A Peculiar Grace

Jeffrey Lent, Author
Jeffrey Lent, Author . Atlantic Monthly $25 (395p) ISBN 978-0-87113-965-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-0543-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-5543-9
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-4001-2543-2
Paperback - 395 pages - 978-0-8021-4366-2
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Family-fracturing secrets are at the heart of Lent's luminous third novel, a transcendent story about the healing power of love and art. Two decades after an intense romance curdles, hermetic Hewitt Pearce is living in his family's rural Vermont home, firing up his tractor for the occasional two-mile trip to the village, sometimes hiding in his hay barn, and producing prized custom ironwork when the spirit moves him. Upheaval arrives in the form of Jessica, a psychologically troubled waif with mysterious connections to Hewitt's late artist father. Then Hewitt learns that Emily, the girl he loved years earlier and whose life he has tracked from afar, is now a widow. Evocative flashbacks reveal his family's turbulent history, including Hewitt's days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll on a commune and his dark period of "death-by-whisky drinking" after breaking up with Emily. This sympathetic depiction of a decent man wrestling with his demons while deciding whether to revive an old love or open himself to a new lover is less visceral than Lent's astonishing debut, In the Fall , and less gritty than his second novel, Lost Nation , but it's no less magisterial and every bit as beautifully written. (Aug.)

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