A few years ago, I read Jeffrey Lent’s In the Fall, and I was mesmerized with the author’s talent for prose paired with a gripping historical narrative. I knew I would have to read another by this gifted writer. Lost Nation did not disappoint.
The novel takes place in Vermont, before statehood. Men ventured out into the wilderness of this New England area for solitude, and to establish communities as they would have them – far from the seats of competing nations that would control them. Those nations, The United States and Britain, weren’t content to leave them alone. One such man, Blood, came to this area escaping his past. He brought him a young woman he won in a card game, and he established a tavern in the middle of the wilderness where he could set up trade. This was the lost nation that these settlers sought, but they soon found that paradise was a pipe dream.
In Lost Nation, Lent examines man’s need for isolation and community at the same time. His characters struggle with self-worth, self-reliance and human dignity. Lastly, his exploration of understanding and forgiveness in the characters of Blood and Sally, amidst the cruel backdrop of wilderness survival, is memorable, and has a uniquely American flavor.
Jeffrey Lent is a master not only at storytelling, but in presenting the past in such a way that readers are easily transported into that world. His prose is amazing, and the novel was fluid and gripping. I recently read a Booker Prize Winner that I couldn’t give the full five stars to because it of it’s disconnectedness. Lost Nation is an example of a novel that fully deserves all five stars.
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2002