Thursday, October 06, 2005

THE GOD-SEEKER

Well, this was a fine book and much better than I expected. Aaron Gadd is the son of a dour deacon in the Congregational church who is also a farmer in a small New England town. The time is early 1840s. Gloom and doom, sin and hell-fire, coldness and cruelty make up the deacon's personality and outlook on life. But Aaron is an irrepressible lad, so he leaves home to become a successful carpenter in a nearby town. He has friends, he drinks and even has a lover, a lose Catholic girl. His upbringing haunts him though and at a Revival, he gets the ferver to go out West and be a missionary to the Indians.

The West for Aaron turns out to be Minnesota, which is Sinclair Lewis' birthplace. In fact, The God-Seeker is the last book Sinclair Lewis published at the end of a long career. The story becomes a history of the settling of that state, complete with trappers, traders, missionaries, Indians and heavy weather. All that is good but the real story is about a young man finding his own beliefs about God, people, love, work and society. Aaron's life purpose is to make all races get along and while he matures and faces the world as it really is, he keeps trying to do his part.

The characters are distinct and well drawn. The story telling is masterful and the message comes through without much preaching (an accomplishment for Sinclair Lewis.) Warning: the book starts slowly and I didn't think much of it for quite a while, but it was well worth plugging along because it gets gripping and moving all the way to the end.

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