THE TOWN by Conrad Richter


Email this review


The trilogy begun with The Trees closes with this final chapter in one segment of pioneer-frontier America, the story of Sayward Wheeler, who came from the wilderness, and in her old age sought again to reestablish the link she herself had broken. The story is told in episodes, and together they form an intricate pattern of a growing frontier town -- a frontier family taking on the trappings of civilization, striving to forget- or to ignore- the sturdy roots from which they sprang. Portius, mystery man whose past his wife, Sayward, never penetrated, had become the county's leading citizen- and had won for his area the right to county status on its own. But his past rose up to shame him when places of honor were awarded, and only by his wit and wisdom -- fortified by drink did he win back the place he rated in the town's esteem. The story centers largely on the tragic romance between Portius' ""woods colt"" child, Rosa, and his and Sayward's youngest son, the spoiled weakling, Chancey. Condemnation of an unfeeling and curious public destroyed what it could not solve-and Chancey carried the bitterness of Rosa's death into his angry protest against society, his fight for the cause of peace in an Ohio beginning to be torn by that strife that found expression in Civil War. The story ends with Sayward's death- fighting to the last for her right to independence, to a life not harnessed to the trappings of formality. There's power here- and bits of superb writing, but it is uneven in the telling and lacks the integration that has characterized Richter's earlier work.

ISBN: 0821409808
Publisher: Knopf