In the Fall
, 2001 - Fiction
- 511 pages
Compared by critics to William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy, Jeffrey Lent’s In the Fall is the most stunning debut to come along in years. Ambitious in scope and passionately executed, this epic novel is the rarest of things: a truly moving, emotionally honest, and intellectually satisfying American family.
In the twilight of the Civil War, Leah, an escaped slave, discovers Norman Pelham, a wounded soldier who lies dying in a battlefield outside Richmond. After she nurses him back to health, Norman brings her to his family farm in Vermont as his wife, and they begin a family. Now the mother of three, and however begrudgingly, accepted in the community, Leah travels back to the South of her birth and returns with a secret that threatens to destroy what she and Norman had created. Her son Jamie, passing for white, escapes his legacy and enters a world of petty bootlegging, achieving a kind of respectability in the Prohibition era, but also suffering wrenching losses. At the eve of the Great Depression his son, Foster, retraces the path taken by his grandmother and finally confronts the secret exposed by an unknown white uncle, the legacy of slavery, and the painful intricacies of race.