IN THE FIRE OF SPRING by Thomas Tryon

IN THE FIRE OF SPRING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Old-fashioned in style and structure, flowery (to the point of near-parody) in language, and soap opera-ish in plot and character, the late Tryon's sequel to The Wings of Morning (1991) is the second in a planned quartet of novels set in Connecticut in mid-19th century and continues the two overriding themes of its predecessor: the decades-old feud between the powerful Talcott and Grimes families, and the great moral and economic debate over abolition in the years prior to the Civil War. Returning to Pequot Landing from New York while bearing his abolitionist daughter Electra home for a visit, Appleton Talcott saves a runaway mulatto slave girl, Rose Mills, from slave catchers and introduces her into the family home, Kingdom Come. The arrival of Rose precipitates the founding of a controversial Free School by Georgiana Ross, the illegitimate Grimes daughter who was the focus of the first book, set some ten years earlier. That starts trouble, and the subsequent return to Pequot Landing of Georgiana's half-brother, sea captain Sinjin Grimes (flesh from opium smuggling in the China seas), compounds matters. Almost from the moment of his arrival, Sinjin becomes involved (literally) with Rose, whose beauty of face and form have already begun leading her into trouble, as has her tart personality and often mean-spirited independence. Then the long-absent and now-widowed Aurora Talcott Sheffield, the only woman Sinjin ever loved, also comes home, carrying a horrifying secret. As the various relationships play out and the battle over the Free School becomes more intense, the tempest always simmering just beneath the town's surface boils over. Tryon's death last year will most likely leave this magnum opus incomplete, sad news for those who can overlook its weaknesses (slow pacing and excessive length among them). For such readers, the ""Kingdom Come"" novels are a pleasant and engrossing diversion.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1992
Page count: 656pp
Publisher: Knopf