An intriguing read
Thornton Wilder was a prolific and highly acclaimed American writer, and this novel is among his best work.
The story involves two families in a tiny Illinois mining town at the beginning of the 20th century.
One man, highly thought of, and his friend who is a long way from highly thought of, are practising their shooting skills when one of them drops dead of a fatal wound.
Despite the improbability of the circumstances, there is a trial, a death sentence, and consequently a highly dramatic rescue.
In great depth the author paints an insightful picture of every character, and their connection to the two men, and in doing so shows us what small-town American life was like in those days.
A considerable portion of the story then moves to South America and Chile in particular, where the terrain is so steep that breathing becomes dangerously threatened, and so eventually does the life of the rescued character.
From then on the book returns to smalltown Illinois and the vastness of Chicago.
It examines the lives of everybody connected to this man, likewise their connection to the dead victim, and how they are all interlocked and influenced by the awful incident.
The author uses the last chapter of the book to explain the mysterious circumstances of the shooting, and gives us the future history of all the people involved.
Some are forever damaged, one assumes an extraordinary alias, and others simply move on with their lives. Three become extremely successful and famous.
The reference to the eighth day is interesting. The term can have several meanings, including a Biblical one.
However this story revolves continuously around the lives of the main characters, absorbing and full of surprises.