Clair de Lune


What was life like for a 25-year-old female junior college professor in Missouri in 1941? America has not entered the war yet, and the country is still reeling from post-Depression economic devastation. Allen Liles is a smart young woman determined to make her dreams of becoming a great writer come true. Most of all, however, she is shaped by her mother’s cautious warnings about proper behavior, coupled with the knowledge that her free-spirit attitude is too much like the irresponsible attitude of her deceased father.

For now, until she can pay off some debt for her education, she is teaching her classes and holding “seminars” at her home after school hours. She loves hosting the male and female students, who passionately discuss great writers, politics, news, philosophy, etc., while snacking and drinking wine. Gradually, the group dwindles to just Allen and two young men, George and Toby; their sessions begin to move out onto the town where they drink, play, and cavort in seemingly innocent ways and then some that might be construed as troublesome.

One wonders where the plot is going when it all comes to a grand halt amid accusations that change Allen’s perspective about dreams, freedom, and the boundaries of acceptable social behavior. Paul Verlaine’s poem, later put to music by Debussy, comes to life in this historical novel about ecstasy and loss in mid-20th century America.

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