A number-one bestseller when it was first published in 1948, this powerful novel is a compelling vision of nineteenth-century America with timeless resonance.
Throughout a single day in 1892, John Shawnessy recalls the great moments of his life—from the battles of the Civil War to the politics of the Gilded Age, from the love affairs of his youth in Indiana to his homecoming as schoolteacher, husband, and father.
Shawnessy is the epitome of the place and period in which he lives, a rural land of springlike women,shady gamblers, wandering vagabonds,and soapbox orators. Yet here on the banks of the Shawmucky River, which weaves its primitive course through Raintree County,Indiana, he also feels and obeys ancient rhythms.
This panoramic epic of the nineteenth century in Raintree County—particularly of the Civil War and its effects—was produced after six years of research, writing, and revision. It continues to command attention and respect as a stylistically unique work of considerable force.
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"This is a hard book to review: it will definitely not be everybody's cup of tea. I had started it once years before, then set it aside, and finally read it at a point in my life when I had the time and the patience. It is massive! But I've never read anything at all like it. It's about America and Americans, Time, Fantasy, the 19th Century, and lots more. Ultimately I found it to be a fascinating, provocative, and important work of American literature. At this point in time the 1957 MGM movie adaptation is more famous than the source novel. That's a pity. The movie is interesting in its own way, although its really not very good. And it barely begins to capture the scope of the novel; its plot follows the novel's outline in only the most cursory fashion. The novel RAINTREE COUNTY is a challenge, for its size if nothing else. But, for me, it remains one of those handful of books that crept into my psyche and changed what I thought a book should be."
Karl (5 out of 5 stars)