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Hopeton is arrested, and Harlan is taken to recuperate at the farm where his sister Becca keeps house for widower August Swartout. The complexities of relationships past and present in this small, tightly knit western New York community unfold as various powerful men maneuver to gain clemency for Hopeton as the justified avenger of marital betrayal. Though it becomes clear that Wheeler was evil to the bone and had physically abused Bethany, her own father stigmatizes her as a woman "raised in the grace of the Lord [who] turned away.
Questions of faith, justice and forgiveness are palpable and pressing for Hopeton, August and Harlan, the trio whose consciousnesses dominate the narrative, although Lent gently sketches Bethany, Becca, and Wheeler's discarded lover, Alice Ann, from a further distance as women restless with their allotted roles. His prose is as magnificent as ever, capturing the light in a summer sky or the pain in a bereaved heart with equal clarity and beauty.
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The novel isn't so much resolved as halted by a closing scene that makes it clear none of these poignantly rendered characters has reached the ends of their journeys. More fine work from a writer who stirs both the head and the heart with powerful grace. His wife has run off with the hired man, but when they return to confront him, in minutes they're dead. From then on, the story is about Malcolm's impending trial. However, the latest from Lent After You've Gone is not a tale of lawyerly wizardry.
The SF Site Featured Review: Slant
Rather, it's a thoughtful, even pensive exploration of why the killings happened. The narrative is told slowly, laid out against the textures of a world that no longer exists: fields, crops, farm animals, hard work in an unchanging cycle as the year moves along its path. Many of Malcolm's neighbors are followers of a charismatic preacher, now deceased: the fervent religiosity of the Second Great Awakening of the midth century undergirds much of the discussion of Malcolm's crime VERDICT It is a virtue of this lovely book that its pace is unhurried.