In City in Amber, Atkinson has created a compelling story of Lawrence, Massachusetts, a planned industrial city built around the cloth and garment industry, moving from the city's construction and founding before the American Civil War to the sporadic conflagrations that plagued Lawrence in the 1990's. The writing in Atkinson s novel is so fine that even the downright evil characters manage to eke out a moment of sympathy from the reader not to mention the laughter and sadness his other characters evoke. And just as the amber metaphor in the title indicates, the reader is constantly pleased and surprised to pick up certain nearly mystical threads from generation to generation: Ah, that s what happened to those solid gold cufflinks! Ah, that's where that poor man's tooth wound up! City in Amber offers an amazing cast of characters and plots, just as it offers an entirely pleasurable and leisurely read.