I enjoy a bit of American history now and then. I once went down a Civil War rabbit hole. Now I find stories about the growth of the country interesting. The Language of Trees by Steve Wiegenstein is a tiny slice of the time period. I was sent a free copy for my honest review.
About The Language of Trees:
The inhabitants of Daybreak, a quiet 19th-century utopian community, are courted by a powerful lumber and mining trust and must search their souls as the lure of sudden wealth tests ideals that to some now seem antique. And the courtship isn’t just financial. Love, lust, deception, ambition, violence, repentance, and reconciliation abound as the citizens of Daybreak try to live out oft-scorned values in a world that is changing around them with terrifying speed.
About the Author:
Steve Wiegenstein is the author of Slant of Light (2012) and This Old World (2014). Slant of Light was the runner-up for the David J. Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction, and This Old World was a shortlisted finalist for the M.M. Bennetts Award in Historical Fiction. Steve grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and worked there as a newspaper reporter before entering the field of higher education. He now lives in Columbia, Missouri. Visit him online at https://stevewiegenstein.wordpress.com/.
I did not have the opportunity to read the first two books in the Daybreak Series but I can honestly say I don’t feel any particular loss. The Language of Trees stood along just fine. The author filled in any back story quite seamlessly and if you want to know the truth I was rather blind to the fact that there were other books – I somehow how just didn’t figure it out somehow. And obviously it didn’t have an impact on my reading enjoyment but I do now want to find time to read them – as if. I wish I could find a box of time – anybody?
The novel is about a Utopian town in Missouri that has been in existence for around 30 years. I can’t say that I got from descriptions that it was thriving but it was certainly surviving. The inhabitants were committed to the ideals of combining their funds and making improvements by committee. There are the usual troubles when you have people living in a small town but nothing that they can’t (so far) handle.
Then some men ins suits from back East come ’round looking to buy their trees. They are buying up all of the land they can to strip it and send the lumber back to build houses and stores and cities. And then they find a vein of silver and more greed sets in. The citizens of Daybreak have to decide if they want to do business with these man or to try and stay as they are. The thoughts of all of that money are also causing some people to rethink the communal ideals. Will the community survive? Will their commitment to sharing all hold firm?
There is a lot going on in the book. The discussions of the Utopian community, family issues, greed, love, lust and more. Mr. Wiegenstein has done his research and it shows with lots of period detail. The characters are all unique and despite their being of the 19th century they seem – most of them anyway – like people I would want to have dinner with. Most of them. There are of course a villain or two for their wouldn’t be a good story without one.
It’s an interesting book to read in today’s world as well. Greed, raping the forest, differences between the rich and the poor. You see what I mean. It’s a well written morality play full of wonderful prose and memorable characters.
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