The Wreckage of Eden

Bellevue Literary. Jun. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781942658382. pap. $16.99. F
OrangeReviewStarEden, the young United States, is indeed wrecked in this historical novel by award-winning author Lock, the fifth in his "American Novels" series after A Fugitive in Walden Woods. The narrator, army chaplain Robert Winter, has served the spiritual needs of soldiers during the Mexican American War, the Mormon Rebellion, and, finally, the Raid on Harpers Ferry. After seeing so much carnage, he is profoundly disillusioned and eventually loses his Lutheran faith as well as faith in the country. Perceptive and contemplative, Robert recounts his thoughts and experiences mainly through letters to his unrequited love, poet Emily Dickinson, also telling her how encounters with Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, and Ralph Waldo Emerson have shaped his life.
VERDICT Bringing the 1840–60s to life with shimmering prose, Lock depicts Robert's emotions as he tries to keep a steady head amid the growing tensions between slave owners and abolitionists and cope with the violence he witnesses and ultimately commits.

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