The Wreckage of Eden

288 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 9781942658382


ISBN: 9781942658399

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The Wreckage of Eden is a huge and dark fresco of an army chaplain’s journey through very difficult and troubling periods of American history (normally denied us in school), and all the while this fine angle of approach is like a slow cinematic zoom and track onto an elusive Emily Dickinson ensconced in her Amherst.”

The Brothers Quay, award-winning film directors

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“Artistically presented. . . . Interesting in technique and storytelling. Lock quotes Emily Dickinson: She dealt her pretty words like Blades —. Lock does much the same in this novel.”

North of Oxford

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“Perceptive and contemplative. . . . Bring[s] the 1840–60s to life with shimmering prose.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“Lock deftly tells a visceral story of belief and conflict, with abundant moments of tragedy and transcendence along the way.”

Kirkus Reviews

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“The lively passages of Emily’s letters are so evocative of her poetry that it becomes easy to see why Robert finds her so captivating. The book also expands and deepens themes of moral hypocrisy around racism and slavery. . . . Lyrically written but unafraid of the ugliness of the time, Lock’s thought-provoking series continues to impress.”

Publishers Weekly

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“[A] consistently excellent series. . . . Lock has an impressive ear for the musicality of language, and his characteristic lush prose brings vitality and poetic authenticity to the dialogue.”


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“This beautifully written novel provides a new perspective on the 19th century and it’s charming to imagine the character of Emily Dickinson as Norman Lock has written her.”

Amanda Holmes Duffy, Politics and Prose Bookstore (Washington, DC)

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When U.S. Army chaplain Robert Winter first meets Emily Dickinson, he is fascinated by the brilliance of the strange girl immersed in her botany lessons. She will become his confidante, obsession, and muse over the years as he writes to her of his friendship with the aspiring politician Abraham Lincoln, his encounter with the young newspaperman Samuel Clemens, and his crisis of conscience concerning the radical abolitionist John Brown. Bearing the standard of God and country through the Mexican War and the Mormon Rebellion, Robert seeks to lessen his loneliness while his faith is eroded by the violence he observes and ultimately commits. Emily, however, remains as elusive as her verse on his rare visits to Amherst and denies him solace, a rejection that will culminate in a startling epiphany at the very heart of his despair.

Powerfully evocative of Emily Dickinson’s life, times, and artistry, this fifth stand-alone book in The American Novels series captures a nation riven by conflicts that continue to this day.

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Excerpt from The Wreckage of Eden