My Review:In a small town in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains Hannah and her son Bo mourn the loss of the family patriarch, Jozef Vinich. They were three generations under one roof. Three generations, but only one branch of a scraggy tree; they are a war-haunted family in a war-torn century. Having survived the trenches of World War I as an Austro-Hungarian conscript, Vinich journeyed to America and built a life for his family. His daughter married the Hungarian-born Bexhet Konar, who enlisted to fight with the Americans in the Second World War but brought disgrace on the family when he was imprisoned for desertion. He returned home to Pennsylvania a hollow man, only to be killed in a hunting accident on the family’s land. Finally, in 1971, Hannah’s prodigal younger son, Sam, was reported MIA in Vietnam.
And so there is only Bo, a quiet man full of conviction, a proud work ethic, and a firstborn’s sense of duty. He is left to grieve but also to hope for reunion, to create a new life, to embrace the land and work its soil through the seasons. The Signal Flame is a stirring novel about generations of men and women and the events that define them, brothers who take different paths, the old European values yielding to new world ways, and the convalescence of memory and war.
Beginning shortly after Easter in 1972 and ending on Christmas Eve this ambitious novel beautifully evokes ordinary time, a period of living and working while waiting and watching and expecting. The Signal Flame is gorgeously written, honoring the cycles of earth and body, humming with blood and passion, and it confirms Andrew Krivak as a writer of extraordinary vision and power.
The entire time I was reading this, up to and including the last page, I was waiting for something to happen. I could half say I was bored but I was also just anticipating that there would be some message or some action or something that would turn this book around for me. I liked the writing but the story was . . . a bit lacking. This really revolved around this place Dardan, Pennsylvania, which didn't totally fascinate me. It follows the Vinich family from the original purchase of the land through every single possible tragedy you can imagine. So, I guess I could describe this book to you as the one where nothing happens but everyone dies. You may like this if you like incredibly slow stories with epic family minutiae.
The Signal Flame comes out today on January 24, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
Dardan, Pennsylvania sits in the yawning cut of three mountains that long ago pushed away rather than collide as they rose, so that they came to resemble, in the topographic lines drawn later by the mapmakers, an unattached letter K.