by Robert Clark
Set in Minnesota between the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the inauguration of Richard Nixon, Love Among the Ruins explores the relationships between individual lives and national events.
William Lowry, 17, and Emily Burne, 16, connect through an exchange of letters on the day that Robert Kennedy is shot in the summer of 1968.
Bill’s mother, Jane, is divorced, politically active and a delegate to the Democratic convention in Chicago. But the Chicago riots, Hubert Humphrey’s election as the Democratic presidential candidate leave her disenchanted about the chance of the Vietnam War ending early.
Emily’s parents, Edward and Virginia, are middle class Catholics in a comfortable, but passionless marriage. Virginia’s response to the news of Kennedy’s assassination is to have the family pray the rosary in his honor.
Bill and Emily move from letters to coffee dates to sex. Haunted by the possibility of being drafted and anxious about the upheavals of the summer of ’68, Bill convinces Emily that they only way they can stay together is to run away to the woods and live off the land.
Their disappearance leads to distinctly different reactions by their parents. Drawn together by their children’s disappearance, Jane and Edward are drawn into an affair. In the end, isolated on an island near the U.S.-Canadian boarder, Bill and Emily’s relationship is crushed by the burden of Bill’s expectation that they will be everything to each other.
Robert Clark’s early work focused on psychological murder mystery stories and won numerous awards, including the Edgar for Best Novel for Mr. White’s Confession. He has written a total of nine books, including In the novels Deep Midwinter and Mr. White’s Confession as well as nonfiction books that include The Solace of Food: A Life of James Beard, River of the West and My Grandfather’s House.
Born and raised in St. Paul, MN, Clark earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a a master’s degree in medieval studies from the University of London. For many years he was a a freelance journalist and editor specializing in travel, food and wine.