Against the Wind

Red Hen. Sept. 2019. 296p. ISBN 9781597098359. $16.95. F
DEBUT Against a backdrop of wind-farm aesthetics and politics, plus the Quebec separatist movement, Tilley introduces a small but fascinating cast of characters whose lives intertwine intellectually, politically, and romantically. Ralph, a lawyer for the energy industry, is about to retire and wants to win back Lynn, an antiturbine activist and a love from decades back. Lynn is married to dodgy professor Jean-Pierre, who is having a long-term affair with a government minister, Monique. Then Ralph meets and (almost) dates Monique: it’s not just a love triangle but a love quadrangle. Add in Jules, a transgender teen with a passion for turbines and keeping Lynn and Jean-Pierre together against all odds, and Dieter, an engineer and absolute enemy of Ralph and unsuccessful suitor of Lynn, and the cast is complete. No spoiler: who ends up with whom works itself out.
VERDICT The writing is brilliant and economical, especially about the environment, and there’s all sorts of information here for the taking, but essentially this is a novel of character. And a very good one. Unbelievably, this is a first novel from an author with a PhD in physics from Harvard. One can hope there will be many more
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