Protagonist Kit Biddle is a rising prep school senior who finds himself tangled in a web of spiritual quandaries and intellectual absurdities. Kit’s angst is compounded by a unique psychological burden he is forced to carry: his intelligent but unstable Uncle Nat has committed an unspeakable act on what, according to the Uncle’s deranged account, were direct orders from God.
An intelligent, clever, and captivating tale, The Essence of Nathan Biddle soars in the spaces that exist between despair and hope, darkness and light, love and loss. Beautifully written, profoundly moving, and resplendent with characters destined to remain with you long after the last page is turned, The Essence of Nathan Biddle is unforgettable.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult Fiction
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
When my children were small, we spent two weeks at a beach resort we deemed sufficiently safe for them to run wild and free. (Each of our daughters took a friend, a scheme that relieved us of having to entertain them.) On a whim one summer, I decided to reread The Catcher in the Rye just for fun. I enjoyed it, particularly the aspect of it that struck a familiar chord with my own adolescence. I was also struck by the missing chords, the struggles with why and the exasperating efforts to accommodate the whims, desires and “programs” of people around me. That summer I began to sort in my mind the practical and existential issues that plagued me. My assumptions were that I was a fairly typical teenager and that, to the extent I was not typical, it might make the story more pointed. The object was to write about the angst that begins as a ripple in the early teens and becomes a tsunami as the adolescent approaches adulthood.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
In thoughts, emotions and physical description, Kit Biddle is based on me. In almost every other sense, Kit Biddle is a fictional character: I am not an only child and my mother was not a school teacher; my father committed suicide but it was after I was grown. (The description of the death of Kit’s father is actually based on the death of my grandfather, George Robert Lewis, at his farmhouse in Escatawpa, Alabama.) Like Kit, my family arrived on this continent in the 17th century (Thomas Lewis died in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, in 1672), and the family has been drawn back to Virginia. Three members of my family are UVA graduates and my grandson is now a rising junior at UVA. Since the heart of a coming-of-age story is the process of coming to terms with life as it is, not as one might wish it were, the themes should resonate. If Kit as a character resonates, I hope that means that I have come close to the truth.
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