This just in from Kirkus
A SLANT OF LIGHT [STARRED REVIEW!]
Another keening, moving novel steeped in American history and the rhythms of country life from Lent (After You've Gone, 2009, etc.). It opens with a scene of shocking violence, as Malcolm Hopeton confronts Amos Wheeler, the hired hand who plundered his farm and stole his wife, Bethany, while he was fighting in the Civil War. Hopeton kills Wheeler intentionally and Bethany by accident, injuring his young helper, Harlan Davis, who tries to stop him. Hopeton is arrested, and Harlan is taken to recuperate at the farm where his sister Becca keeps house for widower August Swartout. The complexities of relationships past and present in this small, tightly knit western New York community unfold as various powerful men maneuver to gain clemency for Hopeton as the justified avenger of marital betrayal. Though it becomes clear that Wheeler was evil to the bone and had physically abused Bethany, her own father stigmatizes her as a woman "raised in the grace of the Lord [who] turned away." The truth is a lot more complicated, we see, as Hopeton's memories of his early encounters with both Bethany and Wheeler suggest many unsavory secrets hidden among followers of the charismatic religion founded by the Public Friend (a female divine clearly modeled on the Shakers' Mother Ann Lee). Questions of faith, justice and forgiveness are palpable and pressing for Hopeton, August and Harlan, the trio whose consciousnesses dominate the narrative, although Lent gently sketches Bethany, Becca, and Wheeler's discarded lover, Alice Ann, from a further distance as women restless with their allotted roles. His prose is as magnificent as ever, capturing the light in a summer sky or the pain in a bereaved heart with equal clarity and beauty. The novel isn't so much resolved as halted by a closing scene that makes it clear none of these poignantly rendered characters has reached the ends of their journeys. More fine work from a writer who stirs both the head and the heart with powerful grace.
February 2nd from Library Journal (starred review)
After four years of bloodshed, Civil War veteran Malcolm Hopeton returns home to upstate New York where he discovers that his farm has been abandoned and looted. His wife has run off with the hired man, but when they return to confront him, in minutes they're dead. From then on, the story is about Malcolm's impending trial. However, the latest from Lent (After You've Gone) is not a tale of lawyerly wizardry. Rather, it's a thoughtful, even pensive exploration of why the killings happened. The narrative is told slowly, laid out against the textures of a world that no longer exists: fields, crops, farm animals, hard work in an unchanging cycle as the year moves along its path. Many of Malcolm's neighbors are followers of a charismatic preacher, now deceased: the fervent religiosity of the Second Great Awakening of the mid-19th century undergirds much of the discussion of Malcolm's crime VERDICT It is a virtue of this lovely book that its pace is unhurried. Lent pays special attention to the matters most important to that particular time and place. For lovers of historical fiction or simply those who appreciate strong writing.
From the Bloomsbury Spring 2015 catalog:
From the author of the bestseller In the Fall, an epic historical novel that fearlessly addresses the largest questions of love, justice, and how to live.
At the close of the Civil War, weary veteran Malcolm Hopeton returns to his home in western New York State to find his wife and hired man missing and his farm in disrepair. A double murder ensues, the repercussions of which ripple through a community with spiritual roots in the Second Great Awakening. Hopeton has gone from the horrors of war to those far worse, and arrayed around him are a host of other people struggling to make sense of his crime. Among them is Enoch Stone, the lawyer for the community, whose spiritual dedication is subverted by his lust for power; August Swarthout, whose wife has left earthly time and whose eye is set on eternity; and a boy who must straddle two worlds as he finds his own truth and strength. Always there is love and the memory of love that is as haunting as the American pastoral Eden that Lent has so exquisitely rendered in this unforgettable novel.
A Slant of Light is a novel of earthly pleasure and deep love, of loss and war, of prophets and followers, of theft and revenge, in an American moment where a seemingly golden age has been shattered. This is Jeffrey Lent on his home ground and at the height of his powers.