From one of America's most accomplished and acclaimed fiction writers, a spectacularly riveting novel based on a real-life multiple murder by a con man who preyed on widows - a story that has haunted Jayne Anne Phillips for more than four decades.
In Chicago in 1931, Asta Eicher, mother of three, is lonely and despairing, pressed for money after the sudden death of her husband. She begins to receive seductive letters from a chivalrous, elegant man named Harry Powers, who promises to cherish and protect her, ultimately to marry her and to care for her and her children. Weeks later, all four Eichers are dead.
Emily Thornhill, one of the few women journalists in the Chicago press, becomes deeply invested in understanding what happened to this beautiful family, particularly to the youngest child, Annabel, an enchanting girl with a precocious imagination and sense of magic. Bold and intrepid, Emily allies herself with a banker who is wracked by guilt for not saving Asta. Emily goes to West Virginia to cover the murder trial and to investigate the story herself, accompanied by a charming and unconventional photographer who is equally drawn to the case.
Driven by secrets of their own, the heroic characters in this magnificent tale will stop at nothing to ensure that Powers is convicted. Mesmerizing and deeply moving, Quiet Dell is a tragedy, a love story, and a tour de force of obsession and imagination from one of America's most celebrated writers.
©2013 Jayne Anne Phillips (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
Substitue internet sites for old singles ads and you get the basic problem of how do you know if someone is who they present themselves to be? I like a good mystery, however, in this book the story is basically known at the beginning. The book is based upon (and in fact a quick search shows it follows the facts of the case closely) a true story. What made this so great to listen to is the language. The tone, the characters, even the whole tidy way things turn out was...well, right. It fit and yet was suprising. It caputered a time when social convention was quite clear and adhered to in appearance if not in fact. The whole thing could have been a sickening romance except that given the gruesome, tragic nature of the factual events, the dignity, kindness and humanity of the fictional characters gave balance to what would have otherwise been a revolting story of man at his worst.
This listen is a slow, meant-to-be savored listen. Its appeal will most likely not be universal, but for those who have the time it is truly an enjoyable listen. No junk fiction nausea, hangover or guilt. The reader did a great job in that her voice was never a distraction, she was believeable and her tone, the words and content all fit together quite beautifully. Would give it five stars but I feel obliged to save those for the truly exceptional.
The basis of this book is a true life grisly story so I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't want something too lurid but had read very good reviews about the book so bought it. I am so glad I did. The author's writing is so elegant and I loved the way she weaves fiction into the facts of the story. If she had just stuck to the facts of the story it would not have been half as interesting. While some people might find the supernatural parts of the story a little strange I thought it was an affecting way to bring out the special personality of the youngest child in this tragic story.
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