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Precocious twelve-year-old Louisa Mae Cardinal lives in the hectic New York City of 1940 with her family. Then tragedy strikes -- and Lou and her younger brother, Oz, must go with their invalid mother to live on their great-grandmother's farm in the Virginia mountains. Suddenly Lou finds herself coming of age in a new landscape, making her first true friend, and experiencing adventures tragic, comic, and audacious. But the forces of greed and justice are about to clash over her new home...and as their struggle is played out in a crowded Virginia courtroom, it will determine the future of two children, an entire town, and the mountains they love.
David Baldacci lives with his family in Virginia. He and his wife have founded the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. He invites you to visit him at www.davidbaldacci.com and his foundation at www.wishyouwellfoundation.org.
HBaldacci is writing what? That waspish question buzzed around publishing circles when Warner announced that the bestselling author of The Simple Truth, Absolute Power and other turbo-thrillersDan author generally esteemed more for his plots than for his characters or proseDwas trying his hand at mainstream fiction, with a mid-century period novel set in the rural South, no less. Shades of John Grisham and A Painted House. But guess what? Clearly inspired by his subjectDhis maternal ancestors, he reveals in a foreword, hail from the mountain area he writes about here with such strengthDBaldacci triumphs with his best novel yet, an utterly captivating drama centered on the difficult adjustment to rural life faced by two children when their New York City existence shatters in an auto accident. That tragedy, which opens the book with a flourish, sees acclaimed but impecunious riter Jack Cardinal dead, his wife in a coma and their daughter, Lou, 12, and son, Oz, seven, forced to move to the southwestern Virginia farm of their aged great-grandmother, Louisa. Several questions propel the subsequent story with vigor. Will the siblings learn to accept, even to love, their new life? Will their mother regain consciousness? AndDin a development that takes the narrative into familiar Baldacci territory for a gripping legal showdownDwill Louisa lose her land to industrial interests? Baldacci exults in high melodrama here, and it doesn't always work: the death of one major character will wring tears from the stoniest eyes, but the reappearance of another, though equally hanky-friendly, is outright manipulative. Even so, what the novel offers above all is bone-deep emotional truth, as its myriad charactersDeach, except for one cartoonish villain, as real as readers' own kinDgrapple not just with issues of life and death but with the sufferings and joys of daily existence in a setting detailed with finely attuned attention and a warm sense of wonder. This novel has a huge heartDand millions of readers are going to love it. Agent, Aaron Priest. 600,000 first printing; 3-city author tour; simultaneous Time Warner Audiobook; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Turkey; world Spanish rights sold. (One-day laydown, Oct. 24) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Baldacci (Total Control) turns from political thrillers to historical fiction in this affecting novel whose richly textured setting of southwestern Virginia in the 1940s draws on the reminiscences of his mother and grandmother. After a car accident kills their father and leaves their mother unresponsive, 12-year-old Lou Cardinal and her younger brother, Oz, go to live with their great-grandmother Louisa. Wrestling a living from the mountain farm is hard work, but slowly a love for the mountains seeps into Lou's being. The novel's villains are corporations that plunder the mountains' coal and lumber resources before seeking profits elsewhere. Louisa's refusal to sell her land pits her against her impoverished neighbors as well as a powerful company. Defended by a local lawyer and family friend, her case appears hopeless. The denouement may be too tidy, but readers won't object. Whether Baldacci's fans will enjoy this change of pace remains to be seen, but readers of historical fiction will welcome his debut in the genre. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/00.]DKathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Compelling...stirring...an old-fashioned coming-of-age story...with plenty to savor". -- People "RM"