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The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux
Byron Aldridge is the elder son of a wealthy mill-owning family in Pennsylvania who comes back from World War I a changed man. Once the family discovers he's working as a lawman in a mill town in southern Louisiana, they buy up the mill and send his brother, Randolph to run the mill and try to bring Byron back home. Together the brothers run the mill and their wives try to adapt to an environment that is more foreign than they could have ever imagined. The men that work in the mill must cope with the snakes, alligators, and other dangers of the cypress swamps. The only entertainment in town is the saloon where booze, women, and violence can be found. The Clearing is about loss, love, family, marriage, and the effect violence has on compassionate men and has received high praise in many quarters. The New Orleans Times-Picayune says, "Tim Gautreaux has given us a glimpse into the lives of hard-working men, hard-loving women, and a rich little slice of Louisiana life that belongs to us all. Wit, wisdom and heart are all combined in perfect proportion in this astonishing and unforgettable novel."