Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Given Day

Loyalty. Fans of historical fiction can wallow with delight through the more than 700 pages of Dennis Lehane’s epic novel The Given Day. I lingered for months over these pages, taking a scene or two at a time, and letting the pleasure last longer. Set in the early part of the 20th century, The Given Day uses two families as the springboard to explore all the social issues of the time: labor unrest, racism, influenza, anarchy and war. The Caughlin family of Boston represents the power of the Irish immigrants through their police service, and the power shifts with the formation of a police union, in which son Danny becomes an activist. Luther Lawrence leaves his family in Tulsa for Boston to get out from under the influence and retribution of a black crime boss. Luther and Danny find friendship of a sort as their lives connect and as each man tries to resolve where his loyalty lies. Babe Ruth plays a big role in The Given Day, as does Calvin Coolidge. Lehane brings this era and its issues to life on these pages, and creates memorable and complex characters who make choices that lead to dramatic results.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)

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