In prose that is darkly humorous and alive with detail, "Valiant Gentlemen" reimagines the lives and intimate friendships of humanitarian and Irish patriot Roger Casement; his closest friend, Herbert Ward; and Ward s extraordinary wife, the Argentinian-American heiress Sarita Sanford. Read more...
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In prose that is darkly humorous and alive with detail, "Valiant Gentlemen" reimagines the lives and intimate friendships of humanitarian and Irish patriot Roger Casement; his closest friend, Herbert Ward; and Ward s extraordinary wife, the Argentinian-American heiress Sarita Sanford. "Valiant Gentlemen" takes the reader on an intimate journey, from Ward and Casement s misadventurous youth in the Congowhere, among other things, they bore witness to an Irish whiskey heir s taste for cannibalismto Ward s marriage to Sarita and their flourishing family life in France, to Casement s covert homosexuality and enduring nomadic lifestyle floating between his work across the African continent and involvement in Irish politics. When World War I breaks out, Casement and Ward s longstanding political differences finally come to a head and when Ward and his teenage sons leave to fight on the frontlines for England, Casement begins to work alongside the Germans to help free Ireland from British rule. What results is tragic and riveting, as both men are forced to confront notions of love and betrayal in the face of the vastly different tracks their lives have taken.
Reminiscent of the work of Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje, "Valiant Gentlemen" is a uniquely human account of some of early 20th century s larger historical figures from a ravishing ("O Magazine") and brilliant ("The Boston Globe") voice in fiction today."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Brimming with exquisite detail and clever humor, PEN/Faulkner winner Murray’s wondrously written historical novel ferries a vivid cast of characters across continents and decades, from the sweltering jungles of 19th-century Africa to cosmopolitan Paris in the wake of World War I. Here the close-knit avatars of history are Roger Casement, an Irish revolutionary, and Herbert Ward, a former circus performer turned devoted husband and father. Early chapters follow the two friends into cannibalistic villages and Manhattan’s earliest gay bars, along the Continental Railroad and speaking tours of the West Coast, eventually to Ward’s marriage to Sarita Sanford, a headstrong Argentinian-American heiress. The cracks in the central friendship fissure at the advent of the Great War, with Ward fighting alongside his son for England, Casement lending his talents to the Germans, who promise to free Ireland from British control. As in Tales of the New World and The Caprices, the author maintains an impressive balance of historical accuracy and dramatic momentum, crafting a stellar fiction that shows how the grand course of history can be shaped by the smallest disagreements between friends. Agent: Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. (Nov.)