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Book Review: Slant of Light

By Anovelsource @thenovellife
Book Review: Slant of LightA compelling, intimate look at a utopian society at the brink of the Civil War. James Turner is an author and speaker whose book, Travels to Daybreak, has led to the donation of land in the Missouri Ozarks and the subsequent development of the utopian town of Daybreak.  Charlotte is Turner's new bride and ardent supporter of his beliefs and cause. Adam Cabot is a Harvard-educated abolitionist saved from a hanging (after being tarred and feathered) by Charlotte and her father.  Charlotte's dad requests Adam to escort her to the town of Daybreak where Adam decides to become one of the founding members.
The flawed characters in Slant of Light are drawn with an artist's brush with muted lines.  At times the narrator takes us into the heart of Turner and his human characteristics.  When Turner's leadership takes on a role of master/boss/owner, it is Cabot and Charlotte who help temper his flaws.  We see Charlotte as down-to-earth, practical and devoted while Cabot is idealistic and a friend to most everyone. The secondary characters add a certain depth to the novel from Sam Hildebrand, real live bushwacker from the Civil War era to Marie Mercadier, French immigrant and only single female in the town for several months.
Quote regarding human nature:
When Turner becomes aware that a resident of Daybreak, Cantwell, is planning to leave, he requests  an ally in Cabot at the town meeting ~
Cabot watched the faces of the crowd as Cantwell stomped off. He read their minds in their changing expressions: first the painful pleasure of a lanced boil--Cantwell is gone!--then giddiness at the ease with which it happened--so fast! Just like that!--then a moment's remorse--He wasn't such a bad fellow after all. His wife deserves better.--ending with uncertainty--If Cantwell can get thrown out with such ease, what about me? Sent off with seventy-four dollars to my name. And in that sequence of expressions he saw the group move from a band of equals to a group of workers with a boss, looking up at Turner with worker eyes, waiting to be told what to do.

What I liked:
  • learning more about the dreams of a utopian society from the pre-Civil War time
  • the Missouri Ozarks and landscape of Slant of Light
  • references to Emerson, Wordsworth and other utopian believers
  • the very real cultural battles portrayed of that era - much has been written about the Civil War, black v. white; notsomuch about the immigration of Germans, Irish, French and how they were and were not accepted
What I would have liked better:
  • there were instances of foreshadowing that never materialized into what I expected or did not feel as though it was fleshed out; for example a secondary character Herb Webb, appears to make Charlotte and Marie quite uncomfortable and allusions are made to something in the horizon ~ perhaps I just read too much into the perceived danger of Herb Webb....
  • there is a love triangle or rather quadrangle that does not further the storyline and reactions to such did not feel real to me
In a Word:  perception
Book Review: Slant of Light
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Publisher: Blank Slate Press | Published: April 8, 2012
308 pages | Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours ~ Thank you for the complimentary review copy from the publisher. 

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