” … a powerful, harrowing, and deeply unsettling work. It’s the sort of novel that keeps you reading even as your skin crawls and your blood pressure mounts. . . Our Daily Bread proceeds like a noose gradually tightening . . . a stark beautiful, sad and frankly terrifying novel. Our Daily Bread is finely crafted, with careful attention to characterization, style, and pacing. It succeeds on every level…” -Robert J. Wiersema, Quill & Quire magazine (Starred review)
Robert Benchely’s “Law of Distinction” states: “There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t.” Our Daily Bread explores the consequences of group attachment-the “us” versus “them” mentality that arises when a collective identity is stronger than that of the individual self. What moral ambiguities result when we view our neighbors as “The Others,” as “those people”? This is the conflict between the Erskine Clan, long-shunned by the people of Gideon, who live in secrecy and isolation on North Mountain, and whose bootlegging enterprises are expanding into metham-phetamine production and the God-fearing townspeople of nearby Gideon.
For generations the clan’s children have suffered unspeakable acts of rape, child abuse, incest, and psychological tor-ture. The intolerant, self-righteous Gideonites decline to intervene, believing their neighbors to be beyond salvation. “That’s the mountain,” they say. “What do you expect from those people?” Yet in both groups nearly everyone has a secret and nothing is as it seems.
Twenty-one-year old Albert Erskine dreams of a better life and explains to a new teenage friend from the town, Bobby Evans, the meaning of the “man’s code” on the mountain: “You keep your secrets to yourself and you keep your weaknesses a secret and your hurts a secret and your dreams you bury double deep.” Bobby’s eight-year-old sister, Ivy, suffers incessant bullying by her classmates. Her father, Tom Evans, a well-liked local bread delivery man, struggles to keep his troubled marriage together. As rumors and innuendo about the Evans family spread, Ivy seeks refuge in Dorothy Carlisle, an independent-minded widow who runs a local antique store. When Albert ventures down from the mountain and seizes on the Evans’ family crisis as an op-portunity to strengthen his friendship with Ivy’s brother Bobby, it sets in motion a chain of events which can only result in unexpected and dire results.
The novel’s tone shifts from humorous to extremely dark because each chapter is told from the differing points of view of the memorable main characters. The writing is smooth and compel-ling as this complex psychological conflict between the “us” and “them” unfolds. Our Daily Bread is a raw, convincing allegory: the Erskine Clan does not exist solely on North Mountain.
Davis credits her inspiration for her novel to the true events surrounding Nova Scotia’s Goler Clan, depicted in a book by David Cruise and Alison Griffiths entitled, On South Mountain-The Dark Secrets of the Goler Clan. Some of the dialogue during the last chapter of Our Daily Bread even comes from the actual trial transcript.
OUR DAILY BREAD
A Novel by Lauren B. Davis
Publisher: Wordcraft of Oregon, October 2011
Trade Paperback: ISBN 1877655724
Advance Praise for Our Daily Bread
“Our Daily Bread is a compelling narrative set in a closely observed, sometimes dark, but ultimately life-enhancing landscape. Lauren B. Davis’ vivid prose and empathetically developed characters will remain in the reader’s mind long after the final chapter has been read.” -Jane Urquhart, prize winning author of Away and The Stone Carvers “I’ll never forget this book, the stunning power of the descriptions, the attention to detail, the riveting plot, the fully-realized characters-this is storytelling at it’s very best.” -Duff Brenna, author of The Book of Mamie, The Holy Book of the Beard
“Wow! From the first chapter of Our Daily Bread, “up here where the view was like heaven and the living was like hell,” I was hooked-by the characters, by the flow, by the clean, rhythmic prose. This is a novel that will make you want to do something about poverty, hunger, ignorance and the people who are subjected to such conditions. An outstanding, absorbing, page-turning novel.” -Thomas E. Kennedy, author of In the Company of Angels, The Copenhagen Quartet
“Rendered with gorgeous prose, this compact, fast-moving novel features an astonishing range of tones, from hope to heartbreak, from black humor to white-knuckle terror. It will stay with you long after the covers are closed.”
-Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion