Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Publication Date: April 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Book Summary: With the nation moving toward Civil War, James Turner, a charming, impulsive writer and lecturer, Charlotte, his down-to-earth bride, and Cabot, an idealistic Harvard-educated abolitionist 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 farming community out in the middle of nowhere isn't exactly the life Turner envisioned. Charlotte, confronted with the hardships of rural life, must mature in a hurry 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 to join the fight against slavery and his desire to stay near the woman he loves. When war finally breaks out, Missouri descends into its uniquely savage brand of conflict in which guerrilla bands terrorize the countryside while Federal troops control the cities, and in which neither side offers or expects quarter. Ultimately, each member of Daybreak must take a stand - both in their political and personal lives.My Thoughts: A very skillfully written historical fiction. If you are a fan in any way to historical fiction, this one is a must read! Slant of Light is written in the years just prior to and the beginning of the Civil War. A group of individuals take the writing of James Turner - Travels to Daybreak - and use it as a model to establish a "Utopian" society addressing the common good - all of this while the rest of the country is full of conflict and strife.
The whole story is based on this social experiment. James Turner meets his wife, Charlotte, while he is out on a lecture tour for his book. Also while on tour, to his delight, Turner gets asked to lead the establishment of this society when George Webb offers them land for this purpose. Turner sets off to get started, with plans to come back and get his wife. However, his wife decides to join him early. And, at a very opportune time, Charlotte is provided a chaperone from her father - Adam Cabot. Adam is an abolishonist that her father had saved from getting hanged. These are just a few of the many integral characters in this intricate novel. Wiegenstein masterfully created plot that involves many individuals, and was able to interweave these characters in such a way that all of them were very important to the story-line. He was able to describe each in a way that did not detract from the story, but add to it.
I am a lover of historical fiction written in the time of the Civil War. Weigenstein has taught me so much about this time in such an entertaining way. I go so wrapped up in the daily lives of the characters that I could not put the book down for long. The novel is very thought-provoking, and I found myself thinking about it even when I was not reading. I am still sifting through my thoughts on this one. I think I will carry this one around for quite some time. To me, that is a sign of a very adept author and a wonderful novel.
I loved that the author was able to not only tell a story about this society, provide it's interactions with the outside world in a time of struggle, but was also able to provide us with a well-written romance - a love triangle. This part was so fun to read. I felt tugs on my heart strings with Charlotte and Adam. In many ways I found that this romance was a necessary part of the novel - featuring the moral standards of the society. It demonstrated both the strengths and weaknesses of the society and its members.
I would definitely pick up another novel by Steve Wiegenstein. His writing is very easy to read, and appears straight forward. However, he always leaves you with something to ponder.
About the Author: Steve Wiegenstein grew up in the eastern Missouri Ozarks and roams its back roads every chance he gets. The Black River and the Annapolis Branch Library were his two main haunts as a kid, and they remain his Mecca and Medina to this day. He is a longtime scholar of the 19th century Icarian movement in America, which provided the inspiration for Slant of Light. He particularly enjoyed weaving the real-life story of Sam Hildebrand—the notorious Confederate bushwhacker who murdered one of Steve’s ancestors–into the novel. Steve and his wife, Sharon Buzzard, both academics, live in Columbia, MO. Slant of Light, the first book in his Daybreak series, is his first novel.