In the middle of a wedding, the small West Virginia mining town of Grantville is suddenly, without explanation, and apparently permanently transported into Germany in the year 1632, in the middle of the thirty years’ war. The people of Grantville, once they get over the shock of the fact that the countryside about their town is suddenly full of raping, looting, and pillaging mercenaries with muskets, get down to recreating the United States of America — 150 years early, and on a different continent.
The novel is peopled with colorful individuals, and in particular women. My favorites are Jewish Rebecca, cosmopolitan and sophisticated enough to adapt quickly and become a TV celebrity; German Gretchen, a robust and fierce survivor of a hard life who nevertheless strikes a pragmatic romantic bargain and becomes the chooser of the living; and American Julie, the cheerleader who turns out to be a natural sniper.
But really, 1632 is the story of a community. It’s also a vision of a certain kind of America, built, maintained, and people by the non-elites, who here are given a chance to be heroic and big-hearted, singly as well as together. It’s a great story, and a fun read.
Interestingly, 1632 has some touch points with WITCHY EYE. For one thing, the Thirty Years War and its protagonists are part of WITCHY EYE’s background — Wallenstein, Richelieu, Adela Podebradas and others have significant roles in the backstory. Also, WITCHY EYE starts in Nashville, and two of its main characters are poor Appalachee… and one of them is the heir to two thrones. One of the ideas I had that drove the story from the beginning was that America was a place where anybody could be queen (or king).
I like to think the people of Grantville could applaud that idea.