Winterchill

Ernest J. Finney, Author William Morrow & Company $16.95 (239p) ISBN 978-0-688-08305-2
Finney writes about the salt of the earth in the tradition of Steinbeck. Wife-beating, hard-drinking James Clark and his moody, sensitive younger brother Elmo, pitted in rivalry over the same girl, work a rolling California plum orchard presided over by their crusty grandfather Jim. The land, held for three generations, but now slipping inexorably out of their grasp, is a curse for this luckless family. There are other losses too: the boys' mother walked out on them long ago; Grandpa Jim became estranged from his sister after a silly spat; Elmo will go on to fight in Vietnam to avoid his young bride, then come home shell-shocked, his skull fractured. This homespun, deceptively simple saga emerges like a jigsaw puzzle from the viewpoints of six different characters as it hops around from the 1950s through the '80s. It's a coming-of-age novel that keeps a sense of humor; in one scene Jim tells his girlfriend how beautiful she is, then promptly throws up. Without artifice, Finney ( Bird's Landing ) gives voice to his characters' rage, dreams, grief and love of the land. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
Paperback - 978-0-380-71101-7
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-0-87417-258-4
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