It’s largely set in 1930’s Mississippi, though the story-line does jump around quite a lot, both in time and space. There are two main threads, though one is really major and the other minor. The major thread concerns Joe Christmas, an orphan who ends up on the wrong side of the tracks. The other concerns a young woman, Lena Grove, whose boyfriend ran out on her when she got pregnant. She is tracking him down, and her path takes her to the same town as Christmas.
It’s not a light, nor quick, read, but as long as you’re paying attention it does all make sense, which was a bit of a relief. I had to re-read the penultimate chapter, as I obviously hadn’t been paying close enough attention, and got a bit confused towards the end of it.
I really liked this. There aren’t really any characters you can empathise with, which often makes it hard for me to engage with a book, but that wasn’t true here. The writing is lyrical, rich, and often very dense. I found myself drawn into the story, though not in the compulsive way that some books make you want to read just one more chapter. It felt like grown-up fiction / literature, written by a true craftsman with words.
Not for everyone, but I’m encouraged to read more of Faulkner.