Kent Wascom is one of the most exciting and ambitious emerging voices in American fiction. Envisaging a quartet of books telling the story of America through a single family and region, the Gulf Coast of the United States, Wascom began with his much-lauded debut, The Blood of Heaven, published when he was just twenty-six and praised as “stunning” by the Miami Herald, and “like the sermon of a revivalist preacher” by the Wall Street Journal. His second novel, Secessia, continues the story of the Woolsack family in Civil War New Orleans, and in The New Inheritors, he has written his most powerful and poignant novel yet.
In 1914, with the world on the brink of war, Isaac, a nature-loving artist whose past is mysterious to all, including himself, meets Kemper, a defiant heiress caught in the rivalry between her brothers. Kemper’s older brother Angel is hiding a terrible secret about his sexuality, and her younger brother Red possesses a capacity for violence that frightens even the members of his own brutal family. Together Isaac and Kemper build a refuge on their beloved, wild, Gulf Coast. But their paradise is short-lived; as the coast is rocked by the storms of summer, the country is gripped by the furor preceding World War I, and the Woolsack family’s rivalries come to a bloody head. From the breathtaking beauty of the Gulf to the bloody havoc wreaked by the United States in Latin America, The New Inheritors explores the beauty and burden of what is handed down to us all. At once a love story and a family drama, a novel of nature and a novel of war, The New Inheritors traces a family whose life is intimately tied to the Gulf, that most disputed, threatened, and haunted part of this country we call America.
Wascom's satisfying third novel set on the Gulf Coast (following The Blood of Heaven and Secessia) explores the intricate details that can populate a family's history. Isaac Patterson's life began in troubling fashion, as he was narrowly rescued from a cult in Florida and shepherded to an orphanage by a neighbor. Isaac is adopted into the Patterson family, where he easily finds his place among the ranks of two older brothers and doting parents. In 1914, his passion for painting and the sea eventually leads him to the arms of the spirited Kemper Woolsack, partial heir to a family shipping business in New Orleans. Their young love and marriage bring them immeasurable joys, and it's these memories that they must cling to as the looming war threatens their family's place in this world. The novel spans seven decades and also tells the story of other characters, such as Red Woolsack, Kemper's youngest brother, whose interests give in to violence and hate, and their oldest brother, Angel, who appeared in both of Wascom's previous novels. Wascom's writing is often melodic, but the narrative scope sometimes feels unwieldy. Nevertheless, the novel is a winning blend of history and family dynamics.