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An unparalleled and unforgettable story
on July 16, 2014
James Lee Burke's WAYFARING STRANGER is a richly imagined, sweeping tale that will take readers back to a time in America's history that still retained some of its innocence. The story invites readers to follow along with Weldon Avery Holland as he struggles to hang on to who he is, his values and his beliefs through war, corruption and when faced with the depths of evil that men will go to.
From a run-in with the Barrow Gang, to the final stages of the European Theater of World War II, to the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana, Weldon Holland's story is thrilling, suspense- and danger-filled, and will keep readers riveted. The narrative speaks of a country tainted by the fear of Communism, an elitist class of unscrupulous and unethical people envious and fearful of those not like them, and a man desperate to protect all that he has - his friends, the woman he loves, himself.
This is the first novel I've read by Author James Lee Burke, but it certainly won't be the last. His writing transported me into Weldon's world, a world that had both good and evil, darkness and light and all the varying shades of grey in between. The author painted the most incredible picture with his words. His landscape was sometimes beautiful and at others terrible, but it was so exquisitely detailed that I felt as if I was right there along with his characters as they struggled to uncover the truths about themselves, about those they want to trust, and about those they shouldn't.
I didn't anticipate making an emotional connection with this story or its characters. With the way the narrative was presented I expected to fall in love with writing, the setting, the history, the epic nature of the story. But I didn't expect it to allow for a bond with the characters or their plight. I thought I would simply be intrigued, my interest piqued with all that was happening. I knew I would be curious about who was behind it all, who was guilty, who was innocent, and whose behavior couldn't be easily defined. I did not imagine making any connection, let alone how strong a connection I did make.
I was drawn into Weldon Holland's story from the moment of his fascination with Bonnie Parker. But it wasn't until he met and saved Rosita Lowenstein that I began to get to know and to like him. He proved himself to be honorable, loyal, understanding, forgiving, trusting, and good-hearted but not a push-over. He was a fighter and was not afraid to go after what he wanted. He became a character I was rooting for and hoped would triumph in the end.
There are many layers to this story that I'm still thinking about. It was a love story. It was a story about human nature. It was a story about acceptance and forgiveness, about right and wrong, about actions and consequences. It was a story about being honorable and sticking to one's beliefs no matter how difficult. It was a story about what it means to be a hero. It was a story about redemption. And it was so much more.
I read this in one sitting and it was unputdownable. I didn't want break away from the story, to leave the world even for a moment. But it's a story that I will re-read and take my time with so as to be able to further explore some of those layers, to be able to follow some of the trains of thought I'd set aside in order to not distract myself from what was in front of me, and to be able to delve deeper into the many ideas the author presented.
WAYFARING STRANGER is a story that brought me to tears, made me think, took me to a world that was both exciting and horrifying, and left its mark, much like Bonnie Parker did on young Weldon Avery Holland.
It is a fascinating, beautiful, heartrending and masterfully written story that is unparalleled and absolutely unforgettable.