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Overview -

Josh Ritter’s first novel is a wondrous, suspenseful, and uniquely affecting story of the journey taken by a father and his infant son.

Henry Bright is newly returned to West Virginia from the battlefields of the First World War. Grief struck by the death of his young wife and unsure of how to care for the infant son she left behind, Bright is soon confronted by the destruction of the only home he’s ever known.  Read more...


 

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Overview

Josh Ritter’s first novel is a wondrous, suspenseful, and uniquely affecting story of the journey taken by a father and his infant son.

Henry Bright is newly returned to West Virginia from the battlefields of the First World War. Grief struck by the death of his young wife and unsure of how to care for the infant son she left behind, Bright is soon confronted by the destruction of the only home he’s ever known. His only hope for safety is the angel who has followed him to Appalachia from the trenches of France and who now promises to protect him and his son.

Together, Bright and his newborn, along with a cantankerous goat and the angel guiding them, make their way through a landscape ravaged by forest fire toward an uncertain salvation, haunted by the abiding nightmare of his experiences in the war and shadowed by his dead wife’s father, the Colonel, and his two brutal sons.

At times harrowing, at times funny, and always possessed by the sheer gorgeousness and unique imagination that have made Josh Ritter’s songs beloved to so many, this is the debut of a virtuoso fiction writer.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781400069507
  • ISBN-10: 1400069505


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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-04-11
  • Reviewer: Staff

War is hell, and so is Henry Bright's homecoming from the trenches of WWI in songwriter Ritter's appropriately lyrical debut. Bright is a half-shattered veteran whose ordeal in combat continues with the death of his young wife in childbirth. Spurred on by an angel who speaks to him through his livestock, Henry torches the cabin where his wife died, using the family Bible to spark the blaze. Soon, the angel tells Henry his infant son is the Future King of Heaven, a replacement for the one "who has soaked the world in blood." Henry's desolation is believably crushing, sometimes darkly funny, and rendered with a lyricist's delicacy: against the backdrop of the forest fire sparked by the cabin's blaze, Henry, the child, horse, and a goat make their way to town, dodging his wife's psychotic family, who blame him for her death. "The sky was too dark for afternoon, and where the sun should have hung there was now only an undulating black curtain of heat, which pulsed through the windowpanes upon his face like the throb of an open furnace." As the fire threatens Bright's friends and enemies, Ritter evokes war, violence and the fearful and numb responses to trauma, squaring them up in a hopeful, humble revelation. (July)

 
BookPage Reviews

Speaking with the angels

Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter has built a following on the strength of his literary song lyrics, which tackle such subjects as the parallels between science and relationships, the difficulties of love in an apocalyptic age and the beauty of relying on people close to you. With his debut novel, Bright’s Passage, Ritter shows that his range extends well beyond the three-minute pop song. He takes full advantage of the near-limitless bounds of the novel in this post-World War I tale, drawing contrast between a stark landscape filled with people in war scenes and a lush countryside and the lonely man who roams it after the war. 

After veteran Henry Bright delivers his son and watches his wife die in childbirth, he begins a journey across the Appalachian terrain of West Virginia. An angel who followed Henry home from war and now speaks through his horse instructs him to burn his house and leave before his neighbor can follow his tracks.

The reader gains insight into Henry’s life as chapters cut between his past in West Virginia, the war and his race from the neighbor and the burning house, which instigates a wildfire. It quickly becomes evident that Henry isn’t only recovering from seeing friends die in the Great War; he’s also facing family battles and an internal struggle. Ritter allows readers to draw their own conclusions about Henry’s heavenly interaction, and this psychologically engaging tale will keep readers thinking for days after they close the book.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

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