Second Lives: A Novel of the Gilded Age

Richard S. Wheeler, Author Forge $24.95 (348p) ISBN 978-0-312-86333-3
Set in Denver and Colorado's mining towns during the booming 1880s, Wheeler's latest (after Sierra, 1996) is a robust tale of six people struggling to make the best of their lives. Lorenzo the Magnificent is a mining genius, though his exuberant dreams and schemes always outpace his luck. Homer Peabody is a lonely, self-pitying bachelor lawyer. Beautiful Cornelia Kimbrough seeks a way out of a loveless marriage to an utterly indifferent tycoon. Despite an open, hopeful nature, farm girl Dixie Ball is hampered as a woman in a man's world. Young poet Yves Poulenc fancies achieving literary immortality after romantically dying of consumption. Rose Edenderry is self-destructively spending her life in saloons and strangers' beds. In the course of the saga, some find happiness and satisfaction while others spiral into despair. Wheeler's depiction of life's seemingly random disbursements of joy and sorrow, fulfillment and misery are realistic and gripping. In this tale of the gold rush and the Gilded Age, Wheeler delivers an entertaining lesson in how to mine happiness from the dross of disappointment and broken dreams. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
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