The Vermont hill country is the stark, vivid setting for this gripping and entertaining story of bold determination. The local villain, Blackway, is making life hellish for Lillian, a young woman from parts elsewhere. Her boyfriend has fled the state in fear, and local law enforcement can do nothing to protect her. She resolves, however, to stand her ground, and to fight back. A pair of unlikely allies – Lester, a crafty old-timer, and Nate, a powerful but naive youth – join her cause, understanding that there is no point in taking up the challenge unless you’re willing to “go through.” In this modern-day drama, a kind of Greek chorus – wry, witty, digressive; obsessively, amusingly reminiscent; skeptical, opinionated, and not always entirely sober – enriches the telling of this unforgettable tale as the reader follows the threesome’s progress on their dangerous, suspenseful quest.
Like its young heroine, Lillian, Freeman's trim powerhouse is a pistol. The novelist and Old Farmer's Almanac essayist sets this story of grim purpose in a rural Vermont of logging, lumber mills and Lost Towns beyond the reach of the law. Threatened by the locally notorious villain Blackway, who has smashed her car window and killed her cat, Lillian turns to the sheriff. Unable to offer her legal protection, he sends her to a derelict sawmill where the wheelchair-bound Whizzer Boot holds court to a Greek chorus-like circle of beer-drinking locals. When Lillian refuses to leave town in the face of Blackway's threats, Whizzer assigns fearless young Nate and crafty old Lester to go with her to find him. Over the course of a single day, they venture deep into the sparsely inhabited territory and outlaw criminality of the Lost Towns. Knowing that as they get close they got to be ready to go all the way through, they meet menace and violence head-on. Nate's brawn, Lester's cunning and Lillian's stolid determination lead them to a late-night confrontation with Blackway that is as startling as it is inevitable. Freeman's beautifully cadenced dialogue is rich with humor, philosophic depth and a near-mythic sensibility.
Good imagery, solid plot, likable and relatable characters.
A short, odd little book that haunts me still, six years after reading it. Part of my collection.