With the nation moving toward Civil War, James Turner, a charming, impulsive writer and lecturer, Charlotte, his down-to-earth bride, and Cabot, an idealistic Harvard-educated abolitionist are drawn together in a social experiment deep in the Missouri Ozarks.
Inspired by utopian dreams of building a new society, Turner is given a tract of land to found the community of Daybreak. But not everyone involved in the project is a willing partner and being the leader of a farming community out in the middle of nowhere isn’t exactly the life Turner envisioned. Charlotte, confronted with the hardships of rural life, must mature in a hurry to deal with the challenges of building the community while facing her husband’s betrayals and her growing attraction to Cabot. In turn, Cabot struggles to reconcile his need to leave Daybreak to join the fight against slavery and his desire to stay near the woman he loves. As the war draws ever closer, the utopians try to remain neutral and friendly to all, but soon find neutrality is not an option. In the wake of a deadly bushwhacking, Turner discovers that he too has the capacity for ferocious violence. When war finally breaks out, Missouri descends into its uniquely savage brand of conflict in which guerrilla bands terrorize the countryside while Federal troops control the cities, and in which neither side offers or expects quarter. Ultimately, each member of Daybreak must take a stand—both in their political and personal lives.
About the Author
Steve Wiegenstein attended college at the University of Missouri, worked as a newspaper reporter, and then returned to Mizzou where he received a Ph.D. in English and embarked upon an academic career. He has taught at Centenary College of Louisiana, Drury College (now “university”), Culver-Stockton College, and Western Kentucky University and is currently the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at Columbia College in Columbia, MO.
Published by Blank Slate Press, paperback, 2012. 303 pages.