An in­trigu­ing read

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - — Lee Stephenson

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.

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