We gave it an A-
In 1889, Pennsylvania’s South Fork dam burst, flooding the countryside with a 70 foot high wall of water and killing more than 2,200 people. In Sunlight, In A Beautiful Garden, a magnificently imagined novel, opens hours before the tragedy, then widens its horizons to limn the two worlds the dam divided: Overlooking it was the ritzy South Fork Club, built by and for real life steel industry magnates like Henry Frick and Andrew Carnegie (portrayed meticulously but not always animatedly here). Below the dam lay the tight knit steel mill city of Johnstown, the setting for Cambor’s more vivid storytelling — like the passionate affair between strike organizer Daniel and pampered Club regular Nora. Despite some unavoidable similarities to ”Titanic”’s watery cataclysm of class consciousness, ”In Sunlight” possesses a luminous, unsentimental artistry all its own.