Cover image for Lost nation
Lost nation
Lent, Jeffrey.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
370 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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A New York Times Bestselling Author A man known only as Blood guides an oxcart of rum toward the wild country high in New Hampshire. A man of learning and wisdom with a secret past that has scorched his soul, Blood sets forth to establish himself as a trader.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In 1838, a man called Blood opens a tavern and one-girl brothel in an ungoverned area on the New Hampshire^-Canada border. His prostitute, Sally, is a teenager he won in a game of cards. While the territory is already home to a number of society's escapees, Blood's presence introduces a new volatility. Blood and Sally's relationship grows in unpredictable ways, the law threatens to descend, and Blood's secret past returns in a surprising manner. Lent's follow-up to his acclaimed In the Fall (2000) is a strong book, and the author has tremendous literary gifts: a fine ear for speech, a keen eye for period detail, the ability to craft a well-turned phrase and create rich interior lives for his characters. Unfortunately, this compelling story suffers from a near-deadly lull before the final storm, when his rustic characters settle in for what is essentially a fireside Oprah chat. Despite the rich language and obvious depth of thought, there are elements--the sassy whore, the tough and tortured loner, the final shootout--that still feel like Wild West cliches. --Keir Graff

Publisher's Weekly Review

While the classic western naturally concentrates on the West, there were pockets in the East that were as wild as Dodge City, and Lent has found one in his second novel. Northern New Hampshire in 1838 was a long way from Nathaniel Hawthorne's civilized Boston. The ominously self-named Mr. Blood trails a mysterious past into the area, bringing "twin hogsheads of black Barbados rum," some casks of gunpowder and a 16-year-old whore named Sally whom he purchased in Portland, Maine. When Blood opens his tavern, he warns Sally to be wary of the clientele, which is good advice. Trappers, outlaws and Indians wreak havoc on each other in the cold wilderness. When the high sheriff of Coos County decides to bring a little law and order to the region, he and his men are ambushed. While Blood tries to mediate a truce, his past catches up with him in the person of two boys who have come from down south, Fletcher and Cooper. Unbeknownst to Blood, these are his sons. Fletcher falls for Sally, and when Blood is arrested by a Canadian force for complicity in the murder of a French-Canadian trader, Sally goes to Fletcher for help. Lent's novel strains under the stylistic influence of Cormac McCarthy, making its way in long sentences with a paucity of commas and a surfeit of gore: "Crane had been bound hand and foot, his arms tight to his sides, and buried up to his neck in a small beaver bog that was boiling with mosquitoes and deerflies. Very precisely his eyelids had been cut away." However, it tells a rousing tale that will surely please the readers of his first, bestselling novel, In the Fall. Agent, Kim Witherspoon, Witherspoon Associates. (May) Forecast: The success of In the Fall which has sold over 150,000 copies to date proved that readers had not yet tired of Cold Mountain-style historical fiction. Lost Nation will be yet another test of the grueling subgenre, which has found a skilled practitioner in Lent. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Lent's first novel, In the Fall, was a critically acclaimed best seller prompting comparisons to the likes of Faulkner, McCarthy, and Frost. His second, about a "man who allowed torment to eat all but the final hard stone of his soul," proves that his first success was no fluke. Set in 1836 in an ungoverned region of northern New Hampshire know as Indian Stream, it follows the story of the appropriately named Blood and Sally, a 16-year-old prostitute Blood has won in a card game whom he literally hitches to his wagon. An educated man of solid background, Blood had deserted his family following the death of his wife and eldest son, sinking into deepening despair, drifting from job to job, and learning to survive amid the harsh realities of poverty and violence. With an ox cart full of gun powder, lead, and rum, he and Sally set off for Indian Stream and what he hopes will be a new beginning. His arrival, however, is greeted with suspicion and triggers a chain of events that leads to his ultimate destruction and to Sally's redemption. A dark and bloody tale about the power of guilt, the tragedy of misapprehension, and the will to survive, it offers a powerful yet compassionate exploration into the human condition and belongs in most academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/02.] David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.