The Heart in Winter

Doubleday. Jul. 2024. 256p. ISBN 9780385550598. $28. F
Award-winning Barry’s (City of Bohane) newest, a genre-blending novel with romance and adventure to spare, is set in 1890s Montana, where Tom Rourke, a feckless young Irishman, earns a sketchy living working as a photographer’s assistant, selling dope, and writing letters of proposal to prospective brides on behalf of illiterate miners. One such bride is Polly Gillespie from Chicago, who has passed herself off as younger and fresher than she really is in the hopes of a brighter future in Butte. The reality is much less promising when she finds that she has married a self-flagellating religious man. When the new couple arrive at Tom’s photography studio for their wedding portrait, there is an immediate attraction between Tom and Polly. In short order, they light out for parts west with a stolen horse and money pilfered from Tom’s landlady. But with their poor sense of direction, harsh winter weather and a bounty on their heads, elopers’ future does not look auspicious.
VERDICT Barry writes like a charm; every sentence sparkles.
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