The epic story of Burton Blake begins with his paternal grandmother, Kristina. Kristina is a young woman possessed of an independent spirit who is working two jobs to support herself and her family in the Midwest during the Depression era. She is a hardworking typist during the day and a taxi dancer at night. She is a favorite of the guys, but she is soon the object of affection for Joseph Blake. Joseph courts, and then marries, Kristina; their whirlwind relationship is interrupted by the patriotic call of war that Joseph heeds. Joseph is stationed in the Pacific, where the combat conditions are horrific, and the distance is too much to bear for his family. Joseph is soon killed in combat, and Kristina is now rendered a widow and single mother. Kristina is now raising her Polio-surviving son, Elias, with the aid of her parents, but despite a short grief-ravaged period, she is intent on making a living. She soon gets a job at the local bank and prospers due to her sharp intelligence. Her duties at the bank lead to her encountering Carl Hofstadter, a veteran-turned land developer.
Carl is a visionary, akin to William Levitt, in his looking at farmland for low-cost veterans’ housing in Illinois. Carl is attracted to Kristina and soon marries her, even though love takes a backseat to convenience. The company faces turmoil from the vast profits it attempts to make through further expansion. The greed of one partner leads to betrayal and death, and, soon, Elias Blake is orphaned. Raised by his mother’s best friend, Elias emerges as a force in his own right. Soon, he is running the company for himself. But his individualistic and take-no-prisoners approach doesn’t sit well with his own family of three children, including the oldest, Burton. Burton is virtually neglected by his father, who is a workaholic and jets off to Alaska for hunting forays. The one trip he brings Burton on results in a near-death experience for Burton and a divorce from Elias’ wife. Burton grows up estranged from his father, having nothing to do with the vast riches of Blake Industries…until the day he receives a fateful visit. This visit will change Burton in more ways than he ever anticipated. He will need to face what he left behind and see if some good can come from it.
Burton Blake is a tour-de-force trip through multiple generations, running through emotional obstacles that make and break familial relationships. The lead-up to the telling of Burton’s life and circumstances is filled with attention-grabbing events. There is enough interesting lead-up to the arrival of the titular character that the reader will not feel shorted. The plot bobs and weaves, but the themes of love, loss, betrayal, and human goodness resonate throughout this captive read.
After editing at City Book Review for a few years, I took up the duties of editorial assistant, which include assigning books for review, posting reviews to our various sites, and nagging reviewers for things. In my non-nagging time, I’m a gamer, artist, writer, and notorious black thumb/bane of plants. My answer to every book-related question: read Octavia Butler.
|Page Count||518 pages|
|Publisher||Tell-Tale Publishing Group LLC|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|