John Wesley Elder lived and loved during the American war of independence. He married, raised a family and finally died and was buried in a tiny cemetery. But he’s only dead, not gone, as Doug Lucas’ Conversations with a Dead Man begins.
The story has a quiet intimate feel to it, long gaps between paragraphs like the natural pauses of dialog. We’ll sit a while and drink maybe as the old man reminisces on the past. There’s a depth of history in this tale too, beautifully researched yet always given in a personal, personable manner. John values his freedom, but doesn’t view it in terms of politics or war. Instead he describes the struggle of family and home as war overtakes them, the basic needs for food and drink, the trials of long journeys, and the regular world which stays the same for all it seems to change. Taxes still to be paid. Mouths to be fed.
John’s love for an Indian girl, man’s prejudice, the fine art of barter, the meaning behind common phrases, the characters who history has made famous, and a way of life long lost, all are vividly recreated in this story, quietly told, without rancor or silver coating. And a silver lining shines through filled with honest love and human kindness.
This book is definitely different, a quietly intelligent, leisurely read, gently convincing and convicting and wisely informative.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to find and “buy” a free ecopy of this novel.