About The Book
It’s the height of summer, 1999, when the local newspaper, the Record Sun, receives numerous tip-offs from anonymous callers warning of violence, weapons stockpiling, and rampant child abuse at the nearby homeschool on Heart’s Content Road. Hungry for a big break into serious journalism, ingénue columnist Ivy Morelli sets out to meet the mysterious leader of the homeschool, Gordon St. Onge—referred to by many as “The Prophet.” Soon, Ivy ingratiates herself into the sprawling Settlement, a self-sufficient counterculture community that many locals fear to be a wild cult. Despite her initial skepticism—not to mention the Settlement’s ever-growing group of pregnant teenaged girls—Ivy finds herself irresistibly drawn to Gordon.
Meanwhile, across town, Brianna, a gifted and disturbed teen with wild orange hair, paints her political and personal visions. At the behest of her brothers, Brianna joins the community. As her complicated, awkward relationship with Gordon unfolds, Brianna reveals herself to be a shy, yet passionate, individual, with a strange and troubling sexual past.
As the newcomers are drawn deeper into Settlement life, Gordon’s powerful magnetism and strange duality are exposed, and those rumors that led to his initial investigation seem, at times, to be all too possible realities. When the Record Sun finally runs its piece on Gordon, the exposure has a startling and unexpected effect on Settlement life and the world beyond it.
“Quirky, intensely original . . . an intellectual page-turner . . . Chute combines strident political commentary with humor, surrealism, and inventive language. Her novel, like its author . . . is multilayered and complex, deeply critical of society but fiercely devoted to humans.” —O Magazine
“Deeply felt, scorchingly funny.” —Vanity Fair
“A 700-page piece of wonderful, infuriating, narrative energy . . . This is the work of a writer at the peak of her craft.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“As always Chute’s voice is smart, funny, and fired up about righting the wrongs of the world . . . you can take Chute’s book as a warning, a letter from the future—or from the present—from people who are tired of promises and lies and just might not be willing to take it anymore.” —Boston Globe
“Chute, a longtime political activist and champion of social justice, writes like a wild animal—ferocious, playful—making mincemeat of contemporary mores. Plenty to gnaw on here.” —More
Ivy Morelli drops her sunglasses back down onto her face and turns toward the little sandy rutted parking lot. She is so very young. On fire with the present. Her dark glasses reflect two sharp hot little suns. Her small blue and pink tropical fish tattoos swim around her slim bicep. Her seven solid bracelets are both bright and noisy. Her violet tinted inverted bowl of hair has an actual metal sheen. Her stride across the lot is filled with purpose. All that clinking-clatter. She is almost an after-image of a well-armored knight. Will it be her triumph? Will the crowds cheer?
The field rises up. It is red, hazy with clouds of devil’s paintbrushes and washed-out purples of vetch. And all the greens, witchgrass, clovers and nettle, all on their toes celebrating heat, hell being their heaven.
So this is the St. Onge property. Nine hundred acres in the boonies of Egypt. And how many baby ghosts corralled within? How many Bibles? How many guns?
“What do you suppose that is?” Ivy Morelli asks herself. A peculiar thing up there along the treeline.
Looks like the rusty steel roof of a pig shed, only perfectly round.
A prickly coolness, (a warning?), moves up the back of Ivy’s damp neck. Fear. Just a few seconds of ugly unfettered terror.