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A Slant of Light

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  742 ratings  ·  136 reviews
The powerful new work from one of our greatest historical novelists, A Slant of Light deals with profoundly seminal American moments: the end of the Civil War, the religious freedom that was manifested in the Second Great Awakening, the last gasps of the Jeffersonian ideal of American yeomanry, the shadow on the horizon of the Industrial Revolution.

At the heart of the nove
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA
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Angela M
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Jeffrey Lent is an extraordinary writer. Sometimes his sentences are long and I find I have to reread them . At some point, the writing just flows but I stop and reread not because the sentence is a little long to grasp but because I choose to - the descriptions are perfection . I just have to include a couple of the them here so you know what I mean about his gorgeous language.

"The corn was high, pressing toward the roadsides, the oats nearly ripe, the slender stalks with their fragile seed cas
Diane S ☔
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
When Malcolm Hopeton returns to his farm in upstate New York, after fighting in the Civil War, he find most of his possessions and his wife gone. This novel opens with a act of violence and as a reader I thought I knew what was going to happen, a bad man would be caught and hanged. Wrong, the lines are not so clear. There is so much more to the story despite presumptions to the contrary and that is the genius of this novel and this author.

Through a young man who had worked on his farm for many
Diane Barnes
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: motley-crew
This book was amazing. Jeffrey Lent is amazing. How have I not read any of his books before? It took me 4 days to read this novel, and I feel as though I've lived with these characters for years. I've worked in their fields during harvest time, eaten at their table, trudged dusty miles on foot to get where I needed to go. Handled what life gave me in between chores and milking cows and taking care of livestock, because even in times of tragedy, these things had to be done.
There are evil men here
Feb 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
I truly dislike rating books so low, but alas, I could barely trudge through this one. I felt like it could have been written so much better and pulled so much harder to accomplish what the author set out to do. In reality, I felt the author struggled with focus and I ended up forcing myself to finish this one.

Some chapters were 1 page, others were 30 pages. This is a reading pet peeve for me. I abhor long chapters, but especially when chapters are inconsistent. Writing was way too wordy for my
Donna Davis
Some great novels are painterly, and we sink into them like a warm bath, lost in a wholly different time and place. Others are hair-on-fire page-turners that leave us unable to do one single thing until the book is done. Lent has managed to combine both kinds into one brilliant work, creating tangible characters and a setting that is nearly palpable as well. My thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers and Net Galley for the DRC. The book will be released in early April 2015.

The novel opens with a scene o
Alec Hastings
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When I finished A Slant of Light, I felt like I do when I have walked in the high peaks of New Hampshire, above the trees where the landscape is mystical and brings thoughts of eternity. For days afterward the clouds and crags jump unbidden to mind. As I write this review, I know the incantatory language in A Slant of Light will resonate inside me for a good while. It cast a spell over me from the first page to the last. I know of only one other writer who has created this kind of language, a la ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
The beginning was fantastic. I was immediately transfixed by the vivid scenes and felt my heart beating several times to such an extent where I thought this would be a 5 star book. But somewhere about the middle the plot took a detour and I started losing my focus and just never got back on track. By the end I was skimming paragraphs and looking forward to be finished. It felt like a quick slide down the rating scale.

Aspects that bothered me:

1) There was not a clear distinction between "present-
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
Oh Jeffrey Lent, I think this is where we part ways.

Ever since I read Lent's first book, over 10 years ago, I've looked forward to reading new works from him. His second book, Lost Nation, blew my mind. But ever since then, I've struggled to connect with his writing, to the point where I couldn't even finish his last book.

Still, when I saw this one on Netgalley, I hit that request button immediately, because he earned so much good will from me for those first two, wonderful books.

But unfortuna
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

One of my favorite places to visit is The Finger Lakes region in New York so I was thrilled to find an historical fiction novel that is set in this beautiful place. Malcolm Hopeton moves from New Hampshire with his elderly grandfather and buys a plot of land to farm near Seneca Lake. Malcolm toils from dawn to dusk for years in order to yield a fertile bounty from his land and he is very successful. He hires a young boy named Amos Wheeler as
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I've had this novel in my stacks for several years and am so glad that I finally got around to it. Jeffrey Lent is a wonderful writer, attuned to both the natural world and the human heart. The book opens with a wallop: Malcolm Hopeton, a farmer from upstate New York who has been away serving in the Union Army, comes home to find that Amos Wheeler, the hired man he trusted to watch over the land has not only neglected his duties but has sold off as much as he could and run off with Hopeton's wif
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
With a poetic wisdom, “The Slant of Light” shares the lives of 3 men caught in a tragic tragedy. Each man seeking to do the “right thing” and that a justice will be served. The setting done after the civil war, in a Friend community, you are brought back to a different time and place. Where work was hard and the will of a man was challenged. The 3 women protagonists were just as impressive in the challenges that they faced with their male counterparts.

The prose is one that each reader will take
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lent at his best

Almost anyone can write a story but not everyone can tell a story.
Jeffrey Lent can Tell a story. He can tell a story as if you were around a campfire and you leaned forward so as not miss a word, a description or a weaving of characters. He takes a character and builds he/she from the ground up so you know that person, who he/she is, where they came from, what they think and why. Then when the characters are built he weaves them together slowly and with such an amazing wealth of
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was impressive. The beginning was a total knock-down. More than any prose of recent memory this seems to hit a style that superbly fits the era and context. It's intensely physical.

But moreover, IMHO, it is at core a man's book with a man's strong identity and "honor" sense. A warrior book. It's war's legacy at a raw and vibrantly alive emotional level. The forgetting? Not so much.

Jeffrey Lent is a talent. These people were so real, and so quickly. That's an immense writing skill, and so c
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am always sorry to close a Jeffrey Lent book. I enjoy reading the words slow and letting them work their magic. You can smell the farm smells, feel the air, see the tree leaves move gracefully.His prose envelops you. It is from another era and I lone to be back there. It is not the Tale, but the telling of the Tale, the journey in words it takes you on. I immerse myself in Lent's prose. Nothing to do know but go back to In The Fall. . . ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An ode to a way of life and to character and history too. Amazingly done.
Apr 30, 2017 rated it liked it
The story of some tragic murders and their effect on the people left behind, set in mid 19th century upstate New York. Much of the verbiage is an almost erotic paean to farm fecundity with detailed and rich descriptions of livestock, the harvest, old farm equipment, many meals, and occasional D.H.Lawrence-like sexual discovery. It seems at times to be a battle between Rabelaisian naturalism and the plot's dour elements – human self-interest and its pal, religion. Strangely, the murders themsel ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and intelligently plotted, this book suffers from two-dimensional female characters—what my daughter calls “middle-aged men’s fantasy fiction.” Two of them are mostly silent and sexually eager. The third is an uncomplaining sexless workhorse. To me this spoils an otherwise brilliant piece of writing.
Luke Sherwood
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jeffrey Lent’s A Slant of Light features the life and death issues so closely associated with his work, and in this case an oblique approach to resolving the central conflict. These aspects of Mr. Lent’s latest novel don’t necessarily separate it from previous brilliant efforts like In the Fall and Lost Nation, not at all - but they reinforce and add depth to his already stunning body of work. A Slant of Light uses a device not often found in previous Lent novels: he uses a focused image to sugg ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I absolutely loved this book and now have all of the previous books by Jeffrey Lent on my must-be-read list. This one is not a light read and it’s not a fast read but it is definitely an absorbing read. The author has a deep understanding of the human heart and knows how to portray that understanding with words. He’s created a literary work of art with this book.

Malcolm Hopeton is a soldier in the Civil War who spends four years fighting what he perceives to be the evil that has pervaded the Uni
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’ve now read two Jeffrey Lent books, (After You’ve Gone) and I can confidently say he is a fantastic writer. His books are luscious with full, painterly, impressionistic descriptions and his stories are spare and stark. The contrast is masterful. I imagine A Slant of Light might frustrate some readers because the story really focuses on events leading up to a trial for a man’s life, yet we never do get a full resolve. That didn’t matter to me because Lent has given us enough information through ...more
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the harsh opening scene, the reader might not realize that A Slant of Light offers beautifully detailed descriptions of the natural world and thoughtful characters striving to be true and moral. The richness of the prose and the attention to everything "Outside" reminded me of Cold Mountain. When I discovered another character, besides the Outside, in the honor and ritual of Labor, I was really hooked. The tasks in the field, the dairy, or the kitchen all offer a focus and value, when littl ...more
Jun 24, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is of a literary nature, set in upstate New York (where I grew up)after the Civil War. The story starts off quickly with a violent act and then moves slowly, with abundant character examination and descriptive passages. It's a study of morality and an examination of what's the right thing to do in a complex situation. I liked the setting, with references to landmarks that were familiar to me. The descriptions of the mundane details and endless labors of farm life were achingly similar ...more
John Steiner
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-2015
I have all of Mr. Lent's books and what makes A Slant of Light,like some of his other novels so special is that he is able through his descriptive prose make me feel like I am actually in Western NY and living in the post Civil War era. His character development is so detailed that by the end of the book you know each person intimately and have a vested interest in their lives. Finally, I like that he leaves certain parts of the story unresolved so you as a reader can form your own opinion. His ...more
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
There was quiet a bit to like about this book. It's a rather old-fashioned story, both in the 19th century farmland setting, and the general tale of small town murder/love/secrets. The writing was fascinating, the story was good enough to keep me engaged, and I really enjoyed most of the characters. The story is still modern in that not all of the plot strands were tied off, but I thought it was a great story overall. ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
His writing is beautiful, but the story dragged on a bit for me. But I would still read anything he wrote.
May 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Would rate some of this book five stars, but the author lost me at some points with his dialog and wordiness.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the finest novel I've ever read. Period. ...more
Gary Stevens
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Hats off to Jeffrey Lent. ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've got to hand it to Jeffrey Lent. I was recommended this book on the strength of his writing, & he delivered the goods. Complete immersion in the world of the late nineteenth century, specifically the demanding life of solitary men running their farms year-round. The real sense of challenges to be met, hard work done, the minute details of all the tasks involved & the rich rewards of a huge meal laid out at the end of a full day. Lent takes us into the minds of these stoic, solitary character ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Wow! Few writers are better than Lent at evoking the everyday details of life in a world very different from ours--in this case a rural community in upstate New York just after the end of the Civil War--and then peopling it with two or three vividly drawn characters of great integrity who face off against a cruel world that seems set against them. It’s a rare work of fiction that makes everyday work a central part of the story.Yet even as it vividly evokes details of everyday life for a farmer a ...more
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