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  • Historical fiction at its best

    Family expectations hang heavy on Jake Alderdice, raised in late nineteenth century San Francisco by his domineering grandfather he is headed for a career in the family business. This conflicts with his ambition to achieve greatness in his own right as an artist. Following his grandfather’s death and the expected period of mourning Jake, his mother and his sister move to the resort town of Waxwood for the summer. Here he falls under the influence of Harland Stevens, a charismatic older man with links to a secret society that seeks to promote ‘true’ masculinity. As the summer draws to a close a dramatic incident will cause Jake to question all that he thought was true about his mentor and himself. This second instalment in Tam May’s series about the fortunes of the Alderdice family plays on several powerful themes. These include the stories families tell about their origins, the tensions created by rapid progress and what it means to be a man. May wraps this up in a convincing recreation of the United States as the country began to realise its power and potential at the same time as seeking a purpose. This shadows ideas and insecurities that would be played out over the coming century. This is historical fiction at its best, May creates a world that is both vastly different from our own and that holds some intriguing similarities. She peoples this with characters who must face the truth about themselves in order to live life on their own terms. Further instalments taking the story into the twentieth century with all the upheaval that will bring are eagerly anticipated.

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  • Fascinating

    Wow, impossible not to enjoy. At 19, Jake becomes the family matriarch and in charge of the business when his grandfather dies. Totally intriguing.

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