When the dot-com bubble bursts at the end of the 20th century, George Bailey reassesses his life. He worries that his family is going to have to adjust to a diminished lifestyle and that his son, a troubled teenager, will have to go back to public school. Looking for answers and ways out of his predicament, George travels to Abbeville, the small town in central Illinois where his grandfather lived most of his life. His grandfather, Karl Schumpeter, started out as a farmhand, became a lumberjack, and then a banker and a successful businessman. But he was wiped out during the Depression and ended up in prison. Still, George remembers him as a happy man, a janitor and a postman, who was beloved by his family and respected by the community. What happened to him, George wonders. How did his grandfather manage the comeback? Is there a lesson in the tale for him?
Pulitzer Prize-winning Jack Fuller’s seventh novel tells a simple story about the true meaning of success and failure and about the generosity, decency, and grit of ordinary people. Fuller writes with elegance and a beautiful, calm voice: “It was the way of the world to put obstacles in the path between a man and the things he wanted or was obliged to do. Otherwise… a soul would never be measured.” Fuller tests his characters, and in the process, he shows how to overcome life’s quandaries. When George draws his lesson, this is no longer the tale of an extraordinary man and of a small town going through hard times; rather, Abbeville and the message become universal. A heart-warming, lovely read.