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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Back to Wando Passo

by

Back to Wando Passo Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

David Payne has been hailed as "the most gifted American novelist of his generation," (Boston Globe) and has been likened to "Pat Conroy or perhaps a Southern John Irving," (Winston-Salem Journal).

Now, in his new novel, Payne introduces us to Ransom Hill, lead singer of a legendary-but-now-defunct indie rock group who has come to South Carolina to turn over a new leaf. A bighearted artist and a bit of a wild man, Ran knows that his wife Claire's patience with him hangs by a frayed thread. After a five-month separation, he's come south from New York City to rejoin her and their two young children at Wando Passo, Claire's inherited family estate, determined to save his marriage, his family, and himself.

Back at Wando Passo, though, things don't proceed according to plan. Claire has taken a job teaching at the local music conservatory, where the dean of the faculty, Marcel Jones, is one of Claire's oldest friends. It's unclear — to Ran, at least — whether Claire and Marcel's relationship remains platonic or has evolved, in his absence, in a disturbing new direction. Matters are complicated further when Ran discovers a mysterious black pot of apparent slave manufacture buried on the grounds of Wando Passo. The unearthing of this relic transports Ransom — and the reader — back one hundred fifty years into the story of another love triangle at Wando Passo at the height of the Civil War...

May 1861. Claire's great-great-great grand-mother, Adelaide DeLay, a beautiful thirty-three-year-old spinster from a top-drawer Charleston family, arrives at Wando Passo by boat, having made a marriage of convenience to the plantation's future master, Harlan DeLay. As Addiecomes down the gangway, she catches the eye of the plantation's steward, Jarry, Harlan's black half brother. Trans-fixed, she sees something in Jarry's eyes like a question that, once posed, you cannot rest until you have the answer to.

In the present, when two eroded skeletons turn up buried in shallow graves, Ransom becomes obsessed with the identities of the bodies and what happened to them. Did the past triangle — involving Addie, Harlan, and Jarry — culminate in murder? As his marriage to Claire continues to unravel, Ran begins to wonder whether disturbing echoes of the past are leading him, Marcel, and Claire toward a similar, tragic outcome in the present.

A fast-paced adventure story filled with lyrical writing, wicked humor, and unforgettable characters, Back to Wando Passo propels the two love stories, linked by place through time, to a simultaneous crescendo of betrayal, revenge, and redemption, and asks whether the present is doomed to ceaselessly repeat the past — or if it can sometimes change and redeem it.

Review:

"Payne's richly ornate Southern saga (after Gravesend Light) follows Ransom Hill, a current New York cabbie and former '80s songwriter-in-demand, back South. Ran is rejoining his estranged wife, Claire DeLay, and their two small children at Wando Passo, the South Carolina rice plantation Claire has inherited. Originally a poor boy from North Carolina, Ran truly loves his Charleston-born, flaky musician wife of 19 years. But the past dogs Ran: Claire, a former concert pianist, finds work teaching music at a local college and reconnects with her childhood friend Marcel Jones, a black musician and sour ex-member of Ran's band. At Wando Passo, he excavates an old pot containing ceremonial objects, and, later, two corpses are unearthed — perhaps solving the mysterious disappearance of the Civil War master of the house, Harlan DeLay, and his Charleston wife, Addie, who soon get alternating diary entry — like chapters. Addie reveals her illicit romance with Harlan's black half-brother, Jarry, the son of a Cuban buja; their biracial love resonates with Claire's attraction to Marcel, while Ran's loopy purpose seems to be to release the ancestral curse so that the whole family can function again. Despite a rather too-tidy plot, Payne fashions elaborate prose and touching characterization into an absorbing tale. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"I try to ignore the blurbs that arrive with new novels. In my experience, every writer, no matter how surly or untalented, has a friend or two who will praise his work, if only to be rid of him. In this case, however, the praise that Pat Conroy, Annie Dillard and Lee Smith have lavished on fellow Southerner David Payne's fifth novel is largely deserved. 'Back to Wando Passo' is that most delicious... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] luscious, engaging, and heartfelt novel with plenty to say about individual responsibility and the legacy of slavery." Library Journal

Review:

"Payne handles this novel of love, loss, and betrayal deftly." Booklist

Review:

"Payne's plot is a fine, twisty marvel, but what ultimately sells this epic is his outsized passion. Steamy sex, family life in all its closeness and conflict, landscape in high relief, quasi-biblical prose poetry — about the only thing this gusher lacks is irony. And that's a big plus." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

David Payne is the author of four previous novels: Confessions of a Taoist on Wall Street, which won the prestigious Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award, Early from the Dance, Ruin Creek, and Gravesend Light. He lives in North Carolina.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060851897
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Payne, David
Author:
by David Payne
Publisher:
William Morrow
Subject:
General
Subject:
Rock musicians
Subject:
Plantation life
Subject:
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20060523
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.49 in 22.8 oz

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Back to Wando Passo Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages William Morrow & Company - English 9780060851897 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Payne's richly ornate Southern saga (after Gravesend Light) follows Ransom Hill, a current New York cabbie and former '80s songwriter-in-demand, back South. Ran is rejoining his estranged wife, Claire DeLay, and their two small children at Wando Passo, the South Carolina rice plantation Claire has inherited. Originally a poor boy from North Carolina, Ran truly loves his Charleston-born, flaky musician wife of 19 years. But the past dogs Ran: Claire, a former concert pianist, finds work teaching music at a local college and reconnects with her childhood friend Marcel Jones, a black musician and sour ex-member of Ran's band. At Wando Passo, he excavates an old pot containing ceremonial objects, and, later, two corpses are unearthed — perhaps solving the mysterious disappearance of the Civil War master of the house, Harlan DeLay, and his Charleston wife, Addie, who soon get alternating diary entry — like chapters. Addie reveals her illicit romance with Harlan's black half-brother, Jarry, the son of a Cuban buja; their biracial love resonates with Claire's attraction to Marcel, while Ran's loopy purpose seems to be to release the ancestral curse so that the whole family can function again. Despite a rather too-tidy plot, Payne fashions elaborate prose and touching characterization into an absorbing tale. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] luscious, engaging, and heartfelt novel with plenty to say about individual responsibility and the legacy of slavery."
"Review" by , "Payne handles this novel of love, loss, and betrayal deftly."
"Review" by , "Payne's plot is a fine, twisty marvel, but what ultimately sells this epic is his outsized passion. Steamy sex, family life in all its closeness and conflict, landscape in high relief, quasi-biblical prose poetry — about the only thing this gusher lacks is irony. And that's a big plus."
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