An affecting story about one man’s quest to transcend his troubled past.

From This Valley

A young soldier, shortly after the Civil War, abandons his regiment to explore the northern Canadian territory and its dangerous prairie lands in this debut historical novel.

Ryan Price Meade has an illicit romance with Priscilla, the daughter of his family’s black butler. After Ryan’s father discovers the situation, he immediately banishes him from the homestead, and he’s sent to serve in the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry Regiment under the command of a distant relation. Following the Civil War, he’s reassigned to a unit under the command of George Armstrong Custer, an idol of his for years. But Custer turns out to be a brutal warrior, and Ryan is horrified when the man orders the massacre of a Native American tribe, including women and children, at the Battle of Washita River. Disillusioned and tortured by his memory of the battle, Ryan flees his post and sets out for Canada. He stumbles upon a sergeant from the North West Mounted Police who’s traveling with a half-Native American, and they help him prepare for a perilous journey through near-lawless lands occupied by hostile warriors, bandits, and unscrupulous traders. Then Ryan receives a tragic epistle from his former butler. Overwhelmed by grief, he rejects the possibility of returning home to join the family business and sets out on his own in search of solitude, more than anything else. Along the way, he meets a young Cheyenne girl he saved during the Washita massacre. The two fall in love, travel to her mother’s clan, and make a new life. Later, Ryan wrestles with a lifetime of demons but remains open to the possibility of new love, peace, and redemption. Author Harvey warns readers in a preface that he plays fast and loose with historical fact. That said, he does a marvelous job of evoking the spirit of the period, particularly in his depictions of the complex relations between whites, blacks, and Native Americans. Over the course of the story, Ryan suffers from Job-like losses, and the sources of his profound discontent sometimes seem too extraordinary and sudden to be believable. His internal tumult, though, set against the volatility of an evolving and unsettled world, is painted with powerful and vivid brush strokes throughout.

An affecting story about one man’s quest to transcend his troubled past.

Pub Date: April 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-8098-0

Page Count: 312

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...


 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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