What a remarkably quiet and elegant story of not only a place (Port William, Kentucky), but also of people (Mat Feltner) and a time (the story ends with the end of WW2). The book will make you want to take a walk, to look carefully, to work with your hands. Berry wants you to remember that “a man’s life is always dealing with permanence-that the most dangerous kind of irresponsibility is to think of your doing as temporary. . . What you do on the earth, the earth makes permanent” (180).
If I have a quibble, and it is only that, a quibble, it’s that pretty much all of the characters are a bit too wise and insightful.
This is the story of a community at a particular time. These are neighbors who can speak without words, who understand over time. There is a sadness in this book, that of time passing and death approaching, not just for those who have aged, but those who have gone off to war. This is a book about generations, both of land and of people.
I look forward to Berry’s other Port William stories.