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Indiana Gothic Paperback – April 20, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Paperback, April 20, 1999
$786.25 $11.88
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brock calls his first book "a true story, reconstructed," in which the facts form "a line of buoys in a sea of my own imagination." And those lurid facts, all on their own, would tell a thriller-worthy tale: two sisters, Allie and Maggie, between whom cold rivalry far outstripped affection; a passionate and long-lasting affair between Allie and her brother-in-law, Maggie's husband, Ham; a love child, purposefully conceived and in a stroke of gross audacity named after his true father; a murder in which Ham was literally "gunned down on Main Street" by Allie's enraged husband, Link; and an eventful murder trial attended by both sisters in "full widow's weeds." What uniquely qualifies Brock to tell this tale is the fact that Ham was his great-grandfather. There is a certain timely piquancy, too, in the portrait of the author's forebear, a charismatic, indefatigably popular politician with a "rambunctious arrogance" and a weakness for women. Unrestrained in his psychological speculations, Brock sketches Ham and the entire cast of country doctors, hired hands, frosty matriarchs and corn farmers in vivid color. The depiction of rural life in Davies County, Indiana, in the early years of this century transports the reader. Although arguably less a work of history than a novel based on actual events, this is a quick flying read that is sure to entertain. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Unhappy marriages, adulterous betrayals, tangled family relationships, a child born out of wedlock, and, finally, the murder of a local politician with a promising futureAall are part of this lively tale of life in Indiana at the beginning of this century. Brock, a freelance journalist, would like us to believe that this is "a true story, reconstructed." His narrative is not nonfiction but rather an imaginative re-creation of a story from his family history, based on at best a partial record of events; the trial testimony, for example, is fashioned from bits and pieces of newspaper accounts, and Brock's explorations of his characters' thoughts and emotions follow the conventions of traditional fiction. Better to have labeled the book as an account based upon a true story. For larger public libraries.ABrooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (April 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385530951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385530958
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,432,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Indiana Gothic" closely resembles the plot of any number of soap operas or prime time dramas, except this "plot" really happened in early 20th century America. Pope Brock takes a long-held family secret and turns it into a riveting drama of adultery, jealousy, and murder. Young up-and-coming politician Ham Dillon becomes involved with his wife's older and married sister, fathers her child, and ultimately dies for it at the hands of her tortured husband. The ensuing trial of his brother-in-law and its use of the insanity plea only climaxes a local history that never fails to entertain.
Since this story was a closely kept secret in Brock's family, he is forced to create various key conversations between the participants. In fact, Brock's ill-chosen use of rather florid language to capture these dialogues almost turns this book into a novel.
What saves this from becoming just another interesting piece of period fiction is Brock's indepth look into the local politics of small town America at the turn of the century. Fortunately, the trial itself was well-documented, and this adds a ring of authenticity to the book. Brock also obviously researched the myriad aspects of daily life during this time period and he uses this knowledge to ground the events in a realistic environment. Despite Brock's need to "fabricate" significant conversations, this book does eventually succeed as an important piece of local history.
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Format: Hardcover
Indiana Gothic paints a picture of the consequences of adultery and of murder in southwestern rural Indiana in the early 1900s. Although the book is a work of fiction, the events have an historical basis. The author, who is descended from one of the principal characters, uses the known facts to weave an absorbing story of passion and its devastating results. In doing so, he exposes the wickedness of human nature.
Author Pope Brock portrays Daviess County, Indiana, when farming and church activities dominated people's lives. The reader is caught up in making apple butter, planting and harvesting corn, or milking cows. The Mud Pike United Brethren church reminds us of a time when men sat on one side and women on the other. And the young people's box-lunch auction provided the highlight of the social season.
We follow the characters in their daily lives as the doctor makes his rounds of house calls and the vigilantes right the wrongs of their community. We are transported on trolleys, on the railroad, by horse and buggy, and on the first home delivery of mail. We listen in on the "party line" gossip.
In this story the fodder for gossip is enormous, especially after the murder of one of the prominent citizens, Albert Hamlet Dillon. The murder, brought on by an adulterous affair with his wife's sister and the aftermath of the trial that ensues, disrupts this small Indiana community, as well as, the lives of all who are touched by this affair.
For a glimpse into life in the early 1900s and the torment, torture, exhilaration, and passion of an adulterous affair, I recommend this book highly. The only question that faces the reader is: What is true and what is fabricated? However, Pope Brock invents dialog that moves the story in a logical, easy to read fashion, thus the reader is caught up in the characters' lives and times blending truth and fiction into a powerful portrait which seduces us away from the question.
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Format: Hardcover
As many reviewers have noted, Brock does a stellar job of evoking the era of the early 1900's in Daviess County. It is a testament to his intense research that Brock is able to evoke the era so vividly. I must admit that the intensity of this book snuck up on me. I was slowly drawn into the lives of the Dillons and Hales. Before I knew it I found I had an extremely hard time putting the book down and rushed back to it as soon as I was able. I think what most impressed me was the fine line Brock walks between fact and fiction. Brock takes the "skeleton" of the skeleton in the family closet, gives it heart and muscle by using actual testimony and newspaper accounts of the events and then fleshes it out with period imagery and ambiance. The result is a body of work that makes me care about the Dillons and Hales. In fact, I wish I knew more details about their descendants' lives than Brock gives me in the epilogue. And there was no need to sensationalize the events; the facts spoke for themselves. I look forward to more of Pope Brock's books.
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Format: Hardcover
If tales of murder and mystery are your thing, or if you're into historical novels that transport you to another era, you'll LOVE this book. But more important, even if you're not interested in works of that ilk, you'll STILL love this book-- simply because it's so beautifully written. As so many others at this site have commented, it's a real page turner ... and who can't resist that? And the "story" is made even more engrossing because Brock makes it so rich in detail. I have also read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," which is somewhat similar, but found Brock's book to be far more engaging. He is a very gifted writer, so don't miss out on this terrific read! (I actually missed my subway stop once while reading it, as I was so "carried away.")
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