"This second engaging novel from Weisgarber . Read more...
"This second engaging novel from Weisgarber . . . has shades of Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis, and Conrad Richter."-- Publishers Weekly, starred review
1900. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. In desperation she agrees to marry him, but when Catherine travels to Oscar's farm on Galveston Island, Texas--a thousand miles from home--she finds she is little prepared for the life that awaits her. The island is remote, the weather sweltering, and Oscar's little boy Andre is grieving hard for his lost mother. And though Oscar tries to please his new wife, the secrets of the past sit uncomfortably between them. Meanwhile for Nan Ogden, Oscar's housekeeper, Catherine's sudden arrival has come as a great shock. For not only did she promise Oscar's first wife that she would be the one to take care of little Andre, but she has feelings for Oscar which she is struggling to suppress. And when the worst storm in a generation descends, the women will find themselves tested as never before.
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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-01-20
- Reviewer: Staff
This second engaging novel from Weisgarber (The Personal History of Rachel DuPree) might have been written a century ago. Set in 1900, the story follows a young bride named Catherine Wainwright, who faces an array of challenges after impulsively leaving her Dayton, Ohio home and heading west to wed. The story has shades of Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis, and Conrad Richter, and the prose has a streak of formality that gives the book a period flavor, but Catherine’s first-person narration (and later that of Nan Ogden, the housekeeper at Catherine’s new home) is also appealingly immediate. Catherine received acclaim and gained a bit of regional celebrity as a pianist in Dayton. But a casual friendship with a married man causes provincial tongues to wag, and the gossip leads to canceled concerts and lost teaching opportunities. When Oscar Williams, a childhood friend and prosperous rancher in Texas who has recently become a widower, sends Catherine a marriage proposal, she immediately accepts. It’s a wonderful setup for solid storytelling: the city girl learns to do all the hard work of a farm wife and, in the process, gets to know her instant husband and his son, Andre. At first, Catherine and Oscar are less than completely honest with each other, and as truths are revealed, the plot thickens. Warm and winning. (Apr.)