THE SPRING RIDER by John Lawson

THE SPRING RIDER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It could be. . . in the meadow where the battle has been fought long ago, where each spring Jacob and his older sister Gray see the rider with the stovepipe hat, a Union soldier awakes, shakes himself like the ""weebly"" lamb that wants to live, and climbs to the top of the hill; he puts his bugle to his lips and it cries ""Come to me, come to me."" He is, as he soon tells Jacob, Sergeant Hannibal Cutler, Second Maine Division, and he is, as the Spring Rider, President Lincoln, later makes clear, both the summoner of the unburied dead and their potential dispatcher. President Lincoln would stop the fighting but he can't; Hannibal can but he won't. In an absorbing succession of duologues in which the historic ghosts are, if anything, more real than the people, Jacob encounters first granitic General Jackson, then headstrong Colonel Ashby; Hannibal and Gray meet, match responses, fall in love; and Mr. Lincoln, having made Hannibal a military outcast, forces him to choose between denying life to Gray and Jacob and ending his own tenuous, tenacious existence. A difficult book to encompass and ill-served in brief synopsis, but Mr. Lawson, here and in You Better Come Home With Me, rewards reading if only for the felicity of his images and the richness of his vision.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1968
Publisher: Crowell