REVERBERATION, THE NOVEL

by V. B. HOLMES

Reverberation, The Novel

Author's Note

 
    When reading about the first half of the nineteenth century, it is interesting to note the similarities between issues of earlier times and those of today. The formation of political parties stimulated the use of surrogates and encouraged the slanderous campaign rhetoric that has developed into a twenty-first century art form. Nascent interest in women's rights, abortion, racial discrimination and injustice energized the formation of sympathetic support groups which now carry great political, social and economic weight. Radical religious leaders and their power to attract followers led to extreme manifestations of social change, many of which are accepted as the norm today.
      Awareness of these issues affected the development of Reverberation, The Novel. In spite of these influences, the story line basically remains the tale of two people who committed a crime and what happens to them as a result.
 
Summary

     August 18, 1828. A wealthy farmer, Jacob Hicks, dies. His friend, Squire Richard Holt, testifies that, on his deathbed, the deceased named his son, Maris, as his sole beneficiary. In a naive attempt to invalidate the questionable will by eliminating the witness, two disgruntled family members, Esther Hicks Latch and James Daunt, independently fire at the squire. One shot finds its mark.
     During her frantic escape from the scene, Esther falls and is seriously injured. Her indigent brother-in-law, James, is seen and accused of Holt's murder. As a posse closes in on him, he is rescued by Sally Morley, an unconventional young woman. She spirits him away to a liberal, utopian community led by Thaddeus Goodenough, a controversial, Bible-quoting preacher, who advocates common property and free love.
     Although James is married to Jacob Hicks’ pretty daughter, Margaret, he is attracted to the idiosyncratic Sally. Their relationship grows as he is assimilated into Pleasant Valley Farm where the orderly work routines, provocative conversations and intellectually-stimulating programs have a profound effect on him. James comes to recognize the man he would have been had circumstances not condemned him to a life of careless dissipation. However, the threat of capture is ever present. With the publication of his description and the offer of a reward, he realizes no refuge is safe and he is compelled to flee.
     Esther’s physical and mental condition deteriorates as the fallout from the murder of Richard Holt reverberates around the shooters. Her husband, Elias, becomes obsessed with capturing James. Her brother, Maris, faces a legal challenge to the verbal will and acts to ensure his inheritance against the efforts of his siblings to overturn the testimony in court. Sally’s passionate relationship with James forces her to deal with her past as well as with the consequences of their love affair. While trying to save James’ soul, the Reverend Goodenough, who reinterprets the Bible to validate his radical preachings, is obligated to evaluate his own truths.
     Reverberation, The Novel, is a story of love and friendship, greed and survival set amid the changing social, religious and philosophical mores of antebellum America.

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