The Gospel of Silk - Stephen Lee
This is one of those books that I bought from reading the Amazon blurb and looking at the cover design. I thought to myself: This book is talking to me. Take it. Of course I did. 

The more I got into the story of Howard Godwin, the more enchanted I became. Memories of a young boy meeting a charismatic William J. Payne in his hometown, Rosewick, got me in the end so mesmerized, I could feel my heart jumping with joy when a little bit of time became available and I could open the book to continue reading. 

Payne’s presence created an element of suspense and excitement in the humdrum life of the town, but would also change the history of this community forever.
Excitement...I cannot find the right words right now. But it is there and I am smiling, shaking my head and reveling in the innocent observations of a young-man-in-the-making, about his town, his friends, his absentee father (although he suspects he was kidnapped anyway) , the racial discrimination against one of his best friends, Woodrow W. Wade - alias Scooter, and the many other people playing a role in cementing his personality through the events that played itself out around the establishment of a silkworm industry in their town. 

Payne persuaded them that this poor region, no less than the exotic realms of the Orient and Europe was eminently suited to the production of this luxurious fabric, that no more was required than honest, diligent industry of the populace to make it blossom into a booming region of ordered mulberry orchards, bustling silkworm works, fine homes and genteel cultured people.

Payne would turn everything mundane or momentous into something magical. He just had with it took to turn the little town Rosewick into a place to remember for life. He was educated, sophisticated, and so refined.

Grave yards; old spooky homes; a magician who convinced the Pinewood school girls - who 'flocked to him like pigs to slop, that he was dead and buried for three days and crawled out of his grave; sixteen-year-old Amelia Hendershot who drove trucks and smoked cigarettes - all of it in the year 1926, got me losing sleep to read just a little bit more before reality knocked before daybreak again.

Somewhere, while being lost in this engrossing tale, I was thinking about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and Huckleberry Finn, and innocent little boys becoming proud men with a wealth of memories to share. One of the people who would influence Howard's approach to life was his grandfather, who was just a teeny bit more cagier old bird than a lot of people.

I wondered where I could add words such as “prestidigitation,” and "mellifuously" in my review. The book constantly had me seeking wisdom in the dictionary. What a rich thrill!

“All of life is magic,” Payne said. “Think of it -- our birth, our life, our death, the power of herbs to heal, the feeding of our bodies, the movement of the blood through our veins. “That we know a little of the mechanics does not remove the magic. That there are explanations does not make it less a mystery in the end. We understand so little, and we make our beliefs so small.”

Mysteries are what make life interesting. It could not have become truer when a murder took place in the graveyard of Rosewick. The events afterwards would rob three young boys of their innocence forever. 

How sad it will be if this book slips through the grid and get lost to an audience it so richly deserve. I cannot stress enough how overwhelmed I was by the richness of the story, the colorful descriptions of the villagers' lives, the meticulous detail of the surroundings, and the completeness of the tale. It is one of those rare treasures you only find a few times in your life.

I recommend it to anyone who believes that real life hides its own mysteries and magic. Besides, it is based on a true story.

This spur-of-the-moment buy was a brilliant decision!