Saturday, January 15, 2011


Robb Forman Dew

This trilogy is absorbing reading. I read the three books just managing to stop for the essentials of every day life so eager was I to find out what would happen next in the life of the Scofield clan of Washburn, Ohio. Dew calls Washburn a town about which "people are incurious" and then over the course of her three books makes her readers insatiably curious about these ordinary people in an ordinary town living ordinary lives - which we soon realize are extraordinary in the sense that all lives are extraordinary, even, and to each of us, especially our own.

Along with plot and characterizations that weave a spell, Dew's writing is also quite beautiful, at times elegiac. I haven't been so intrigued with Ohio since I read Winesburg, Ohio years ago. In fact, I'm curious to reread that slender volume (compared to Dew's books) to see how the two diverge or agree.

Dew weaves in the times people are living through and how those times impinge on their lives, for the most part deftly, though in the last book of the trilogy less fluidly.  In that book I did find myself wondering how she could know the inner workings of actual people's minds, marriages, and lives (Werner von Braun, for example) and sometimes simply was eager to get back to the more real fictional people she had left in limbo while presenting the context of the times  However, that is a minor quibble with three books that created a world of people so tangible that I feel I have shared their lives and almost expect that I could go to Washburn, knock on the door of one of the Scofield's homes, find the latest generationl there and happy to chat with me over coffee, filling me in on the latest Scofield lore about which I will, until that eventuality, remain insatiably curious.

Rockport Public Library

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