Tuesday, November 12, 2013

`Thou Torturest Me by R. M. Doyon Centers on Neighboring Amish Mixing With English in Deadly Ways!

"...His mind now wandered back to the brief encounter he had had with Hannah that afternoon. Why he had detoured past her farm today, he didn't know. What purpose did he had in mind? She had smiled nicely in his direction, and had welcomed his arrival, even as they both knew they were breaking church rules. Six days of the week were for family and work; only on the seventh could such activities take place. But his mind was beset with doubt. He didn't know what he wanted to do, though he was well aware that his duty was to choose a mate, to buy his own farm and...to breed...
"At night, by candlelight, he read books on design and construction that he borrowed secretly from the library in town. He could do better, he thought...
"Beyond the inferno and near the rocky point, a long, narrow dock held together by rusted iron stanchions extended into the lake. A pontoon boat, complete with a Bimini-styled top and laden down with at least another ten young people, was cruising towards the wharf. One of them jumped from the boat and was now fastening it to the dock. He recognized her; she was the girl in the back seat of that convertible earlier today...
"No pictures!" he hissed, his eyes darting between those of the young Cahill man and the guilty parties. "You're scaring my horses!" 
"Brad sensing the urgency of the situation, quickly took charge. He knew how the Amish had resisted any form of photography.
"Guys, put your goddamned cells away! he barked, his facial expression slowly transforming into a grin. "Or Troyer here will turn this friggin' wagon around we'll be shit out of luck for firewood by nine o'clock. 

Thou Torturest Me
By R. M. Doyon

Three fascinating words from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice certainly was used to bring a captivating and compelling story to life for R. M. Doyon. He's wonderfully used a phrase, putting it in an entirely new and different setting and yet, making it the perfect title for this gripping yet heartbreaking story. Certainly I never expected what happened, yet I had tried to attach the phrase to each of the characters as they were introduced. In the end readers may conclude, as I did, that the writer has somehow conveyed that all  of us have at one time or another murmured, "You torture me." Maybe not in those words, but we all face so much in daily life that we don't understand--for which we seek some explanation, some promise it will become better... Doyon does not even name the individual who was attacked in his provocative Prologue. Readers watch as a young couple are making love on a hillside, watched by someone who has followed one of them. Once the boy has left, the girl is attacked and she is hit many times and pushed over the cliff... Then, Doyon ends it in such an eloquent way, so joyfully and we all know what has and will happen but he leaves it to our own minds to create--to end the torture... Brilliant!

"Overhead, a murder of crows--numbering more
that twenty--sat menacingly in the towering oaks,
squawking loudly with impatience as the wagon
approached their dinner, the remains of a blood-
spattered raccoon not far ahead. Moments later,
four large barking dogs greeted their arrival,
snarling and teasing his team. Be careful hounds,
he thought, Temper's in a foul mood and if allowed
his freedom you will be sorry. After nipping at the
horses' heels for a few yards, they wisely retreated.
Often, when he was alone, or when he toiled in the
fields as he had done today, he sometimes wondered
what another life would be like. Maybe go to college.
Learn architecture. Or maybe just venture further
east, towards the Adirondacks, especially as a
passenger--or better still, as the driver--of one of
those fancy, furious automobiles. But it was just
a dream. It wouldn't come true...
When a writer chooses to establish a family in which stories will be shared, it is a setting that is so enticing! Readers quickly feel as if they are visiting the family, enjoying daily life experiences--both good and bad... While Thou Torturest Me is a sequel to Upcountry, it certainly stands alone, but there are overlaps in some of the people, so here's the link to my review of the first book to help a little and maybe get you interested enough to get that first book to read as well. In fact, it's hard not to spend time talking about the family connections you'll find, but of course, that's not possible in this short article...

Especially, when many of the major characters are from a totally different family--their Amish neighbors!

Joshua Troyer is the main character who we meet as a neighbor of Hubie Schumacher. Josh had not only done work for Hubie, now near his 70s but had saved his life when he was thrown from his tractor, only to have it land on him. The young strong man who had daily worked the farm fields easily picked the tractor up sufficient to get him out!

Joshua had never taken time away from home and the farm work at the time usually granted to Amish young people. Never having rumspringa, Joshua was now at the age when he was expected to marry and start his own family. I wondered whether what happened would have had he gone out into the world and met more English teens. Now it seemed too late and yet he was inadvertently pulled into meeting...one special English girl...

He had noticed her when a car had stopped and Brad, her brother, had requested a load of wood be delivered for making bonfires. He had already been in a foul mood since Temper, his horse, was showing...his temper...

"Now edging closer to Temper, Joshua realized his active brain and sleepless nights had exacted a price. He had to corral this cagey-taunting animal--and now. Temper needed to know who was in charge. He reached down behind the buckboard's seat for a makeshift lasso that he had always kept aboard his wagon. Now was the time to bring this horse to justice.
"Slowly, he approached the colossal beast as it grazed quietly on the high grasses beside the paved road. Over the course of his five or six minutes of stolen freedom, a couple of cars had ventured by, moderating their speeds only slightly at the sight of the Belgian on the loose. Joshua surveyed the situation and decided he had one chance of roping Temper and returning him to the wagon. Better make it good, he thought.
"As Temper raised his head, Joshua pounced. Expertly, he threw the lasso around the Belgian's head, and pulled tightly on the rope. He worried that the big horse would revolt and pull him down the road or, worse, attempt a foray into the nearby thicket. He was in luck. Temper seemed to realize the jig was up and succumbed to the young farmer's orders to stay put.


Temper, however, had heard the vehicle and started to act up again, pulling violently. Joshua was forced to hit him to get his attention and the Cahills had reacted to the violence. He knew that the English confused discipline with cruelty. Still, he was sorry that others had witnessed the exchange.
Finally, he was able to finish the conversation and agree to bring wood to their cabin site...

And that's when it all started...Because before the night was over, Ria, the girl in the car, had come over to talk to Temper and Joshua and invited Joshua over to the campfire, where they introduced Josh to beer and they had drank and talked all evening...

It was during a different party that Joshua had sneaked out on Temper and had watched nearby until he saw Ria alone, where he invited her to take a walk...and more had happened...

When Ria was found, it quickly became a police issue and it was during services hosted at the Troyer farm, that Sheriff Boychuk had come to visit Josh. He had already seen him with Ria the first time, knowing he was drinking that night. But the questioning was now being seen by the entire Amish Community!

At the same time, Ria's brother Brad and her friend were convinced that it was Joshua who had hurt Ria... Soon vandalism started at the Troyer Farm! Hay fields that they had been working on and which were almost completed for the year were set on fire!

Then, amazingly, just as many novels share actions directly from today's headlines, Joshua's father was attacked in their barn one night and his hair and beard cut...!

Ringleader in Amish hair- and beard-cutting attacks sentenced to 15 years in prison

Samuel Mullet Sr. faces 15 years behind bars for planning attacks against fellow Amish who denounced his authoritarian leadership. The 16 other Amish men and women who were convicted last year were handed sentences ranging from one to seven years. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ohio-amish-cut-beards-foes-face-sentencing-article-1.1258799#ixzz2kT6mVfHp

What was interesting from the standpoint of the police trying to determine who was doing all of these things, was that many different people were involved. My intuition had pinpointed who had pushed Ria, but there was surprise after surprise as the Sheriff's office took each incident and followed the evidence.

I had not seen the newspaper announcement above; however, the author had told me there was quite a difference in the lives of today's Amish. One thing we do know is that, no matter what religion, there will always be those who proclaim that religion but who really have evil in their hearts... I'm hoping that in continuing this series, that we will have additional information about what took place "after" this novel ends... 

The English families that were involved as Joshua crossed the boundary lines were, thankfully, much more receptive to what had happened. And as they got together once more before heading their separate ways, it was good to spend time catching up on what had occurred after Upcountry ended, including, a house burning! You see, only that could eliminate what had been torturing one of the other characters from her past... 

"He began to strum his Gibson. Now, is it time for some music?" 
To a chorus of approvals from the family, Booker launched a few bars of a familiar ballad. Something about being 'caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender.' Abruptly his fingers stopped.
"As Jackson Browne would say, I'm just a 'happy idiot'."
"Happy, yes, Booker," Joanne corrected. "Idiot, no."
"Remember this?" he asked. "This was the song that Jane bought for a quarter on the jukebox in the bar that night. Never forgot it. She said, 'C'mon Mellancamp...let's dance!'
"Joanne beamed at the memory. 
"So, take a listen," he said, launching into the ballad from the beginning."

Insightful, timely and relevant to today, and complicated enough to be "real people"...LOL! I thoroughly enjoyed this one, I think, maybe just a little more than his first! Highly recommended...


R. M. Doyon has been a journalist, speechwriter, public relations executive and author for more than three decades. His first novel, Upcountry, was published to rave reviews in October, 2010. He and his wife, Shelley, split their time between the shores of the St. Lawrence River and the California desert.

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