OF LIZARDS AND ANGELS: A Saga of Siouxland by Frederick Manfred

OF LIZARDS AND ANGELS: A Saga of Siouxland

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A ponderous family epic of taming the prairie in northwestern Iowa, with skeletons in the closet and heavy breathing in the hayloft, from veteran heartland yarnspinner Manfred (No Fun on Sunday, etc. etc.). Tunis Freyling almost kills a co-worker in a rage, and feels cursed by his dead father's murderous melancholy. Deciding to settle elsewhere in Siouxland, he meets the headstrong Clara Shortridge, who worries that her father's incestuous behavior drove him from England. They marry and settle down to farm and raise eight children, who prosper while their parents become increasingly estranged. Tension builds between Tunis and Clara because she's denied him conjugal rights since the birth of their last baby, but they remain together. Their brood matures to take off in different directions--the eldest son a farmer, the youngest a lawyer, a prim middle daughter a missionary to the Sioux--but the dark ancestral past finally catches up to the couple as Tunis disappears to kill himself on turning 70, and Clara drops dead years later on learning that two of her own have run off to live as man and wife. Incest and sexual relations are central to the saga as it unfolds, but in addition Manfred provides touches of wit and an abundance of vivid, memorable scenes from rural America in more bucolic times. Hamlin Garland run through a Freudian gauntlet--in an obsessive but richly detailed family history. A feast for fans, perhaps, but repetitive and relatively plotless for the rest.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 624pp
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma Press