Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Door-Man by Peter Wheelwright


Piedmont Kinsolver is a doorman at an apartment building in Manhattan across from Central Park.  He knows the lives of those who live in the building but they don't know his.  They would be shocked to find out that he lives in an apartment building much like theirs on the other side of the Park, in the penthouse suite.

Piedmont is part of an intertwined set of families that have connections to the town of Gilboa, New York.  It was a lost town, flooded under to make a reservoir that could supply water to New York City.  The families were local inhabitants, African American tradesmen and three sisters who loved various men.  The Goldring sisters were led by the oldest, Winifred, who was a paleontologist who came to the area to study fossils revealed by the water works.  All three sisters had children who often were farmed out to others to raise.  Piedmont, Winnie's grandson, didn't even know who his parents were until he was grown.  

The novel follows the various families and their connections in New York and Florida along with the original inhabitants of the area.  There are secrets and murders that cast long shadows down the decades.  Piedmont is determined to discover the truth behind the secrets and put to rest the rumors that have haunted his family for decades.  He is assisted by several of his cousins and fought by a senator who has ties to the area.  

This epic generational novel was listed among The Best Books of 2022 by the New Yorker.  It is based on true events and the reader will learn much about the natural history of upstate New York as well as about the fossils left behind in this area.  It is an engrossing read as one moves through the generations and works out the relationship between the characters.  There is much intrigue and twists as the secrets unfold as the large cast of characters live and love and conspire.  The author is a designer with work in MOMA as well as a naturalist and an educator.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.    

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