Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Writers and Readers Have Said . . .

What Writers and Readers Have Said about Yankee Doric

“Dramatizing the times of Jefferson, John Brown, and Horace Greeley, Yankee Doric recovers the feverish restlessness of a newly-formed nation growing from isolation to world position. Through a family’s search for meaning in the face of illness, infidelities, death, the vagaries of politics and the looming possibility of civil war, the novel presents a portrait of the young nation and its citizens. The language is so fine that details become images; giving scope to the national experience and stature to its characters, these images fuse into the ideas that created the United States of America and, still, enable it to endure.” 
      —Linda Ty-Casper, author of DreamEden and Awaiting Trespass

“[Yankee Doric] is an ambitious work, whose main characters embody a definitively American heroism, one embracing duty over love and self-sacrifice in the face of crisis. Chronicling the lives of the Bingham family and set in New York, Virginia, and Paris, the novel’s expansive world makes Yankee Doric an American epic in prose. The novel’s finely honed style invokes the ‘plain style’ of the age’s Federalist aesthetic, as symbolized by the classical Doric order of architecture.”
      —Tita F. Baumlin, co-author of Perpetual Adolescence

“It arrived a few days ago and I've just now finished reading this fascinating philosophical/ psychological and very personal march through U.S. history. Beautifully written, as all your writings always are. And what a wealth of historical happenings you've gathered together! Congratulations!”
      —H. R.

“Surveying American life during the decades before the Civil War, Yankee Doric will delight readers with graces of prose style reminiscent of the great novels of manners. Yet the delight serves as subtle cover for Raffel's knowing wit which, slyly, pries into both Northern and Southern life. Throughout, one hears the distant knells of impending national holocaust.”
      —Donald Holliday, Missouri State University (Emeritus)

“It’s a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable novel. I like it a lot, [but] it is hard to leave the characters, especially when I don't know what will happen to Grace or Jonathan. [A] very enjoyable story. Thank you.
      —A.J. Lafave, Jr., Vice-Chairman (Retired), IMG

“In Yankee Doric, Burton has captured not only the historical detail of an era, but also its voice and spirit. Readers will be transported back to an America still struggling to forge its identity. It’s a continuing struggle, and many of the issues that dominate the antebellum world of Yankee Doric still resonate today.”
­      —George Clark, author of The Raw Man and The Small Bees’ Honey
Yankee Doric ends as the Confederacy is attacking Fort Sumter, and I, for one, would have wished it longer. ‘There will be war,’ one character foresees, but this elegant novel focuses on the decades before the Civil War, when merchants, poets, and abolitionists were making history. Raffel brings to life the impact on an extended Yankee family of such events as the Dred Scott decision, John Brown's execution, Walt Whitman's poetry, Horace Greeley's editorials, Lincoln's inaugural speech, and much more. The Bingham-Johnson family contains at least a dozen memorable characters who love and hate, travel and write, marry and die. The dialogue is captivating and precisely formal, exactly as mid-nineteenth-century Americans talked and wrote. Long and lively hand-written letters (that moribund genre!) are exchanged between Paris and Poughkeepsie that show the singularly restless nature of Americans on both sides of the Atlantic. Erotic love is finely depicted, both in and out of marriage. This book seems immensely topical, with 1850s Washington portrayed as ‘a useless city, full of self-satisfied, corrupt men,’ and the United States as on the brink of an unspeakably tragic war. Given its brilliant interlace of American history and fiction, Yankee Doric would enliven many book club discussions.”
      —Diana Wilson, author of Cervantes, the Novel, and the New World

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