Spanning three generations of a Midwestern family, Abbeville is the story of the true fundamentals of life: friendship and family as source of stability against the changing circumstances of life. George Bailey comes to Abbeville after the dot-com crash leaves him reeling both financially and emotionally, searching for something to help him cope and regain a sense of direction. Returning to the house of his grandfather, he explores his family's past in search for clues and direction. How does man deal with adversity, and what is its meaning? This is the question that Abbeville brilliantly explores.
George Bailey comes from a long line of businessmen. Karl's story starts with his journey from Abbeville to North Woods, where he works for his uncle's logging operation, then continues on to turn-of-the-century cosmopolitan Chicago, where he trades futures under his uncle's tutelage in the Mercantile Exchange pits. Besides business advice, his uncle also tries to dispense the lesson of not mixing business with personal feelings when Karl and the uncle's secretary become too familiar. When it comes, this lesson seems too harsh to bear, and young Karl lets it pass him by. But this is a lesson Karl would have done well to remember; many years later, it is this mixing of business and personal feelings that lands Karl in jail.
When his secret love comes to Chicago, Karl can't resist a meeting which leads to the two getting married. And so emerges a lifelong grudge nurtured by a lesser man.
Back in Abbeville, Karl prospers thanks to the business knowledge gained from his uncle in Chicago. Again, he follows his uncle's advice: become big in a small place. He builds a grain elevator, a bank, installs a telegraph line, even brings electricity to the tiny
central Illinois town. He seems to be the master of his domain, but he lacks one thingóchildren. His huge house sits empty, as if mocking his powers. Thinking that he is cursed, he sets out for Europe at age 40 in hopes that heroism will lift it. In war-torn France, while trying to give the dead in his care a proper burial, he meets a Catholic priest from whom he learns that adversity in life is not the outcome of a test but the test itself. When Karl returns, he fathers children and all seems well. But the economic storms of the Great Depression are on the horizon, and they will pose Karl's most sore test.
George's test is to remain a father and husband and keep his family together. This isn't easy, for his son seems to be spinning out of control, the sudden collapse of the family's economic fortunes adding fuel to that fire. Like his grandfather
did for him many years age, George decides to take his son fishing in the same river. Through this experience, they are both changed.
Abbeville is a meditation on what we have lost as a culture in the last decades.
The true fundamentals of life have eroded, to be replaced by selfishness and greed.
It is precisely that absence of those quaint, old-fashioned values and the predominance of greed-is-good thinking that has been responsible for the economic meltdown.