January 18, 2018

The Lightning Keeper

By Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA

Editor’s Pick for January 31, 2006

The Lightning Keeper In a small Connecticut town in early 20th-century America, at a time when electricity is still a newfangled invention, Harriet Bigelow struggles with the decline of both her father’s mental health and the family ironworks business, for which she has an aptitude. Then Balkan immigrant Toma Pekocevic (seen in Norton editor in chief Lawrence’s previous novel, Montenegro) gets involved in the business, and his genius for invention and passion for Harriet combine to create a tension and suspense that carry the reader to the novel’s end. Adding to the tension is wealthy Senator Truscott, whose own interest in Harriet and the Bigelow Iron Company forces Harriet to make some difficult decisions. Lawrence blends science and romance into an immensely readable story; his descriptions of the ironworks, Toma’s water turbine, and the experiments for capturing lightning are as exciting as they are beautiful (in fact, this "technical" aspect is more about passion and the palpable connection between Harriet and Toma). Including historical photographs and appearances by real-life inventors, Lawrence’s latest is recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05.]