A rich novel of family rivalries, corporate maneuvers, and sexual intrigue--set in a small Wisconsin beer town.
In the background: a small, family-run brewery, Gutenbier, whose backward business practices have been miraculously transformed into an asset by the new vogue for microbreweries and designer beverages.
At the center: two women whose world is the brewery: Melissa Johnson, is the heiress to Gutenbier, and Alice Reinhart works there. On her father's death, Melissa inherits the chairmanship everyone expected to go to her brother and finds herself resented by both workers and management. Alice, returning from New York and a bad marriage, takes up her job in the brewery only to discover that an indiscretion she committed at seventeen has surfaced and has made her the object of a series of seemingly innocent pranks that slowly reveal a darker intent. As these two women fight the forces arrayed against them and the novel moves toward its climax, the business, the politics--the life--of a small town are compellingly portrayed.
"Akins' work has been called 'a kind of extended meditation on the dialectic of stripping and covering up. . .' That is an apt description of her latest offering. . . . One wouldn't want to have missed the journey of this novel that, with all its contradictions and complexities, reflects a burgeoning talent well on its way to full power."
--Gail Cooke, Fort Worth Star Telegram
"If 'Hometown Brew' were a beer, it would be dark, dense and malty--the kind to sip and savor the complex flavors. Bottled, not canned. And definitely not light. Ellen Akins has written an ambitious novel, about many things--the duality of sibling love and rivalry, corporate power games and sexual politics. In examining the ways that people use each other, the author also offers a redemptive vision of humanity. . . Tense and taut, 'Hometown Brew' never loses momentum. From the outset, the reader senses something sinister about Frank, as Alice and Melissa are sucked into a disastrous course of events. It's nerve-wracking--like watching a Hitchcock film, knowing who the bad guy is. There are surprising plot turns along the way, as well as astute observations about the implications of using sex to sell everything from cars to beer to hamburgers."
--Colleen Kelly Warren, St. Louis Post-Dispatch