Jupiter, Illinois a novel assumed published, copyright and written by William Graham.
The story begins with an explanation about the birth of Jupiter, Illinois. In 1867 two staunch friend graduates in the classics from Yale University arrived in the prairieland of central Illinois about two hundred miles south of Chicago and decided to build their own college with surrounding town. As sons of wealthy shipping magnates from New York City, they could well afford to purchase and establish the college and with complete faith that their institution named Byron College after their favorite poet, Lord Byron, would excel in teaching all aspects of scholarship and business to its assumed burgeoning supply of students, they proceeded with the next step. The town was established and named Jupiter after the Roman god of sky and thunder. From this introductory description the story moves immediately to a number of years later when the college appears not to have developed to the founders intended level and is pretty much forgotten. However, several plots develop within the town and its residents and are followed through a number of years. The town also has been hit hard by the closing of a factory that manufactured automobiles, the main source of income for the residents. The story from hear on, follows the activities of the largely middle class residents with advent of a tremendously wealthy entrepreneur who makes a deal with the mayor to reopen the abandoned automobile factory. He intended to produce a new version of an electric automobile and had decided to build a new and extravagantly designed home as well. Rules of the new factory employment were not particularly compatible with the employees’ best interests and together with the plant owner’s outrageously expensive house design, trouble ensued. The story proceeds as it plays out the activities of a number of the residents.
Discussion: This is an interesting book in that it provides an unvarnished picture of the lives of important players in a relatively small Midwestern town formerly dependent upon a now closed factory as the main source of income for most residents and a college that also had not lived up to the founders’ expectations. New blood is provided by entree of an extremely wealthy entrepreneur who offers to reopen the empty factory owned by the city, and also to join the community by building a new home of very costly design for him and his younger new wife. His rules of employee function, quite unfavorable to the employees, begin to generate dissatisfaction and are exacerbated by the costly construction of his new home. The activities of a number of the involved citizens are followed as each of their stories unfold.
The author appears to be a well-developed writer with excellent educational background and a large number of credits in published works including poetry, adult and young adult fiction, travel and biography. His style seems to be to present the unadorned facts of activities, whether business or more personal relationships. It is a style that brings to mind the theme of an old TV series based upon the main character, Sgt. Friday, stating to an interviewee, “Just the facts, Mam, Only the facts.” It is a technique allowing the reader to decide whether or not characters are ‘worthy’ of empathy. (A psychological note – perhaps a thought pattern that could develop in residents of a town who had lived through this town’s past and present problems?)
5* Enjoyable story from several perspectives