A plane crashes into the side of a Colorado mountain, a young shepherd comes in search of the maimed lion who has slaughtered many of his sheep, a priest is there searching for his soul. Each comes with his/her all-too-human wounds; each will have an impact on the other. These are the ingredients of a story rich in historical and political background, a sensitive examination of human frailty, and in the end, an illumination of the indominibility of the human spirit. Using a strong and distinctive voice, Elledge has done a superior job of scaling down world-sized conflicts to reveal the impact on the individuals who are left deeply altered by them. All in all, a very good read.
In this, his third novel, Jim Elledge displays a remarkable understanding of human weaknesses and strengths. Drawing from his knowledge of life and death in the internal strife of three European countries in the aftermath of insurrection and war, he weaves a fabric of diverse circumstances to bring three people across two continents where they meet in a tragedy on a plateau in the Colorado Rockies.With tender precision, the author examines the inner turmoil of an Irish priest who has strayed from his chosen path for the love of a good woman. In a torturous drunken scene of self-loathing, he confronts "the gangrene of my soul" in the form of regurgitated rye in a rusty basin. With "mea culpa" on his lips, he climbs the plateau to end his life and submit to the fires of eternal damnation.Elledge portrays a young refugee from a sheepherding family in the mountains of Spain who climbs the plateau to evade disgrace and seek redemption by killing the crippled cougar who slaughtered his uncle's sheep.A brash, hard-drinking, ex-wartime correspondent and her husband, recently-elected governor of Colorado, crash their private plane onto the same plateau. The governor dies but, though badly injured, the woman survives the crash. Deftly using the difficult segue of flashbacks in the minds of his characters, the author chronicles the events that have brought them to this turning point in their lives and leaves the reader with anticipatory thoughts of "sequel." William M. Barnes Author of "Nonesuch Chronicles"
Composer Maurice Ravel, who died in 1937, served in the Great War (1914-1918) Clearly the War had a profound impact upon him, giving his music great depths beneath its glistening surface. After the War he wrote La Valse, a work with one foot solidly planted in the old world of the Viennese waltz, and the other shifting uncertainly in the quicksand of the new. The music is at first luxuriant, retrospective, gracious and curvaceous, reminiscent of the waltz period of the 19th century. Imperceptibly, it becomes ever more propulsive and ever more violently unstable, until, in a final roof-threatening cataclysm, it crashes to a catastrophic conclusion. In similar fashion, Elledge has woven together the lives of a shepherd boy, a woman journalist and an alcoholic priest during a time of great tumult and change. For a time they, who have been profoundly affected by the ravages of war, dance together in a minor key on the mountains of Colorado. Out of the tumult of clashing forces, new hope arises for some, while tragedy strikes another. But the waltz goes on, even in a world where thousands will crash to a catastrophic conclusion during World War II. Elledge reminds us of this very human habit of continuing to dance, even when everything is uncertain, and he does so skillfully.Al Franzmeier, author of The Spiral Bridge