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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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