Free Books that Take Place in Ohio – Novels Set in Ohio PDF

Songs for the Missing

O’Nan, Stewart
Viking 2008       

The author’s “greatest literary talent lies with his characters. It’s as if he has lived each of the lives he creates, and nothing is too mundane nor too overblown… O’Nan has honed his ability to tap into the most basic components of small town life and ordinary people. His latest is both an intriguing page-turner and a sometimes agonizing look at human emotion in the face of inexplicable loss.” -Rocky Mountain News

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Silent Witness

Patterson, Richard North
Knopf 1997       

This novel “revolves around a friendship that begins on a high-school football field and is tested half a life-time later in a Lake City, Ohio, courtroom. Tony Lord, a noted California criminal lawyer, returns to the home of his youth to defend his oldest friend, Sam Robb, against the charge of murdering his 16-year-old mistress. Lord takes the sordid case in part because his own life was nearly shattered when, as a teenager, he was suspected of murdering his own girlfriend.” Publ Wkly.


Pollock, Donald Ray
Doubleday 2008       

Contents: Real life; Dynamite hole; Knockemstiff; Hair’s fate; Pills; Giganthomachy; Schott’s Bridge; Lard; Fish sticks; Bactine; Discipline; Assailants; Rainy Sunday; Holler; I start over; Blessed; Honolulu; The fights “Knockemstiff — real name, real town — is full of the sorriest group of people imaginable, a bunch of damaged souls with crass manners, greasy hair, sour breath, addictions galore and savage tendencies. Some can sense the possibilities of a better life, but their longing for escape just might lead them to do something crazy. Others are simply rotting away, trapped by self-defeating habits impossible to shake. Pollock underscores their struggles with vivid imagery and, at times, a tender touch. Pollock’s writing has been compared to that of Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver and Cormac McCarthy. He draws his readers in slowly, tangling them in the mundane toil of small-town life, before smacking them upside the head with something unexpected and primal. Small moments yield big surprises.” Oregonian

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Come Back to Sorrento

Powell, Dawn
Steerforth 1997       

Originally published in 1932 as The Tenth Moon. “Here Powell turns her attention to those certain rare souls who have the secret of finding their lives glamorous and themselves magnificent under the most humble conditions. Connie Benjamin, the village shoemaker’s wife, was raised in a wealthy household and had pretensions toward an operatic career. Blaine Decker, the new high school music teacher, is a homosexual in a closeted era who once spent time abroad studying piano. The two are drawn together into a powerful friendship of dependence, each sustaining the other in a conviction of superiority and translating the surface monotony of their lives into a drama richer than reality.” -Book cover

Dance Night – Books That Take Place in Ohio

Powell, Dawn
Steerforth 1999       

It is sometime prior to World War I in Lamptown, Ohio, a working-class town filled with factory girls. Young Nettie Farrell complains: “Every time a new man comes to town it’s like dividing a mouse up for a hundred cats.’ Every Thursday night at the Casino Dance Hall women and a few men gather to escape their pedestrian lives in fantasy, and sometimes to live out these fantasies. Observing all are the novel’s two young protagonists. Morry, who dreams of becoming an architect and developer. and Jen, an unsentimental orphan of fourteen who, abandoned by her mother, dreams of escape. – Book Cover.

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The Awakening Land: The Trees, The Fields, & The Town

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1966       

“The Awakening Land trilogy by Conrad Richter is a series of three novels that explore the lives of a white American frontier family in the Ohio Valley from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th. The series consists of The Trees (1940), The Fields (1946), and The Town (1950); the third novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951. These works established Richter as a major novelist of historical fiction.
The Trees (1940) introduces the Luckett family, who emigrate from Pennsylvania to the Ohio Valley wilderness about 1795, after the American Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States of America. Told mostly from the point of view of the eldest daughter, Sayward, the novel explores how the family carves a homestead from the forest, suffering losses and hardships along the way.
The Fields (1946) follows Sayward in her marriage to Portius Wheeler, a pioneer from the East. They raise a family of nine children together, although Portius also fathers a daughter, Rosa Tench, by another woman. The family and community continue to clear more trees in order to expand their area for farming and to make way for new dwellings. The Wheeler homestead becomes the nucleus of a settlement called Moonshine Church.
The Town (1950) continues the story of Sayward’s family. She witnesses the transformation of the settlement into a modern industrialized town called Americus. Her family moves into a refined, large house in town. Many of the chapters in The Town are told from the point of view of Sayward’s youngest son, Chancey, who becomes a journalist and represents the rising post-frontier town and city generation of the 19th century.” – Wikipedia entry “The Awakening Land” .

The Free Man

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1943       

Story of a young emigrant from the Palatinate who sought political freedom among the Pennsylvania-Dutch.

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The Light in the Forest

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1953       

Settlers and Indians in Pennsylvania and Ohio at the time of Bouquet’s expedition to free the captives of the Tuscarawas Indians in 1765.

A Country of Strangers

Richter, Conrad
Knopf 1966       

Sequel to “The Light in the Forest”, also on this page.

Paradise Falls

Robertson, Don
Putnam 1968       

Robust tale of business and social life and corruption in an Ohio town in the years following the Civil War.

Indignation – Books That Take Place in Ohio

Roth, Philip
Houghton Mifflin 2008       

“We are back in nineteen-fifties Newark, and nineteen-year-old Marcus Messner, the son of a kosher butcher, attempts to escape his father’s stifling influence by enrolling at a college in Ohio farm country. Messner is a scholarly type, while his new classmates are an unfriendly bunch of churchgoing, beer-swilling louts. Stubbornly disregarding overtures of friendship from members of the school’s only Jewish fraternity, Messner devotes his attentions to a troubled Gentile named Olivia Hutton. There’s something of Portnoy in the high jinks that follow, but Messner, fearful that he might ‘wind up a rifleman in Korea,’ is a far darker creation.” -New Yorker.

“… And Ladies of the Club” – Books That Take Place in Ohio

Santmyer, Helen Hooven
Ohio State University 1982       

“In 1868 in a small town in southwestern Ohio, a group of women form a literary club. Through the personal, political, and social upheavals of the next 64 years the club remains the one constant factor in the lives of these diverse women and their descendants.” Libr J

The Visiting Physician

Shreve, Susan Richards
Talese 1996       

“Twenty-odd years ago, Helen Fielding suffered severe trauma on a visit to her aunt in small-town Ohio when her toddler sister disappeared while in Helen’s care. Now a doctor, Helen returns to Meridian as an outbreak of legionella threatens the town’s children. One child is dead, another has disappeared, and so has the town doctor. Meridian itself has lost its collective innocence after being the subject of an unscrupulous TV director’s documentary on the perfect small town. A well- structured method of revealing the past adds to the story’s appeal.” Libr J.

A Simple Plan – Books That Take Place in Ohio

Smith, Scott
Knopf 1993       

“When Hank Mitchell, his obese, feckless brother Jacob and Jacob’s smarmy friend Lou accidentally find a wrecked small plane and its dead pilot in the woods near their small Ohio town, they decide not to tell the authorities about the $4.4 million stuffed into a duffel bag. Instead, they agree to hide the money and later divide it among themselves. The ‘simple plan’ sets in motion a spiral of blackmail, betrayal and multiple murder.” Publ Wkly
This novel is so “cunningly imagined that for the most part Mr. Smith drags us willingly through what in less deft hands could be a morally repugnant story.” N Y Times Book Rev

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The Unconquered: A Novel of the Pontiac Conspiracy

Swanson, Neil H.
Doubleday 1947       

Story of the Pontiac Conspiracy of 1763 in the Ohio River region of the Pennsylvania frontier.

Deadeye Dick – Books That Take Place in Ohio

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr.
Delacorte 1982       

“In Midland City, Ohio, the [WaItz] family is isolated and scorned by the community for patriarch Otto’s ersatz career as an artist and his strident support for Nazi policies. Their wealth and what’s left of their social position is decimated when younger son Rudy (Deadeye Dick) accidently shoots a pregnant woman. Father pleads guilty to the crime, Rudy becomes a night-shift pharmacist, author of the prize-winning but unsuccessful play ‘Katmandu’ and cook and maid for his useless mother. Brother Felix becomes the president of NBC, and mother dies of radiation emitted from the fireplace of their ‘shitbox’ home. The entire populace is eventually exterminated by the inadvertent dropping of a neutron bomb.” -SLJ

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Leafy Rivers

West, Jessamyn
Harcourt 1967       

Life on a mid-western homestead and in Cincinnati around 1818.

Owen Glen – Books That Take Place in Ohio

Williams, Ben Ames
Houghton Mifflin 1950       

“A historical novel about life in a small Ohio town in the 1890’s. Owen Glen, the central character, is a Welsh-born coal miner’s son. Owen’s life is described in detail up to the age of nineteen, when he himself had been working as a miner for five years.” -Book Rev Digest

The Raiders

Wilson, William E.
Rinehart 1955       

“A Civil War story set in Crescent City on the north shore of the Ohio River when it is taken over by the raiders – believed to be Morgan’s. Largely, it is the story of the town’s Mayor Clayburn as he sees the disaffection of the citizenry patterned within his own family – as two sons have opposite leanings and as different loyalties are worked out finally.” -Kirkus

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