Thursday, 30 June 2016

A Northern Gentleman by Lane Everett

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett, author of Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion, The Land Beyond Goodbye, and Don’t Look Down.

What We Thought: Drucker May is twenty-five years old and the privileged son of a wealthy banker. In line to take over the bank's presidency, he fritters away his time at his desk pretending to work. Determined not to repeat his father's life, he leaves the boredom of a certain future behind and sets off to find himself in 1890s America.

Through a series of adventures in various towns along the railroad line west from his home in Atlanta to the Californian coast, he comes to realise who he is and what he is capable of. This realisation is not always a pleasant one.

Drucker has many talents and abilities, deception of others and himself not being the least of them. Misunderstandings and uncorrected assumptions lead the various people he meets to thrust roles upon him; roles which, like that of future bank presiident, he soon wishes to escape.

Mistaken for a detective, he solves a mystery – though it takes him longer than it should since he's blinded by lust. Next he becomes a campaign manager for a politician, falls in love and gets stung in a disastrous poker game. Spiralling ever downward, he is led into further deceptions making the reader wonder just how far he will go before he finally sees himself in his true colours.

Drucker May is an engaging, if somewhat naive, character and A Northern Gentleman investigates his self-delusion and ultimate search for truth. Though set in the late 19th century, the historical aspect is lightly touched upon and hardly seems to matter. This is a story that could be happening any time, anywhere.

Part picaresque, part Wizard of Oz, this is a well-written (if occasionally overly explanatory) novel that carries hope even in the depths of despair. I read it with a dawning delight.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Novels dealing with Coming of Age and Self-Realisation.

Avoid if you dislike:
Episodic novels.

Ideal accompaniments: Cold cucumber soup, a glass of Mule Skinner whiskey and a railroad timetable.

Genre: General/Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction.

Available from Amazon

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