Set in the remote mining country of West Virginia in the late twenties, Lick Creek is the compelling story of a fiery young woman, Emily Jenkins, and what happens when progress -- and tragedy -- comes to her family's farm. Brad Kessler has a generous and keen eye for natural landscape and its power in human life. In his profound, dramatic first novel, he explores the complex intersections of faith, tradition, and innovation.
After the coal mine deaths of her father, brother, and the first man she loved, Emily struggles to support herself and her mother. When construction begins on the power lines, she blames the intruders for everything that has gone awry -- for her mother's increasing withdrawal from life and for lives already lost. Then, an electrical worker is struck by lightning. Brought to their farmhouse unconscious and badly injured, Joseph is taken in by Emily's mother, and Emily is seduced by the mystery of his past, his immigration from Russia, his own mother's deportations, and the world of immigrants forced to flee persecution in their homelands.
Moving from romance to high drama, Kessler illuminates the role of electricity in the transformation of rural life and the particular electricity between two vastly different people whose worlds and passions collide.
She wakes in winter to the scrape of iron in the stove, her mother bringing embers back to life from their night's dying. She watches later through frosted panes her father and brother lean into darkened snow, each with his own tin bucket, the two like cutouts of each other, one smaller but with the same stooped back. Their lanterns swing into dark. In April, when the mornings warm, she blankets the pony and trails them from a distance downhollow, all the way where the Lick Creek Road meets the Two Mile Road. She paces the pony so they won't see her behind, and she watches them descend the talus toward the coal camp, and there she'll wait in a copse of poplars, looking down at the rows of homes with men filing from them. She tries to keep track of her father and brother, but they become lost with other lanterns, flitting and wheeling through trees, like a procession of pilgrims carrying candles toward the mouth of the mine.
She found her hollow once on a ...
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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