THE LIGHTNING TREE
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In a previous novel by this author, A Surprising Legacy, the principal characters in this story, Amos and Sarah Carlisle, settle to a quiet country life after their nomadic existence in a gypsy caravan. Good fortune befalls them when Sarah and daughter Ruth inherit the estate of her childhood sweetheart (Ruth's father) when he was killed in action serving in King George's army in the colonies of the New World. Suddenly their tranquil life, even their marriage, is threatened by the appearance of a character claiming to be Sarah's childhood sweetheart, Joseph Craven, who was believed dead. His facial disfigurement is so severe that recognition is impossible. His memory is supposedly affected by the injuries he has suffered, but his story to explain the confusion about his supposed death is supported by a man of some substance, who claims that he served alongside Joseph as an officer in the army. The family is torn apart in considering whether the inheritance or at least some portion should be repaid to this reincarnation. His existence must be kept secret because should he be discovered, he could face the death penalty for desertion. Amos is convinced that this Joseph and his sponsors are frauds, but Sarah is almost convinced of the opposite, while Ruth desperately longs for real father to be alive.