The Lightning Keeper

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Click here for a list of interest-specific sites grouped by category. If you are located outside the U. This is the story of an unlikely love at the dawn of the electric age in America. In , Toma Pekocevic is a penniless immigrant in New York recently escaped from the bloody politics of the Balkans that has claimed most of his family. He is also a gifted inventor who designs a revolutionary water turbine while working with Harriet Bigelow, scion of a proud Connecticut iron-making dynasty now fallen on hard times.

Their attraction is immediate and overwhelming, but every circumstance is against them.

Toma's invention is all he has after losing Harriet to a wealthy politician, but he is determined to win her back, setting the stage for a confrontation that could change not only his life but the course of scientific progress. Thanks for signing up! We've emailed you instructions for claiming your free e-book. Tell us more about what you like to read so we can send you the best offers and opportunities. By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from Bookperk and other HarperCollins services.

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About Product Details Praise This is the story of an unlikely love at the dawn of the electric age in America. I must admit I got sucked into this book by the review on the back cover by Harper Lee but the reality was the book fell well short of her extravagant praise. I was expecting excellence in the vein of" Isaac' s Storm but this grandiose novel was seriously long bouts of boredom interspersed with episodes of domestic turbulence. Nov 25, Me rated it did not like it. I tried, but I could not get "into" this book at all. The style of writing bored me to the point where I no longer cared what happened to the main characters.

Jan 11, Mike rated it liked it.

The Lightning Keeper - Starling Lawrence - Paperback

I almost took this book back to the library before starting to read it. Once I started, I was oddly fascinated. But not in a way that would lead me to give a strong recommendation. It's well written as you'd expect from a Norton editor-in-chief. But it moves slowly, and has a 19th century feel; sections begin with a chapter of scenery-setting that's reminiscent of George Eliot.


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  4. That's a bit of an anachronism in a novel that takes place in roughly The narrator's "this is a history, not a I almost took this book back to the library before starting to read it. The narrator's "this is a history, not a novel" framing gets tiresome, particularly when he brings it back at the end. As to the story itself: It does have a pair of young lovers, who despite their magnetic attraction, never seem to be made for each other.

    Yes, Toma is a better match for Harriet than her husband, but that wouldn't be hard. Potentially more interesting is the problem of invention, creation, and systems thinking. As one of the characters says repeatedly, invention isn't the issue; it's building systems. But system building ends up with Toma caught up in a patent problem that involves both GE and Nikola Tesla who doesn't appear in the novel.

    And the way Lawrence handles this problem is hardly compelling; it's a minor thread that occasionally comes to the foreground.

    The Lightning Keeper

    So are other potential themes, including race, class, the status of immigrants. Race, class, and immigrants play an interesting role in the book's language. When Toma a Serbian immigrant is with Harriet New England heiress of a failing iron foundry , the language is decidedly late Victorian, where a lock of hair only has to brush against skin to elicit the repressed longing and desire of a lateth century heroine.

    But when he's with the mulatto girlfriend he inherited from his Black boss, the language is proto shades: He was immediately ready. Those two worlds, different as they are, never intersect. And Toma ultimately goes with suppressed desire, rather than real passion.

    Too bad for him. I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy it. This is the real Steampunk: But while Lightning Keeper is an OK book, it's not a memorable one. This is a wonderful historical novel, set around the time of World War I in northwestern Connecticut. It combines a lifelong unconsummated love affair with a realistic story of industrial progress and struggle, revolving around the Bigelow Iron Company, a maker of railroad wheels, which eventually is transformed into an experimental electrical research outpost of the General Electric Co.

    The author, Starling Lawrence, is editor in chief of W. Norton, and his sophistication and eruidition shine This is a wonderful historical novel, set around the time of World War I in northwestern Connecticut. Norton, and his sophistication and eruidition shine through in this novel, without ever making it preachy or didactic. At the heart of the story is Toma Pekocevic soon Americanized to Thomas Peacock , a Serb who has come to Beecher's Bridge to help the Bigelow company produce subway wheels, but who is really drawn there because as a young tourist guide in Europe, he had met and fallen in love with the ironmaker's daugher, Harriet, as she had with him, and now he had a chance to be near her.

    Toma's work on the wheels will end in disaster to the enterprise, but eventually, he will invent a turbine that is so valuable for electrical power generation that he will be wooed and bought out by General Electric, with the help of powerful senator Fowler Truscott. And what of his love for Harriet? His hope of marrying her will lose out to Truscott, and you'll have to read the book to find out if they are ever able to be together. The tenderness and longing of their love, even while each has agreed to stay apart, is palpable throughout the book, but equally compelling is the introduction of a real historic figure, the German electrical genius Charles Proteus Steinmetz, who is the General Electric agent who convinces Toma to take over an experiment to channel the power of lightning strikes into the electrical grid thus the title.

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    This work will set up the climax of both the industrial and romantic story lines, and will keep the tension building steadily until the end. A truly fne work, one worth indulging yourself in. May 13, Alecia Achimovich rated it really liked it. Okay, so I think this 4 star rating 3. Spoiler Warning I was so darn frustrated through three quarters of this book.

    I understand that you're having a rough time with the iron company failing. I also understand that you're not really in love with the big-shot you married, you're just seizing an opportunity to keep your family afloat. I understand less your necessity to continually torture Toma, who I gues Okay, so I think this 4 star rating 3.

    I understand less your necessity to continually torture Toma, who I guess, more or less, is accepting of the situation. Yet, as time goes on, I began to get angry with Toma and his passivity. The lack of reciprocation by Harriet became divinely justified after Toma's life in Serbia is shed light on.

    The ending, though, just drew everything together nicely. Toma finally took charge pun intended very eloquently, may I add. Harriet finally stops listening to the call of society and what everyone thinks she must do. If there was anything else lacking in this novel, I wanted more elaboration in the epilogue, perhaps an actual depiction of interactions and reactions to the outcomes of the plot. Also, the random vivid sex scenes weren't appreciated although, I may be very Harriet-esque in this particular critique.

    I just think it could have been portrayed more tastefully or didn't need to be written in at all. So, give it a try. Not my favorite book ever, but I'm glad I stuck with it until the end. Jan 26, Shelly rated it it was ok Shelves: However, I wish Mr. Lawrence would have stuck to the epic story and stayed away from the romance.

    It always ends up graphically sexual. Romance is what girls dream about; from Cinderella dresses and rescues to flower deliveries on anniversaries after spouses die and for some reason male authors have a difficult time transl With a name like "Starling Lawrence" as the writer I was expecting Epic and it was Epic. Romance is what girls dream about; from Cinderella dresses and rescues to flower deliveries on anniversaries after spouses die and for some reason male authors have a difficult time translating this to the written page.

    Having said that, I really enjoyed the story about the science and wish there had been a little more of that human drama and struggle imagined and written about. I have a feeling that if Mr. Lawrence hadn't tried so hard to tell the "romance" it would have come through on it's own. If not for that this would probably have been a 3 star review. Sep 17, Text Addict rated it did not like it Shelves: So I was thinking about early 20th century industrialization doesn't everybody do that sometimes?

    It wasn't that the main character was so obviously inspired by Nikola Tesla. It wasn't the historical details - those seemed good, and I enjoyed seeing slightly-reworked locales that I'm familiar with from real history. And the writing was quite good. No, it was the treatment of a major secondary character, a So I was thinking about early 20th century industrialization doesn't everybody do that sometimes? No, it was the treatment of a major secondary character, an extremely talented African-American machinist. He was portrayed as morally suspect at first, then switched into morally unindicted so to speak , and then killed in a particularly grotesque and undignified manner - which gave the white protagonist unimpeded access to his very light-skinned de facto widow.

    Fuuuuuuck you, Lawrence, said I, and didn't actually throw the book - I'd gotten it out of the public library, and besides, it's a hefty tome and might've damaged the wall. But it went back with the rest of it unread. Feb 19, Laura rated it really liked it. I was trapped with the opening paragraphs where Toma meets Harriet while she is on vacation with her family.

    Fast forward and one day Harriet see's this same person in New York where he is escaping from the politics of the Balkans. He is a gifted inventor and ponders over the workings of water power. Setting in the early 's shows his interest results in patent of a water turbine which caught the interest of General Electric who plans to provide electricity to the entire country.

    Interesting I was trapped with the opening paragraphs where Toma meets Harriet while she is on vacation with her family. Interesting how one small inventor can be true to his design. Thought-out invention time his interest in Harriet never waivers and her interest in him. Even after an arranged marriage of Harriet, Toma still hopes. Harriet is a individual in her own rights being the keeper of books for her father's iron's work company in Beacher's Bridge, Connecticut. Her actions shows the love she has for family when she tried to take care of her father when his hearing loss and decline into senility.

    The ending fulfills the longings of these two people. This book was really wonderfully written, kudos to the author; it was obvious right off the bat that he is educated and knows what he is talking about. That being said, I found the story slightly interesting and a little boring at the same time. Set in new England around the year , the story is about a young inventor toying around with electricity and what it could do. Like I said, a little boring. I truly believe that anyone who actually enjoys science and tales of the woes of early invento This book was really wonderfully written, kudos to the author; it was obvious right off the bat that he is educated and knows what he is talking about.

    I truly believe that anyone who actually enjoys science and tales of the woes of early inventors, then they would really enjoy this. It was a good book, just not something I would normally read. But it did keep me coming back until I finished it, in fact I was desperate to finish it; mainly because of the love story between the young inventor, Toma, and his employer's daughter. Thank God for the love story. I wouldn't recommend this book to just anyone only because I believe a majority of my reading friends simply would not be able to get past chapter one, but I think a select few might actually enjoy it because it makes you think and keeps you involved.

    Feb 05, Bookmarks Magazine added it. Photog Starling Lawrence, editor in chief of W. Mar 05, Kristen rated it did not like it Shelves: When reading a book begins to feel like a chore, it's time to stop. This is actually my second attempt to read this novel; I tried again because the premise - industry and invention in northeastern Connecticut in - interests me.

    This time I forged on through the first third despite a paucity of both roller derby and boyfriend. Things picked up for a while in the technology department, but the mid-book twist - the spectacular and ignominious death by misadventure of an important character t When reading a book begins to feel like a chore, it's time to stop.

    Things picked up for a while in the technology department, but the mid-book twist - the spectacular and ignominious death by misadventure of an important character the characterization of whom I did not like much to begin with - threw me completely out of the book. I want to like this novel, but I don't. I peeked at the end and found it was going to go more or less as I expected: No reading-as-a-chore around here except for academic purposes.

    Mar 06, Lisa rated it liked it. This book, as others have said, is laden down with too much explanation about water turbines and the early workings of General Electric. I prefer to learn things by accident while swept up in an engaging fictional story. This book is the opposite - almost non-fiction and the author deigned to craft in a fiction story line. Those of you who really like non-fiction might appreciate it more than I did I cannot give it only two stars, though, because the writing is so well done and exquisite. Lawrence is a master of his craft, and the book swept me along, although I confess to skipping over large sections of technical detail.

    The writing is good enough for me to wish to give it more stars, but There is a lot of technical information in this book about the development of subways, turbines, iron works, patents, scientific progress, and so on. I sometimes got bored reading about it but was also fascinated by how things worked during this time in US history. I like the author's style.