By February 29, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Serendipity in the Stacks #67: Set Me Free

Here’s another of those under-the-radar books I found while wandering about the fiction stacks. I must admit to being a fan of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s debut novel, The Effects Of Light, another good choice for book groups. Her second effort, Set Me Free, is just as suitable.

Loosely using Shakespeare’s The Tempest as a frame, this story is about the journey of one man to another and one daughter to another. Elliot, an educated, well-meaning Easterner with a mysterious past, moves to a desolate Indian reservation in the Pacific Northwest to open a school. His best friend and worst enemy is Cal Fleecing, a native Neige Courant, who is hiding his own past.

Elliott summons his ex-wife, Helen, a renowned Broadway theater director to stage a production of The Tempest in hopes of securing joint support from a wealthy day school in Portland, Oregeon upon approval of the tribal elders. Amelia, Elliott’s daughter, has just returned from the white children’s boarding school with a terrible secret about her departure. Everyone is hiding something from their pasts–ancient and recent. A tragic fire flushes out the truth for all as they gather to help a fatally injured member of their family.

All the subplots are woven well together and dovetail nicely in the midst of a surprising and logical ending. Characters are fully realized; pace is a combination of leisurely and swift. The literary references to other works were a particular delight to me and will be to those who are widely read, particularly in the classics.

Readers will enjoy discussing the relationships between the characters, the reasons they all keep certain information from the others, and the themes of redemption and belonging.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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