Review: New England White by Stephen L. Carter

Stephen L. Carter 978-0375413629        Borzoi / Alfred A. Knopf  556 Pages; First Printing: June  2007

An engaging novel tackling many subjects and themes, Stephen L. Carter’s New England White heads directly into the storm that is masked northern liberal racism. The setting is as important as the characters. It is months after Lemaster Carlyle has left his job at the White House to become the president of the university where his wife, Julia, is an assistant dean in the divinity school. Returning from an evening out, in the midst of a snowstorm, distracted, Lemaster veers off the road into an embankment where the couple discovers the dead body of a colleague from the university and a former lover of Julia’s.
It turns out Kellen Zant was murdered and he has left clues for Julia in regards to another murder, that of a teenage girl, decades ago, back when Lemaster was a student and roommate to the current president of the United States, his electoral opponent and the scion of a family with deep ties to the town and university. Zant’s clues are more of a nudge for Julia to reconnect with her past, her race and her God. New England White brings many battles, perhaps too many, to the forefront, including science (economics) versus religion. As Julia pursues the truth of both murders, she learns of Lemaster’s affiliation to a secret society, the balance of power between the town’s locals who have lived with all its secrets, and the newcomers whose lives and influence center around the university. In New England White, Carter constructs a complex structure with characters who balance the politics of life while doing their best to maintain their own integrity.

Recommendation: MEDIUM-HIGH


Reviewed by Guichard Cadet