Outskirts Press (2015)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/15)
Based upon the real life story of Thomas Plant, “The Shoemaker’s Castle” by Rick Shakalis tells Plant’s story in a fictional setting. Born into a poor family in Maine in the mid-1800s, Thomas Plant began working at 14 years of age. He dreamed of leaving his past behind and becoming a man of great wealth. Through hard work and perseverance, he was able to achieve this goal. Plant worked his way up in the shoemaking business until he was able to own his own company. Plant also excelled at baseball, proving he could accomplish whatever goals he set his mind to. Setbacks only deterred him to a certain point, and then he would find his way back.
After marrying his second wife and building a beautiful home called, “The Castle in the Clouds,” Plant appeared to be living the American dream. In order to achieve this success however, he had to step on some toes, including those of the unions. He also needed the acceptance of the people who were from old wealth, but this did not go over so well, and turned out to be the beginning of his downfall back into poverty. The higher-class men destroyed Plant’s wealth and ripped his beautiful home away from him. As all this was happening, Plant’s health began to fail. If he had more time, he probably would have regained it all.
I really enjoyed reading “The Shoemaker’s Castle” by Rick Shakalis, especially because it was based on someone who really existed. I looked up information about Thomas Plant on the internet, and got to see real pictures of his beautiful Castle in the Clouds. The author did an excellent job of creating a story around this man’s life. He made me feel like I was actually inside the head of Thomas Plant and I was able to follow along with his successes and failures. I highly recommend this novel to people who enjoy reading historical novels whether they be fiction or non-fiction.