Afton: A Novel by Ellen LaConte
"It is perhaps the best new novel I have read in twenty years."
—Miles Frieden, Former Executive Director, Key West Literary Seminar
"...the writing is remarkably vivid. And that is very rare."
—Susan Shreve, author of A Student of Living Things and Board Co-Chairman of the Pen/Faulkner Foundation
It’s 1991 and greed is God. Money men are dreaming big, few bigger than Trump-competitor Rawden Darien. The Manhattan developer has investors, architects, and builders lined up to turn the breathtakingly beautiful Afton River delta and saltmarsh—located conveniently on Connecticut’s Gold Coast between big spenders in New York and Boston—into an upscale resort, condo, and retail complex. He’s confident Braeton Mills’ cash-strapped town fathers will see green, eagerly sell off “the swamp” to rake in new taxes, reap jobs, and win re-election. It’s a win-win.
But for bewildered, soon-to-be-widowed Hannah Walker, retiring landscape artist, Leslie Willoes, beloved children’s book author Jane Howard, and covert environmental activist Annabella Wedgwood, the destruction of the marshland is inconceivable. The Afton Marches are a singular place of solace, solitude, self-discovery and healing, rich with wild life and history. For Leslie Willoes they offer an opening into “designs grander than our own.” As spring yields to summer, they and their friends and opponents, including their friend, the only locally-born child of mill-workers, are an accidental community caught up in the fate of the Afton. They will suffer betrayals, disappointments, and losses. They will also discover gifts, strengths, and second chances. At its heart this is the story of one woman’s journey from psychological abuse and self-deprecation to finding her true self, her calling and, perhaps her passion. But, in reality, no one’s life will be unchanged by one man’s ambition to own the Afton.
Deemed a "stylish debut" by Kirkus reviews, Afton is by turns poignant, sad, funny, mesmerizing, evocative, and all too real.
A freelance writer, stringer, and editor of nonfiction—newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and memoirs—and dabbler in short stories for over forty years, Ellen LaConte's widely-endorsed Life Rules: Nature's Blueprint for Surviving Economic and Environmental Collapse was published by New Society Publishers in 2012.