At the end of the Civil War, veteran Malcolm Hopeton returns home to find his farm in ruins and his wife and hired man missing. The resulting double murder impacts many in Hopeton’s rural community in Western New York. In A Slant of Light, Jeffrey Lent uses vivid, lyrical prose to gradually reveal layers of Hopeton’s crime, and the stories of those involved.
This is the first novel of Lent’s that I’ve read, and I’m glad I did. His writing reminds me of both Ron Rash and Charles Frazier – all write of both the earthiness and spirituality of farming and rural life. Lent’s words are truly beautiful.
This region of Western New York was known in the mid-nineteenth century as the “Burned-Over District” for the high number of radical evangelical movements that developed there during the Second Great Awakening, including the Shakers, Millerites, and early Latter Day Saints. Lent’s novel focuses on followers of the Publick Universal Friend, a fascinating religious leader who advocated celibacy, communal living, and gender equality.
The characters in A Slant of Light must choose between spirituality and earthly pleasure, between revenge and forgiveness. Readers are fortunate to be along for the ride.
Review Submitted by: Kaitlyn Grigsby
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: Published in 2015