Peter C. Brown The Fugitive Wife: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780393329759

The Fugitive Wife: A Novel

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9780393329759: The Fugitive Wife: A Novel

“All about passion, whether for . . . romance or adventure, this sweeping debut renders poetically the dynamics of desire.”―Kirkus Reviews

The year is 1900 in gold-prospecting Alaska. Essie, a Midwestern farm girl fleeing from a stormy marriage, joins up with prospectors bound for Nome, where the golden sands teem with dreamers, schemers, and high rollers. When Leonard, Essie's stubborn and volatile husband, travels north, astonishing scenes of pursuit, sacrifice, and crucial decision rise to a conclusion that is both surprising and inevitable. Powerfully evoking a past world and the variable territory of the heart, this novel establishes Peter C. Brown as a consummate storyteller. Reading group guide included.

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About the Author:

Peter C. Brown’s grandfather was a prospector, the engineer for a gold-mining company in Nome, Alaska. Brown is a retired business consultant, and he and his wife live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

From The Washington Post:

Set in 1900 in the Alaskan gold-prospecting town of Nome and its environs, with flashbacks to the Midwestern prairies, The Fugitive Wife is a novel dominated by landscapes. Even the clipped, laconic narrative is shaped by the unforgiving land it describes, as it mirrors the many voices of those engaged in early industrial enterprise in Alaska. This is a proto-capitalist world founded on stories, lucky chances, intrigue, exploration and, above all, the frantic making and losing of capital. Peter C. Brown's sure and often lyrical evocation of the wild Alaskan coast speaks not only of knowledge but also of love. His descriptions of both setting and human activity are historically convincing and at the same time integrated into a fast-paced narrative. Whether it be the bird life of the Alaskan tundra or the workings of an early 20th-century hydraulic dredge, we have here in The Fugitive Wife an author who truly knows this world. Esther, the fugitive wife, is a young woman of astonishing resiliency, who combines her success at petty capitalism -- ironic because she's the only one who isn't trying to make money -- with the capacity to charm friends, captivate men and delight the reader. She is in every way admirable -- perhaps just a shade too admirable at times -- and she fully deserves the love of Nate, an educated East Coaster whose engineering abilities are stymied by his political naiveté in the midst of this corrupt backwater of capitalism. Esther is also pursued -- literally -- by her less than satisfactory husband, Leonard. Two long flashbacks take us back to the prairie world where Leonard first erupted into Esther's life. Enslaved by drink, he brings into the thankless Eden of a Midwestern farm a large and repellent serpent whose part in the action is suitably horrifying but perhaps a little overly symbolic. Esther has every reason for her bold departure to Alaska, but the past is not to be so easily abandoned. Around these three central characters we have a wide canvas with more or less grotesque or flamboyant figures who contribute to the overall picture of a robust community in flux, driven by dreams of gold. Lena, who makes friends with Esther on the long train journey west, is a black woman who uses her education to get a clerical job in the boom town of Nome. Disappointingly, she fades out of the narrative, except insofar as her office provides a frequent refuge for Esther, who runs the stables and sets up a mail delivery service. Esther's relationships with her husband, Leonard, and with the idealistic Nate are both shaped by the lands where they happen. At the very moment Esther recognizes she is starting to love Nate, he is positioned as a solitary figure in a vast and unrelenting wilderness: "The brow of the hill disappeared above him. He looked out over a rime of surf that whitened the coastline all the way to Nome and beyond and felt the splendid isolation, far above the ocean's roar, a world of rock and sky. Wheeling birds. Their cries, and the acrid stench." Nate and Esther's lives in Alaska alternate between moments of mutual solitude, balanced precariously at the edge of an awe-inspiring, uninhabitable wilderness, and times of hectic engagement with the world of jumped claims, bust companies and fraudulent dealing. The rapid escalation of events here is irresistible. Readerly suspense is divided between the hope that all will be well for Esther and an equal but perhaps contrary longing that the author will not lose the delicate balance between tough realism and comforting sentiment. The conclusion of an engagingly complicated love story in a historical setting calls for some ingenuity, but Brown manages it with a little sleight of hand, a dawning realization in Esther's mind of what she must do to resolve her fugitive status. Margaret Elphinstone, who teaches at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, is the author, most recently, of "Voyageurs."

Reviewed by Margaret Elphinstone
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. The year is 1900 in gold-prospecting Alaska. Essie, a Midwestern farm girl fleeing from a stormy marriage, joins up with prospectors bound for Nome, where the golden sands teem with dreamers, schemers, and high rollers. When Leonard, Essie s stubborn and volatile husband, travels north, astonishing scenes of pursuit, sacrifice, and crucial decision rise to a conclusion that is both surprising and inevitable. Powerfully evoking a past world and the variable territory of the heart, this novel establishes Peter C. Brown as a consummate storyteller. Reading group guide included. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780393329759

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.The year is 1900 in gold-prospecting Alaska. Essie, a Midwestern farm girl fleeing from a stormy marriage, joins up with prospectors bound for Nome, where the golden sands teem with dreamers, schemers, and high rollers. When Leonard, Essie s stubborn and volatile husband, travels north, astonishing scenes of pursuit, sacrifice, and crucial decision rise to a conclusion that is both surprising and inevitable. Powerfully evoking a past world and the variable territory of the heart, this novel establishes Peter C. Brown as a consummate storyteller. Reading group guide included. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780393329759

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Book Description W. W. Norton & Company. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 432 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.5in. x 1.1in.All about passion, whether for . . . romance or adventure, this sweeping debut renders poetically the dynamics of desire. Kirkus Reviews The year is 1900 in gold-prospecting Alaska. Essie, a Midwestern farm girl fleeing from a stormy marriage, joins up with prospectors bound for Nome, where the golden sands teem with dreamers, schemers, and high rollers. When Leonard, Essies stubborn and volatile husband, travels north, astonishing scenes of pursuit, sacrifice, and crucial decision rise to a conclusion that is both surprising and inevitable. Powerfully evoking a past world and the variable territory of the heart, this novel establishes Peter C. Brown as a consummate storyteller. Reading group guide included. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780393329759

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