Beth's Reviews > Raintree County

Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr.
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's review
Aug 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: stuff-i-love, fiction
Read in July, 2011

Herman Wouk wrote in his intro to the edition I have that this is the Great American Novel. Well, maybe not, but it IS a great novel. This is one of those books that you could open at nearly any page and find something wonderful to quote. Lockridge creates his characters as inextricably tied to the very land of Raintree County; it shapes them, gives them life, calls them home, and helps them know their own identities. Its chronological setting is the latter half of the 19th century, with its center as the Civil War. Lockridge sees the War as the major creation (of a nation) event of the 19th century, and he's convincing in that. You can't help but applaud the protagonist as he loves and suffers and philosophizes and grows old. One negative thing: you absolutely must suspend disbelief any time you're reading conversations between friends in this novel. Lockridge's characters are all philosophers, it seems, and they don't converse so much as they take turns giving speeches! In that, though, it reminds me of epics--figures in ILIAD, ODYSSEY, AENEID, BEOWULF, SONG OF ROLAND, NIEBELUNGENLIED, PARADISE LOST, and a host of others give speeches and boasts, and perhaps that is why Lockridge's impulses were to follow that tradition. In any case, this is a book for pondering.
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