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Slant of Light: A Novel of Utopian Dreams and Civil War (The Daybreak Series) Paperback – April 8, 2012
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A thoroughly American story with more than regional appeal, Slant of Light is intellectually involving from the outset, and its flawed characters have a way of latching onto readers' emotions. Fans of quality historicals should enjoy seeing how the forces of history and human nature play out in this small corner of the nation. - Reading the Past
By creating flawed, but ultimately compelling characters and setting them against one another in a conflict in which there are varying degrees of right and wrong on most sides, Wiegenstein has produced a novel that opens a window on an era of American history and gave it the human face necessary to make it seem real for the reader. Put simply, this is a strong piece of historical fiction that allows the reader to get inside the issues and beliefs that drove the people to make the decisions that resulted, in a small way, in the country that emerged from the Civil War. - Library Thing
Wiegenstein's writing style is lyrical, easy-to-read and draws the reader in as they become acquainted with his well-defined characters. The story is full of surprises that keeps it compelling, and his use of historical fiction interwoven with fact helps make the story all the more interesting. - Alton Telegraph
“That remarkable novel that not only embeds us in a bygone time and place, but also wakens us to a wide and presently shared dawn of love, violence, frailty, and possibility.” —Steve Yates, author, Morkan’s Quarry
“Will appeal to fans of both historical fiction and nonfiction—or to anyone who appreciates a strong story told with a true and honest voice. Author Steve Wiegenstein carries us back to a complex time and invites us to share in the tale of a resilient people who are mightily challenged, yet struggle to overcome all.” —Dianna Graveman, editor, Missouri Writers’ Guild, and author, Images of America series
About the Author
Steve Wiegenstein grew up in the eastern Missouri Ozarks and roams its backwoods and roads every chance he gets. The Black River and the Annapolis Branch Library were his two main haunts as a kid, and they remain his Mecca and Medina to this day. He is a longtime scholar of the 19th century Icarian movement in America, which provided the inspiration for Slant of Light. He particularly enjoyed weaving the real-life story of Sam Hildebrand, the notorious Confederate bushwhacker who murdered one of Steve's ancestors--into the novel. Steve and his wife, Sharon Buzzard, both academics, live in Columbia, MO. Slant of Light, the first book in his Daybreak series, is his first novel.
More About the Author
I went to college at the University of Missouri. After a few years as a newspaper reporter, I returned to school and then got into the higher education biz, with teaching stints at Centenary College of Louisiana, Drury College (now "university"), Culver-Stockton College, and Western Kentucky University. I'm currently the director of graduate studies at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.
I'm an avid canoer, rafter, and kayaker on Missouri's float streams.....a longtime member, friend, and supporter of the Quincy, Illinois, Unitarian Church.....a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.....a hiker (ok, make that walker).....a board member of the Missouri Writers' Guild. I find pennies on the sidewalk more frequently than anyone I know.
Top Customer Reviews
The basic story follows the founding of Daybreak, a utopian community based on the ideas of James Turner, a popular writer and lecturer. He founds the town in late 1857 on land donated by George Webb, an ageing farmer who has found inspiration in Turner's ideas. Turner goes there with his wife, Charlotte, and a varied group of believers who migrate there from around the United States.
Over the next few years, the community struggles to establish itself and maintain the ideals of universal sharing and decision-making that are meant to be the mark of the group. They work at learning effective farming, producing goods like rope to raise money, and Turner continues to raise awareness through a newspaper and lecture tour. It is difficult, however, in the face of the growing intrigues of war which could be particularly nasty in border states like Missouri as well as the personal intrigues that occur whenever people gather together, no matter what their idealistic tendencies.
The plot is a strong one and Wiegenstein has a number of other things going for him. He is clearly an expert on the era and the area. Everything he describes seems very real.Read more ›
James Turner is a philosopher and itinerant lecturer who wrote a utopian novel called Daybreak that inspired a Missouri man to donate land in hopes of establishing a real life Daybreak. Turner's new bride, Charlotte, eager to escape a sad home and embark on something promising, rushes to join Turner in the Missouri Ozarks. A Harvard-educated abolitionist, Adam Cabot, recently tarred and feathered in Kansas for his anti-slavery work, decides to join the community as well, and these three characters provide the frame for the story. But the secondary characters are just as compelling and fleshed out -- the other residents who decide to join Daybreak, the suspicious neighbors who are uneasy with the commune -- and I felt like I knew everyone.
I will admit that the love triangle-ish-ness was my least favorite part of the story, but I've got some weird hangup about infidelity that I kind of think I need to explore in therapy or something. (Seriously -- I've not been affected by infidelity myself and I used to love hot torrid affairs in my novels but now just a whiff of cheating makes my stomach hurt!) Regardless, the love triangle wasn't the focus of the story, really, and it served to provoke some great mental debate about ethics, ideals, and obligations.
Wiegenstein's writing style is straight-forward, evocative but not flowery. I was lost to the world every time I picked up this book and I didn't want it to end. Even if you're not a historical fiction fan, consider picking up this novel -- this is a philosophical armchair escape that is grounded, accessible, and real.
I love stories that revolve around the civil war and this book effortlessly pulls readers right into this time period. I found myself drawn to the characters. James was a character who had me volleying between like and dislike. While I thought his idea was interesting, I ultimately found myself very disappointed in him, and felt like his wife Charlotte was much stronger than he was, which was evident in the decision she made regarding Adam.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was fantastic.....I'm so glad I had both books so I could flow from one to the other without having to wait to see what would happen next!
A DEFINITE RECOMMENDATION!
A good novel centered around the beginnings of the Civil War in Missouri.Published 5 months ago by Rich Keppner
Steve is an amazing author. His book was also one I could not put down. He has a nack for this and I am proud to know him as a person and an author. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Darren Hampton
A riveting and heartbreaking account of the Civil War in the Ozarks of southeastern Missouri.Published 19 months ago by History Buff
This is a must-read for any Missourian, history buff or lover of historical fiction. Meticulously researched, very smart, very accurate. I learned a lot.Published 21 months ago by Amy
I am very pleased with this well written historical novel. It is written about the area I grew up in. Read morePublished 24 months ago by darf
Captures society in the Ozarks of 19th C. Many areas these days in the Ozarks are not much different than in the 1800's.Published on April 6, 2013 by Marie E, Erickson