Richter, Conrad. The Town. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970.
Reason read: to finish the series started in March in honor of Ohio becoming a state.
When we rejoin Sayward she is in her late forties and has given birth to ten children. Nine have survived. She is witness to the transformation of the wilderness into a civilized community but she can remember when she started her young life in the deep woods of Ohio with trees all around. In awe she watches as the necessities of a communal existence blossom into a church, school, meeting house, and grist mill. The canal becomes a focal point as brick structures replace wooden ones. She can remember when it all started – her family looking to stave off hunger by pushing west in the hopes of cultivating richer soils into bountiful gardens. The Trees told of isolation while The Fields saw settlements encroaching on the family’s privacy until finally they realized the need for one another was a good thing and the Town is born.
Even though most of Sayward’s children are grown with families of their own, in The Town the reader spends the majority of time with Sayward’s youngest child, Chancey. He is a strange child, afraid of everything; paranoid and preferring to be alone. He is so dissimilar to his siblings he strongly believes he is adopted. His failure to understand any member of his family is borderline obsessive. When meeting strangers he even gives them a false name. His claims his weak heart doesn’t allow him to walk very far. Soon a dark family secret turns out to be his greatest heartbreak. Honestly, I found him to be a difficult character to like.
Interesting to note: Portius is initially overlooked for a position as judge because of his agnostic views.
I don’t think it is a spoiler to say the mysterious disappearance of Sulie in The Trees is finally resolved in The Town.
Quote I liked, “She seemed to be writing on the night” (p 305).
Setlist: “Fly Up,” “The Lady of Loti Polka,” “On Nesbo’s Lovely Mount,” “Moses’s Funeral March,” and “The River Between.”
Author fact: Richter was born in Pennsylvania but moved to New Mexico.
Book trivia: The Town received a Pulitzer Prize.
Nancy said: Pearl said Richter’s stories have to be read in order.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Big Ten Country: the Literary Midwest (Ohio)” (p 30).