Love, loss, tragedy, betrayal, the horrors of war and much more you will find in Hammon Falls, an epic American saga spanning over 115 years from the 1890’s to the present day. Roger Hileman wrote a screenplay based on his ancestors, Lester Hileman and Cora Felton and the birth of their child. Roger, together with long time friend, Dave Hoing, has turned the play into an impressive and memorable work of historical fiction.
We meet Margaret Hammon, widowed when her husband, G.W. Hammon, was killed in the Spanish-American war in 1898. G.W. was the most prominent citizen in Johnson’s Landing, a small Iowa town renamed Hammon Falls in his honor after the war. Margaret, now a wealthy recluse, raises their only child George alone. As a teenager in 1914, George had everything he could want except for a father and his mother’s affection. He takes a job below his social status as a laborer at a stable.
Cora Curtis is the only daughter of widower Orville “Luka” Curtis, a boxer, beer distributor, and gangster in the making. Luka, an established playboy, had his eye on Margaret’s money and property. But, the aloof and religious Margaret had no time for the vulgar Orville. It was only a matter of time before the offspring of the area’s two richest families would get together. The blossoming teen romance of George and Cora would end abruptly with a tragic birth and George running away to war torn Europe.
William Hammon would grow up with nothing more from his father than a battlefield photograph from 1915, taken at the height of the Great War in Belgium. George would stay in Europe for two decades after WWI, through the Spanish Flu pandemic, heartbreak and a battle with alcohol in the slums of Paris and Ireland.
The story unfolds out of sequence with chapters named after the main character, with the setting and year named such as Will, Waterton Iowa, 2009, or George Ypres Belgium 1915. Many storylines such as George’s short time with Cora, Luka’s rise in organized crime, and William as a teen, are explored to completion for a wonderful ending that leaves no loose ends. Plenty of conflict, surprises, and drama exist to keep the pages turning and I finished the book much sooner than expected.
Readers who haven’t previously been fans of historical fiction will be after reading this book. Those who enjoy this genre are in for a treat as Hammon Falls delivers with an intriguing story, interesting and believable characters, and dialogue authentic to the mid-west. The authors have thoroughly researched the settings and represented time periods. The character development is amazing throughout and I could fully imagine even secondary characters. The prose has a lyrical quality that is a joy to read. At the end I found myself not ready to let this story go—wishing I could continue to immerse myself in just a few more pages.
Hammon Falls receives the highest recommendation from William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews.