Karen Karbo
August 03, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hewitt Pearce is a middle-aged blacksmith living in rural Vermont who’s spent the last 20-odd years crawling from the wreckage of a first love gone wrong in A Peculiar Grace. One night, a beautiful homeless waif and her psychedelic VW pull onto Hewitt’s property and into his life — a tad improbably, given his hermitlike ways and her insufferable personality. Hewitt’s old flame also re-appears, and both women unwittingly manage to help him reconnect to life. Jeffrey Lent has been likened to Cormac McCarthy, a comparison borne out in this lovely, slow-moving river of a novel and its ability to capture the voluptuousness of a man’s solitude. B+

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