Before the Darkness Falls

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Brownings and Mackays are lifelong friends whose lives reflect Savannah’s prevailing social and economic climate. Two of their children, Eliza Anne Mackay Stiles and Natalie Browning Latimer, have settled with their spouses on the northwest Georgia frontier. Soon, however, Eliza Anne accompanies her husband to Washington, D.C., where he serves in the Congress, and eventually to Europe when he is posted to Vienna by President James Polk as charge d’affaires. The Latimers remain in northwest Georgia, making a success of frontier life. The Brownings’ son, Jonathan, imprudently falls in love with a half-Cherokee woman whom he marries and brings to Savannah to live while he gradually takes over the reins of his father’s business.

Clearly a novel designed to link the first two books of the Savannah Quartet with what promises to be the climactic concluding novel, BEFORE THE DARKNESS FALLS relies heavily on conversation between characters rather than action to tell its story. This intensively researched book mixes such historical characters as W.H. and Eliza Anne Stiles and Robert E. Lee with such fictitious characters as Mark, Carolyn, and Jonathan Browning and Natalie and Burke Latimer. As the author works to lay the background for her proposed final volume, she loads the dialogue with references to historical figures and events almost to the exclusion of any discernible story line. Readers of the earlier novels in the series may find BEFORE THE DARKNESS FALLS a highly readable sequel. The first-time reader of a Eugenia Price novel, however, may be disappointed by this book.