Synopses & Reviews
The Lightning Keeper
is a sweeping epic novel of ambition, love, and enterprise in America. It is the story of an unlikely Romeo and Juliet romance at the dawn of the electric age, with the nation balancing on the brink of world war and a scientific revolution.
In 1914 Toma Pekocevic is a penniless immigrant in New York recently escaped from the bloody politics of the Balkans that have claimed most of his family. He is also a gifted inventor who designs a revolutionary water turbine while working with Harriet Bigelow, scion of a proud Connecticut iron-making dynasty now fallen on hard times. Their attraction is immediate and overwhelming, but every circumstance is against them.
Toma is eventually drawn inside the industrial empire of General Electric, his machine an essential cog in its grand scheme to provide electricity to the entire country. His invention is all he has after losing Harriet to a wealthy politician, but Toma is determined to win her back, setting the stage for a confrontation that could change not only his life but the course of scientific progress.
Deeply evocative and utterly engrossing, The Lightning Keeper is a rich tapestry of technology, romance, and war an unforgettable and distinctly American saga that establishes Starling Lawrence as one of the most talented writers at work today.
"Sparks fly in Lawrence's blend of romance and historical fiction, set against the struggle to harness electricity in the early 20th century. The editor-in-chief of W.W. Norton picks up where his earlier novel, Montenegro, left off: Toma Pekocevic lands in Naples, on his way from the political strife in the Balkans to America. In Italy, Toma meets Harriet Bigelow, the young heiress to a once prominent iron-making dynasty. A brief magnetic encounter leaves both adolescents changed and charged forever. Six years later, in 1914, the pair meet again by chance in New York. Determined to help Harriet save the Bigelow Iron Company from financial ruin, Toma invents a machine capable of revolutionizing electricity. But an accident forces Toma to choose between his passion for Harriet and his love for his war-torn homeland, now at the epicenter of WWI. Harriet too must choose between her love for the lonely immigrant and a wealthy suitor who could aid her family but whose affection leaves her cold. Meanwhile, General Electric has expressed interest in Toma's idea and will stop at nothing to control the possibilities of power. Skillfully intertwining fact and fiction, Lawrence generates an electric history of ideas, kindled by the flames of capital and passion. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Lawrence blends science and romance into an immensely readable story; his descriptions...are as exciting as they are beautiful." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Lawrence has created a very American saga." Booklist
"Riveting...breathtaking...ambitious, wonderful...a carefully wrought and complex book...it draws us in and allows us to live briefly, magically, marvelously in the world as it once was." Chicago Tribune
"Exquisite and haunting....A big, old-fashioned, panoramic feast of a novel....An ambitious book about light and love....There is poetry here, as well as a marvelous story." Philadelphia Inquirer
"The Lightning Keeper is a great novel, a transcendent and enduring American novel. I loved it." Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird
"Machines supply the light here; the people are dim indeed." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Starling Lawrence is the author of the novel The Lightning Keeper, and a collection of stories, Legacies. He is the editor in chief and vice chairman of W. W. Norton. He lives in New York City and northwestern Connecticut.