Review of Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig

Sweet Thunder

Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read several of Ivan Doig’s novels, all set in Montana after WWI and before WWII.

Doig writes with humor, understanding and wonderful skill, and I haven’t found one of his I didn’t think was excellent. (Some are more excellent than others.)

The story takes place in the city of the Anaconda copper mine, in the early ’20’s. The narrator (this is told in first person) has just returned from a year long honeymoon to take over a mansion gifted to him from his former boss.

The problem is that the mansion beginning to look like a money pit and the town is caught up in the struggle of the miners against the ruthless Anaconda Copper Mining company. Morris, the narrator, needs a way to bring in some cash.

He finds himself writing editorials for The Thunder, the city’s new pro-union newspaper that dares to engage Anaconda in its conflicts.

Morrie is very good at putting words together, which unfortunately leads to some sticky situations, with attempted murder, mayhem and blackmail.

Reading Doig is like sitting down with an engaging friend with the gift of gab and a good heart – and a wicked sense of humor. He never fails to satisfy.

I have this one in hardback, and I learned after I finished it that the main character is also in Doig’s ‘The Whistling Season’, which I have put on my ‘to read’ list.

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Review: The Governess of Penwyth Hall

Four Stars

I picked up this book on a whim based on the beautiful cover. A quick riffling through the pages revealed good writing and characers that seemed (at very first glance) to be believeable and engaging.

Cordelia Greythorne, widowed, has taken a position as a governess in a wealthy man’s house. Tragedy and mystery lies behind her choice of occupation. In a trick of fate, her employer is fatally injured in a riding accident, and she and the children are sent to his surviving brother living in Cornwall.

Cordelia takes the chidren to their uncle, and the story goes on from there. The uncle, Jac Trewethy, accepts his niece and nephew, and welcomes them and their governess into his home. Love blooms, but the shadows of the past intrude.

Smugglers, double-dealing – What is Cordelia’s part in this?

Do her past tragedies have any connection with her current situation?

Is she one who knows too much, who steps into the shadows of her past knowingly, with intent to clear them all out? The story unfolds in layers of knowledge.

Love blooms, questions are answered, and the danger is eliminated and all problems are resolved.

This is a complex story, and it has a strong compass, both morally and from a storytelling standpoint. The characters are well drawn, the action kept me reading, and the flow of the story itself is engaging, apparopriate and enjoyable. There are moments of grace even for the villains, and they work very well.

From a ‘crafting’ standpoint, this was very well done. The pace was excellenr, and any ‘surprises’ had been set up from the beginning.

I am currendly reading the second of Ms. Ladd’s books set in Cornwell, and am enjoying it. I will be reviewing it when I am finished.

Five stars.