Set in a logging town on the lawless Pacific coast of Washington State at the turn of the twentieth century, a spellbinding novel of fate and redemption--told with a muscular lyricism and filled with a cast of characters Shakespearean in scope--in which the lives of an ill-fated family are at the mercy of violent social and historical forces that tear them apart.Read more...
Set in a logging town on the lawless Pacific coast of Washington State at the turn of the twentieth century, a spellbinding novel of fate and redemption--told with a muscular lyricism and filled with a cast of characters Shakespearean in scope--in which the lives of an ill-fated family are at the mercy of violent social and historical forces that tear them apart.
Keen to make his fortune, Jacob Ellstrom, armed with his medical kit and new wife, Nell, lands in The Harbor--a mud-filled, raucous coastal town teeming with rough trade pioneers, sawmill laborers, sailors, and prostitutes. But Jacob is not a doctor, and a botched delivery exposes his ruse, driving him onto the streets in a plunge towards alcoholism. Alone, Nell scrambles to keep herself and their young son, Duncan, safe in this dangerous world. When a tentative reunion between the couple--in the company of Duncan and Jacob's malicious brother, Matius--results in tragedy, Jacob must flee town to elude being charged with murder.
Years later, the wild and reckless Duncan seems to be yet another of The Harbor's hoodlums. His only salvation is his overwhelming love for Teresa Boyerton, the daughter of the town's largest mill owner. But disaster will befall the lovers with heartbreaking consequences.
And across town, Bellhouse, a union boss and criminal rabble-rouser, sits at the helm of The Harbor's seedy underbelly, perpetuating a cycle of greed and violence. His thug Tartan directs his pack of thieves, pimps, and murderers, and conceals an incendiary secret involving Duncan's mother. As time passes, a string of calamitous events sends these characters hurtling towards each other in an epic collision that will shake the town to its core.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-09-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Hart's brilliant second novel (after Then Came the Evening) takes place in the rainy, filthy, raucous American Northwest during the lawless logging days of the late 19th century. Into Harbor, a muddy, mythological town somewhere on the coast of Washington state, sails a bogus doctor named Jacob Ellstrom, whose quackery gets him into big trouble. After a deadly botched childbirth, Ellstrom is forced to flee, leaving behind his wife, Nell, and young son, Duncan, who take up residence with the new doctor, Milo Haslett, just about the only civilized man in town. Jacob's malevolent brother, Matius, appears, claiming the Ellstrom homestead, and tragedy ensues when Jacob returns. Harbor is ruled by the outlaw union boss Bellhouse and his sidekick Tartan, whose violent means to every end leave no one outside their ruinous wake, especially Duncan, who grows up to be a hoodlum like every other man in town, except for his one saving grace: he is in love with the mill owner's daughter, Teresa. In alternating chapters each character advances the story from his own perspective as the unruly community rushes drunkenly, calamitously into the 20th century. Hart's prose is dense and lyrically savage. Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)