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Shelby Foote's magnificently orchestrated novel anticipates much of the subject matter of his monumental Civil War trilogy, rendering the clash between North and South with a violence all the more shocking for its intimacy. Love in a Dry Season describes an erotic and economic triangle, in which two wealthy and fantastically unhappy Mississippi families—the Barcrofts and the Carrutherses—are joined by an open-faced fortune hunter from the North, a man whose ruthlessness is matched only by his inability to understand the people he tries to exploit and his fatal incomprehension of the passions he so casually ignites. Combining a flawless sense of place with a Faulknerian command of the grotesque, Foote's novel turns a small cotton town into a sexual battleground as fatal as Vicksburg or Shiloh—and one where strategy is no match for instinct and tradition.

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