Published by Lake Union Publising, October 21, 2014
I read Certainty as part of a TLC Book tour. I read the following summary of the book and knew I had to read it and participate in the tour:
Inspired by the scandalous true story that shocked a nation at the close of WWI.
With America’s entry into World War 1, the population of Newport, Rhode Island seems to double overnight as twenty-five thousand rowdy recruits descend on the Naval Training Station. Drinking, prostitution, and other depravities follow the sailors, transforming the upscale town into what many residents—including young lawyer William Bartlett, whose genteel family has lived in Newport for generations—consider to be a moral cesspool.
When sailors accuse a beloved local clergyman of sexual impropriety, William feels compelled to fight back. He agrees to defend the minister against the shocking allegations, in the face of dire personal and professional consequences. But when the trial grows increasingly sensational, and when outrageous revelations echo all the way from Newport to the federal government, William must confront more than just the truth—he must confront the very nature of good and evil.
Lately I’ve been curious about what life was like during the 1920s and 1930s and I’ve been reading quite a few novels from that period. Fortunately for me, Certainty put me right there.
Often we think our current cultural and social issues are ours alone. But a look back, through the eyes of this novel, made me realize that, even nearly a hundred years ago, we were fighting most of our same issues. There were many complaining about the subjugation of women and extreme racial discrimination.
There was much less conversation about sexual equality back then, but as Certainty shows, there was one legal case that had an impact. Of course it took many decades before homosexuals and lesbians could behave normally, evan though that still isn’t a universal experience.
Reading and thinking about the issues was enjoyable, but I also liked the characters. The priest, Kent, is truly a man to be admired. As the attorney, William, first met him, he realized that Kent was a person who sincerely believed his mission in life was to help others. William was amazed at the priest’s honesty. Here’s part of their conversation. William asked,
“Do you truly believe, against all odds, that you’re making a difference by what you’re doing?”
Kent took a thoughtful pause. “My pride would like to answer, ‘yes.’ ” He sighed. “But the simple truth is that I haven’t the faintest idea.”
When the immorality charges come against the priest, he calls William first. Because William has such respect for Kent, he is more than willing to defend the man in spite of enormous pressure on him from his family and community.
I definitely recommend this well written, thought-provoking novel.