Boles is a fiddlefooted writer -- from stories for young people to the somewhat unstructured experiences of a New England Black in Curling (1968) and now this vigorous story written with a magnificent hand for language and a liveliness sometimes misspent on a narrative which fails to focus the writer's natural power. But The Limner is exuberantly readable, with all the plot hooks of 19th century melodrama and some of the hijinks of Twain. He's a painter, Luke Applegate, with the heaven-sent gift of a medieval craftsman. He falls for a sixteen-year-old he suspects of murdering her father, while in turn the girl, Letty, suspects him. They run off together, set up house and get a deserted old mill in working order (this is freely conceived by Boles). But the law forces Luke to flee just when paradise is at hand, and he wanders into the Reconstruction South in hopes of finding Letty's mother. There are dozens of quickly sketched rural and city types, road-wise hype artists, all seen with a clear and forgiving eye. And after the murder is solved, Boles goes on to firm up Luke as a husband and matured man of integrity and limitless capacities. He sometimes attempts too much but does catalyze your interest in a spirited fashion.