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The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder

The Eighth Day

by Thornton Wilder

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In the beginning John Ashley came from New York, hired as a maintenance engineer to repair and fortify the mines of Coaltown, Illinois. Breckenridge Lansing was the managing director of the mines. This is how their paths would cross, innocently enough. Their paths would uncross when John shoots Breckenridge in the back of the head. Simple enough. After John is convicted and is on his way to be executed for the crime he somehow escapes. For the first part of the book we follow John's trek to Chile where he resumes his mine work. The rest of the book follows the lives of the people he left behind: his wife and children, Breck's widow and children. While the story meanders through philosophy and religion, the storyline is clear. There is something definitely amiss about this murder. John claims he is innocent and yet he was the only one with a gun. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 2, 2014 |
A really good book with great writing. The plot however is a little unsettling, moving backwards and forwards through time, never really going where you expect it too. ( )
  charlie68 | Feb 10, 2012 |
This book struck me as being in the tradition of George Eliot- an effort to both entertain and edify the reading public. Its focus on familial influences and the meaning of faith, hope and charity aroused my interest and sympathies. I'm not sure his critique of humour is definitive, but it is understandable that such a serious work should support its own essential seriousness. ( )
  markbstephenson | Jun 2, 2010 |
In his book, The Eighth Day, Thornton Wilder brings us a gripping tale of two families whose lives are shattered by a mysterious murder. The husband and father of one family is falsely convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the other husband and father. With help from unknown benefactors he escapes from the train carrying him to Joliet and lives the life of a fugitive. Set in a small midwestern mining town at the turn of the 20th century, we watch how the two young families and particularly the children of the accused cope with their drastically changed circumstances. The mother of the accused never leaves her house and it is up to the children to keep the family from the real threat of the poorhouse. The author gives us the unusual background and upbringing of the principal characters to make sense of their present behavior under pressure. There are the mysteries of who was the murderer and who helped the fugitive escape which are not discovered until the final few pages. Written in a highly skilled and interesting manner by a master storyteller. ( )
  seoulful | Apr 2, 2009 |
Curious book. A murder mystery that almost completely loses sight of the murder and the mystery. A wide-ranging family saga that loses its protagonist half-way through. ( )
  jburlinson | Dec 23, 2008 |
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In the end, like all good novels, this one is about how every story is part of a grand tradition of stories in the world, from the Bible to histories to journalism, as if, on the eighth day, God created a story about the first seven.
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In the early summer of 1902 John Barrington Ashley of Coaltown, a small mining center in southern Illinois, was tried for the murder of Breckenridge Lansing, also of Coaltown.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060088915, Paperback)

This new edition of Thornton Wilder's renowned 1967 National Book Award–winning novel features a new foreword by John Updike and an afterword by Tappan Wilder, who draws on such unique sources as Wilder's unpublished letters, handwritten annotations in the margins of the book, and other illuminating documentary material.

In 1962 and 1963, Thornton Wilder spent twenty months in hibernation, away from family and friends, in the Rio Grande border town of Douglas, Arizona. While there, he launched The Eighth Day, a tale set in a mining town in southern Illinois about two families blasted apart by the apparent murder of one father by the other. The miraculous escape of the accused killer, John Ashley, on the eve of his execution and his flight to freedom triggers a powerful story tracing the fate of his and the victim's wife and children. At once a murder mystery and a philosophical story, The Eighth Day is a "suspenseful and deeply moving" (New York Times) work of classic stature that has been hailed as a great American epic.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:20 -0400)

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