Characteristic of all transformative infrastructure projects, the building of the canal is littered with secrets–much like the relationships that Casey examines among these three proponents. Casey brings historical characters and situations to life for contemporary audiences, painting key events–from the region’s battles during the War of 1812 to a malaria epidemic during the canal’s construction–with enough vibrant, unstinting detail to evoke a visceral response. History-minded readers will be deeply immersed in the political and social machinations that powered this then-young country’s budding political machines. Casey’s respect for the time period and passion for the subject shine through.
The novel’s romantic entanglements don’t shine quite as brightly as the political intrigues and carefully chosen historic details. Eleanora and Daniel’s interactions come across as more scripted than organic, and much of their dialogue in the book’s first half is stilted. As the story unfolds, however, their dynamic takes on a smoother and more inviting tone, especially when the focus is less on romance and more on the relationships developing among the large cast. Historical fiction lovers will delight in this unique tale of a rarely dramatized turning point in American history.
Takeaway: An immersive historic novel that illuminates the digging of the Erie Canal.
Great for fans of: Amy Harmon’s Where the Lost Wander, Jennifer Donnelly’s The Tea Rose.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A