As Tod Wodicka’s All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well opens, Burt Hecker is taking part in celebrations for the nine-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Hildegard of Bingen, nun, prophet, and composer. Members of the group with which he is traveling are reenacting the hermetic life of an anchorite, sequestered for a few days in an isolated tent. Although Hecker is on the outside, shutting the other members away from the world, he is, for all intents and purposes, an anchorite in the twentieth century. His beloved wife, Kitty, has died of cancer, compounding the disarray of his life. Tolerant and loving, Kitty had been his anchor in a modern world where Hecker has never really belonged. Founder of the Confraternity of Lost Times Regained, Hecker has attempted to live in medieval times, wearing the clothes, eating the food, making and using the artifacts of that era, all while obsessively striving not to be out of period (OOP). He has gathered around him a small group of equally dedicated reenactors, who meet periodically to live as fully as possible a medieval life.
The irony is that Hecker has spent most of his adult life OOP, with Kitty acting as his bulwark against the modern world. Kitty ran a successful period hotel, the Mansion Inn, while Hecker lurked in the background, having abandoned his training as a high school history teacher. Instead, he devoted himself to recovering the lost skills and arts of the medieval period, assisted in this by Tristan, his son and initially eager follower. His daughter, June, on the other hand, had long since rejected everything her father stood for, striving to be as modern as possible, becoming an obsessive fan of the television series Star Trek and all forms of science fiction. As an adult, she marries a dull but modern man and moves across the United States, as far from her father as possible. She refuses to speak to him, and she encourages her children to fear their crazy grandfather.
As he grew older, Tristan came under the influence of his grandmother, Anna Bibko, mother of Kitty. Daughter of Polish immigrants who originally embraced all things American, she has gradually turned back to her roots, among the neglected Lemko people from the Carpathian Mountains. From her and from his travels to her ancestral land, Tristan has learned the music and the customs of the Lemko. Just as his father lives in the Middle Ages, Tristan vigorously embraces all...
(The entire section is 1014 words.)