In Sunlight, In a Beautiful Garden centers around the Johnstown, PA flood that killed over 2000 people in the late 1880's. The flood was caused by the collapse of a dam which provided the lake for South Fork, a club for the ultra rich, including the Fricks, Mellons and Carnegies. South Fork had done nothing to maintain the dam and it collapsed after heavy spring rains. The plot follows a multipicity of characters, primarily centering on Johnstown residents Frank Fallon, his wife Julia and thier son, Daniel. All the characters are beautifully realized and make the reader acutely aware of the social dynamics between the South Fork summer people and those "down below". Even though the outcome is certain death for most of the leading characters, the author manages to sustain suspense and more importantly, deep empathy. Highly recommended for those who enjoy character driven novels.
This report prepared by Linda Sourpuss