By Thomas Tryon
Forget the fact that this novel was published nearly 50 years ago. It still holds its own as a well-written, suspenseful book.
Thomas Tryon paints a postcard-perfect autumn in a quaint, historic New England village, Cornwall Coombe. Then he swaddles it in suspense and dread and adds a shocking climax.
Curl by a fire with a glass of mulled wine or ale and escape into a world where traditions run deep.
Theodore “Ned” Constantine, his wife Beth and daughter Kate have left the dangers and stresses of New York City to live in the country. They feel lucky to have been able to buy a 300-year-old wreck of a house that initially wasn’t for sale. Ned resigned from his job as an advertising executive with a large New York firm to work as a fine artist in the studio he converted from an old chicken house.
His nervous and overprotective wife is welcomed into village life by the Widow Fortune, a healer, midwife and herbalist. She is often seen driving country roads in her horse-drawn buggy. She sets an example for local farm wives who also invite Beth into their activities.
This is a close-knit community of corn farmers whose families have lived in Cornwall Coombe for generations. They hold tightly to their traditions. Community celebrations revolve around the changing cycles of the corn — Planting Day, Spring Festival, Midsummer’s Eve, the Agnes Fair, the Days of Seasoning and the four-day-long Harvest Home, with its Corn Play and Kindling Night.
Ned roams the countryside sketching and painting. But the more time he spends in the community, the more cracks he begins to see. His teenage handyman is rebelling against the local farmers’ resistance to using mechanical devices such as tractors, tillers and threshers. He’s also fighting the pressure on him to take his place in the local caste system. Ned pokes deeper and deeper into the town’s outcasts, including a woman whose grave is outside the village cemetery.
Ned slowly begins to realize that Cornwall Coombe’s folk ways aren’t just traditional, they are primordial. But as Ned’s knowledge builds, will he be able to save himself and his family from the dangers lurking around them?
About the Author: Thomas Tryon (1926 – 1991)
Thomas Tryon was an actor and novelist.
As an actor, he is best known for playing the title role in “The Cardinal” (1963). He also had roles in “The Longest Day” (1962) and “In Harm’s Way” (1965) with John Wayne. He played Texas John Slaughter in a series of TV movies for Disney from 1958 to 1961. He was the executive producer of “Johnny Got His Gun” (1971).
In 1969, he retired from acting and became a writer of science fiction, horror and mystery novels and screenplays. He is best known for the novel THE OTHER (1971), about a boy whose evil twin brother may or may not be responsible for a series of deaths in a rural Depression Era-community.
HARVEST HOME (1973) was adapted as “The Dark Secret of Harvest Home” (1978), a television miniseries starring Bette Davis.