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In this work, Richmond-based author Thomas Nelson Page describes the struggles of a young Southern man, Gordon Keith, whose estate was stripped from him following the Confederacy's defeat. After his father is reduced to being a paid overseer of the crumbling estate, Keith vows to earn enough money to repurchase it from opportunistic Northern carpet-baggers and return it to its former glory.
The protagonist does this by harnessing Northern capital in Southern mining ventures, though along the way he is faced with an array of serious personal and professional challenges by unscrupulous materialists within New York elite circles. Primary among the antagonists is Ferdy Wickersham, who would appear to be Page's archetype of the conniving, dishonorable Yankee, who will literally stop at nothing to acquire enough money and status to secure a position within the elite class. The addition of a series of romantic subplots allows Page to also contrast what he depicts as the compromised and debased state of Northern romance and matrimony with his idealistic (and arguably traditional) view of women.
While the book is an enjoyable read, Page is clearly unwilling to engage here in any meaningful criticism of Southern civilization. For a more balanced fictional look at late 19th and early 20th century Virginia, the reader would be better off looking to Page's compatriot, Ellen Glasgow, who strove to counter the romanticized Southern idealism of authors such as Page.
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