Friday, September 20, 2013

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

The Tilted World: A NovelThe year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf all in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents on the trail of a local bootlegger, they unexpectedly find an abandoned baby boy at a crime scene.

An orphan raised by nuns, Ingersoll is determined to find the infant a home, a search that leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A lonely woman married too young to a charming and sometimes violent philanderer, Dixie Clay has lost her only child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she's the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the missing agents. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows he is the enemy and must not be trusted.

Then a deadly new peril arises, endangering them all. A saboteur, hired by rich New Orleans bankers eager to protect their city, is planning to dynamite the levee and flood Hobnob, where the river bends precariously. Now, with time running out, Ingersoll, Ham, and Dixie Clay must make desperate choices, choices that will radically transform their lives-if they survive.

This was an interesting historical novel that did a good job of transporting the reader to another era, but had plot issues that didn’t quite allow it to realize its full potential.

The story takes place in the south, as a flood threatens to destroy an entire town. Since  it takes place during the Prohibition, there is the added mystery behind the whole bootlegging business, making it a very interesting read. The author obviously did substantial research, since there are very detailed descriptions of the whole process, but paced in a manner that they do not feel boring or too slow for the rest of the book.

The characters were interesting, as well. Dixie Clay, the female protagonist, is definite heroine material with the substantial amount of intelligence and courage to make us want to read about her. Ingersoll, the male protagonist, also makes us want to know more about him, and that’s one of the book’s faults, because we really do not get a full enough picture of him. This causes for the romance that arises between the two protagonists to feel “off”. It comes a little out of nowhere and feels forced all the way through. I think if the author had given us some further character development, it would have felt more organic.

It is an interesting book, so I don’t want to put anyone off reading it. Just keep in mind that it does have some faults, but it also has some lovely writing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great review which balances the positive and negative qualities of this book well. Thanks for sharing.