Rainbows at Midnight
This book has one of the worst covers I have ever seen in while. He has no shirt on, she is falling out of her gown. Judging from the expressions on the model’s faces, they are totally self absorbed. The book opens with one of those hard-to-take plots involving a will which states the hero has to marry before a certain time or lose his inheritance. Well, I never, ever judge a book by its cover and I can handle some minor plot cliches. So here we go….
The setting is 1911 Alaska. Laura Templeton has come to the small town of Gold Landing as the new school teacher. Laura, who was the daughter of wealthy Seattle parents, had married the handsome but no good Roy Templeton. Roy thought that his marriage would set him up for life, but when Laura’s parents disowned her, he was left out of the money. Since Roy was too good to work, he ran off and left Laura and their twins, so she has come to Alaska to begin a new life. And Roy? He’s in jail for assault.
Sam Baranov is a mill owner and maker of fine furniture. His late father’s will stated that the family shipping business was to be left in trust for him and then he will inherit it provided he is married by his 25th birthday. Sam’s eeevil stepbrother and his eeevil stepmother have kept all this from him. They lived in Seward – he lived in Gold Landing. Since they all hate each other and don’t communicate, Sam didn’t know about the will until he only has a few months left to find a wife.
Eligible women are not all that common on the Alaskan frontier, but there is Charlotte, the daughter of the town minister. She’s only 17 and shy as can be, but she’s single so Sam sets out to court her. Then in comes Laura.
I wanted so much to like this book. I loved the setting, and I love good Americana. But Rainbows At Midnight has so many problems that it makes for an entirely frustrating reading experience.
There is a lot going on in this book. There is the primary love story of Sam and Laura, a secondary love story involving Charlotte and the young man she loves, Laura’s plan to bring the Alaskan Indians into the school, a pneumonia epidemic that causes several deaths, Sam’s problems with finding a wife and his issues with his family.
All these problems are dealt with in a bloodless manner. In the hands of some writers I can think of, this book could have been enormously touching and I would have had to get out the hankies. But I was not moved, not at all. Even the death scenes which should have had me tearing up, left me quite dry eyed.
Sam was nice, Laura was nice, but they were both distant characters who often acted in inexplicable ways. For example, Sam needs a wife. Here is an intelligent, pretty young woman who comes to a town that is short of eligible women. Sam immediately decides she is not for him; he doesn’t like widows because his horrid stepmother was a widow and widows are all eeevil. Now really! When Sam and Laura finally do decide to marry, she says she wants a marriage of convenience. Why? By this time, she is in love with him and a marriage of convenience would make no sense. Sam’s horrid step-brother George, was a caricature. When they were young boys, he tormented Sam and even shut him up in a coffin. Now that George is an adult he is still horrid. We’ve met villians who are wife-beaters and animal-kickers. This guy spits on women’s skirts. George is supposed to be the big bad villain, but I thought he came off as a petulant, overgrown brat who was bad because mommy told him to be.
Oh well, I’ll chalk Rainbows At Midnight down as a book with excellent intentions, and lots of potential – potential that never came close to being fulfilled.
|Review Date:||February 24, 2002|