A. Dudley Johnson, Jr. pens a story of forbidden love in his debut novel, Adirondack.
In 1897, Anna Tattersall finds herself growing apart from her husband Will. They enjoy a prosperous life with their two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut, where Anna participates contentedly in societal events. But as Will’s legal practice grows, he spends more time in New York City, and the city’s excitement becomes increasingly appealing to him but not to her.
Anna hopes to rekindle their love during their annual vacation in the Adirondacks. However, after Will returns home due to business, Anna begins a romance with a wealthy Native American (referred to by the author as “Indian,” as was then customary) who rescues her during a surprise storm. She now must consider whether to follow her heart and risk her marriage and social standing or reject her newfound feelings.
Johnson immediately draws readers into Anna’s world. The author notes that he combed through his great-great-grandmother’s diaries for details of Keene Valley life, and he richly describes the region’s allures, from the mountains “breathtaking in their splendor and glorious in their rugged beauty,” to the aroma of “bacon and eggs mixed with the smell of the fresh mountain dew and the forest bed of needles unique to the Adirondacks alone.” The story proceeds swiftly through short chapters, including several bodice-ripping scenes, populated with interesting characters.
BLUE INK REVIEW
A charming and sensual exploration of the tension between social norms and personal freedom, Adirondack by A. Dudley Johnson, Jr., is a delightful, escapist read. The novel depicts a community of temporary summer residents who delight in one another’s trials and tribulations.
Anna Tattersall is a young mother who expertly plays the part of a doting wife. Rumors abound when her husband, Will, leaves the family at their summer home for long stretches to focus on his work in the city. The central tension unfolds during this one brief summer season in 1897.
In Will’s absence, Anna busies herself with hikes through the local foothills; rich, sensuous descriptions of the gorgeous natural world firmly root the story in its lush, mountainous setting. One of Anna’s ventures results in a chance encounter with a Native American man named Ausable who defies the persistent stereotypes of the day, and to whom Anna feels insatiably attracted.
Anna and Ausable’s affair is passionate and idyllic, but real life soon beckons. Anna must decide how to navigate the expectations of her community and of society at large, as well as how to balance them with what her body and soul truly desire. When Anna decides changes need to be made in her family’s lives, there is no turning back, and the fast- paced narrative echoes her determined move forward.
Anna is a refreshingly complex protagonist whose lack of shame about her own sexuality and adventurousness sets her apart. She is never in doubt that she deserves happiness, nor does she seem to feel an overwhelming sense of duty to put anyone else’s needs first. This is unusual for female characters, especially mothers, and her dogged pursuit of true fulfillment is a fascinating element of the story.
The supporting cast of characters makes the story truly entertaining. Aunt Lil is a dour elder who defies expectations with her adaptability. Anna’s rival-turned-confidante Margaret keeps audiences guessing about her motives. Pastor Tom is a thrilling, nonjudgmental conspirator who keeps the community’s secrets. And Anna’s husband, Will, is a hypocritical yet sympathetic man trying hard to keep up appearances while ensuring that his own adventures don’t become endangered.
The resolution of the central tension remains satisfyingly uncertain until the very last few pages. Adirondack exists against a fun backdrop as it explores a family’s struggle to reconcile their reputation with deeply conflicting individual desires.
Is there an expiration date on a marriage? Sounds like a ridiculous question, doesn't it? Adirondack by A. Dudley Johnson Jr. puts the marriage of his fictitious characters, Anna and Will, to the test to explore this strange question. Anna and Will have been childhood friends and their marriage has been a happy one -- at least on the surface. They are blessed with two lovely kids, Paul and Sam. Lately, Anna has been noticing a vast change in Will's behavior. He has been throwing himself into his work more and giving very little time to his relationship with Anna. They are drifting apart, and it seems there is nothing she can do about it -- or is there?
The plot is interesting with lots of twists to keep a reader occupied. Although the story is set in an older time period, it remains relatable, even in this age and time. The pressure of doing the right thing to the person you have been with for years and yourself is really hard on all of us. When Anna finds her relationship dying, she has to think about her kids, Will, and herself. She even has to think about society. One cannot just pack up and leave. There are so many things to consider and the author has described each one of those things in depth. The conversations flow smoothly. The story develops slowly but never gets boring. As the book has a few graphic sexual scenes, it is definitely recommended for an adult audience.