondary characters are given body which helps the book feel very real and you find yourself getting more immersed in the story line; look out especially for George Webb’s son and Sam Hildebrand who crop up throughout the story. I liked that the writing style wasn’t too over descriptive but instead suited the plot line much better than a flowery descriptive style would have.

Overall I really liked this historical fiction simply for its different and interesting plot line. As I have become a more involved reviewer I have found that books with originality are harder to come by. Notably this is why I read very little romantic fiction because you end up reading the same re-hashed story a number of times over. This book is like nothing I have read before and for that I implore you to purchase a copy and give it a read. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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