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Cajun Waltz: A Novel by Robert H. Patton

Cajun Waltz: A Novel

by Robert H. Patton

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I enjoyed this book far more than I anticipated. In some ways it is a typical piece of domestic fiction with a collection of endearing, if terribly flawed, family members. The Bainard's grow wealthy but their wealth brings challenges, temptations, and eventually a crisis. Everything comes to a somewhat disappointing climax during Hurricane Audrey in 1957. More emphasis on the music that was such a central part of the beginning would have been interesting. Admittedly, the edition I read was an advance uncorrected proof so changes may have been made at official publication. ( )
  RoeschLeisure | Nov 2, 2016 |
Cajun Waltz is a Greek tragedy with roots deep in black delta soil. The story begins with Richard (Richie) Bainard, a white musician from Texas who finds himself in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1928. Richie is a bit of a shiftless layabout, thinking about getting out of the music business and into something a bit more profitable. A chance encounter with the spinster daughter of the local dry goods store seems to offer him a way out, and a violent encounter with some good old boys after a performance with a black musician cements his choice. Richie marries the spinster and finds himself heir to a burgeoning retail empire.

Unfortunately, with a small taste of power and control, we find that Richie Bainard is not exactly a very good person. He is a violent and unfaithful drunk, terrorizing his family, friends, and mistress.

Like any good Greek tragedy, the sins of the father carry forward to the next generation. Here we have the twins: Bonnie, cold and pathologically calculating, and R.J., shiftless and casually violent. And then there is Seth, Bonnie and R.J.’s half brother, partially blinded and crippled in an accident as a child, trying to feel his way free of his poisonous family. Also exiting and entering the plot are the Bainards’ hangers-on, enemies, and victims, everyone’s stories weaving in and out of one another to form a tapestry of a dysfunctional family.

This book is the fictional debut of history writer Robert H. Patton. His style reflects his past; Cajun Waltz is written in the style of novelized nonfiction, and Patton draws on actual historical events and people to give the story bite. In the style of southern gothic tragedy, all the characters in Cajun Waltz (even the protagonists, such as they are) are deeply flawed, and occasionally difficult to sympathize with.The book being set in the 1920s through the 1950s, the issue of race indeed comes up, but is largely discarded later in the book. The book also features two women prominently: Bonnie Bainard (daughter of Richie) and Adele (one of the family’s victims) who choose very different (and not necessarily successful) routes to deal with the casual misogyny (and violence) of both their era, and the Bainard family.

In all, this book is a quick read and difficult to put down once started. I think it speaks well of the author’s characters when I want to reach through the page and slap/strangle a few of them. History buffs, or those into historical fiction will enjoy this book.

A copy of this book was provided by the author via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.Cajun Waltz is currently available for purchase.

More review on my blog!
www.theirregularreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  irregularreader | Oct 31, 2016 |
Cajun Waltz by Robert H Patton is a multi-generational novel that starts in 1920s Louisiana that follows the Bainards, a temperamental family, and those outsiders who become intertwined within the Bainard clan. Economic strife, family loyalty vs romantic love, and racial prejudices are among the challenges faced throughout the book. All the while the Depression, war, and the gulf weather add to the complicated situations.
I found Cajun Waltz to be written in a unique prose that drops the reader into each scene and tiptoes around what each character in each scene is really thinking. I found myself filling in the gaps and therefore connecting to the book as if I was part of the story, not just an observer of it. While often I was wrong about who the main characters really were, that discovery of truth was part of the fun of the read. The book delves deeply into the theme of family allegiance. Patton poses often throughout the book whether standing by family no matter what is a better choice than standing by what is right. The structure of the book was well done as well, tying people together over time, generations, and settings in a extremely intricate and complicated, and yet wholly believable way. The only thing I felt a little confused about was that the book was advertised as darkly comic, but expect for a couple of humorously constructed death scenes, I didn't find much laughable about Cajun Waltz. That being said, I enjoyed Cajun Waltz and would recommend it to a friend.
I receivedCajun Waltz as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. ( )
  EHoward29 | Jun 17, 2016 |
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