Set 20 years after the Civil War which freed the slaves of the plantations around Florence, Alabama, those living there are still trying to sort out the relationships and rights of both white and black residents. The Store explores love and loss, trust and betrayal, and the vagaries of reputation and fortunes of the Vaiden family, both the whites and the blacks of that name. The store itself is a dream of Colonel Miltiades Vaiden which, once achieved, is rarely again mentioned and unimportant in the story.
Vaiden, a former Colonel in the Confederate Army, had his money stolen shortly after the end of the War by J. Handback when Vaiden's cotton was put in trust to Handback and then Handback was able to declare bankruptcy and deny the proceeds of the sale of the cotton to Vaiden. This created a resentment on Vaiden's part which festered for the many years since. Handback, believing the Colonel holds no resentments, hires him to work in the Handback store. Since the Colonel gives the same service to the blacks as to the whites of the community, this frustrates Handback. "A nigger pound is not the same measure as a white pound." He removes Vaiden, setting him up to oversee Handback's cotton plantings and his colored tennants thereby setting up the environment which allows Vaiden to get even with Handback. This allows the Colonel to buy his long-dreamed of store beginning a series of repercussions throughout the full community, affecting both whites and blacks, Southerners and Yankees. An intriguing read, with a bit of a ghost story included for good measure.
Until I read the other review, I was not aware the story was part of a trilogy.