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Heartbroke Bay [Kindle Edition]

Lynn D'urso
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $4.01 (27%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Historical Fiction
An epic historical military adventure, Constantinopolis plots out the future of civilization as shaped by a number of fascinating characters. Learn more

Book Description

A powerful literary debut inspired by a true story.

In 1898, Alaska is an untamed wilderness with an unforgiving climate. At the tail end of a world-wide depression, thousands of destitute people are drawn north by rumors of easy wealth coming out of the remote claims of the Gold Rush. Many of the pilgrims are unprepared for the hardships that await them and find nothing but a desolate landscape already pillaged of its riches by those who came before.

Hannah Nelson, a beautiful young Englishwoman, is one of the late arrivals. After following her husband to a glacier-wracked fjord in the company of three equally desperate men, she discovers that gold is only one of the desires that can consume a person's soul...

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The pseudonymous D'Urso's bleak and promising debut is based on a true incident first covered by Jack London in 1906. August 1898 finds 23-year old Hannah Butler accompanying her stuffy British employer on holiday in the American West. Bored stiff, Hannah soon elopes with Hans Nelson, and the two head to Alaska in search of quick riches. En route, they partner with ex-Confederate soldier Harky, eccentric prospector/guide Dutch, and boat captain Michael Severts. They all end up in remote Lituya Bay, in southeast Alaska, where they establish a camp and catch a gold fever that runs nearly as hot as Hannah's clandestine lust for Michael. But misfortune hits: Michael loses his boat to an iceberg, and as the bitter Alaskan winter bears down, the group's dire circumstances worsen, culminating in a bloody rampage. The prospectors' amazing tale of survival proves to be an unsettling portrait of human greed, deceit, and betrayal, ably captured by D'Urso's lean, direct prose. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Twenty-three-year-old Victorian Englishwoman Hannah Butler is thoroughly bored and also feels trapped working as a maid for Lady Hamilton. Hannah must work for four years to pay off the debts incurred by her father. So when gold prospector Hans Nelson offers her a way out, she jumps at the chance to become his wife and soon finds herself in Alaska. However, the couple is unprepared for the deprivations of the densely crowded gold-rush town and find themselves setting sail for a distant fjord populated by Tlingit Indians led by the wise man Negook. They are accompanied by a hulking Civil War vet who is deeply traumatized by what he has seen and done during the war, a charming Irishman who possesses superior sailing skills, and a Dutchman who claims that Lituya Bay will yield enough gold to make them all rich. And they do indeed find gold, but they also find themselves overmatched by the harsh weather, the unforgiving landscape, and the treachery of their own hearts. First-novelist D’Urso will keep her readers enthralled with this adventurous story relayed in crisp, cinematic prose. --Joanne Wilkinson

Product Details

  • File Size: 449 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0425236803
  • Publisher: Berkley; Original edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00452V3QO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,258 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction November 22, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read James Michener's "Alaska" prior to moving to Alaska in 1989. Heartbroke Bay is every good as "Alaska." D'Urso allows us to see into history, and get a glimpse of how that history was lived, understood, and survived by hearty and complicated people, living in chaotic times, under harsh conditions. D'Urso's talent allows the reader to identify with the characters and wonder to ourselves, if we would have been tough enough to withstand the trials and tribulations of life on the last frontier.

To this day, Alaska attracts those with an appetite for freedom, a hope for riches, and a stomach for personal misery and pain. Even those this story was lived over 100 years ago, not much has changed, in Lituya Bay. There is a still a beautiful, wild, and abundant place on the planet, where, without the right skills, temperament, and preparation, you will die. This book will make you appreciate the comfort of your thermostat, refrigerator, clothes dryer, and desk job. While, opening up that wild place inside your heart, that has the urge to discover "How resilient am I?"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Hannah Nelson comes to America in the employ of Lady Hamilton. During the train trip West, she is courted by Hans Nelson but Lady Hamilton has other ideas for a proper husband and one very much not to Hannah's liking. Things take a spin after a major confrontation with her employer and Hannah accepts Hans' offer of marriage. The country's economy is in the tank, so they decide to try their luck at the Yukon Gold fields, but are turned by back by the Canadians for insufficient supplies (too many have already died, so they instituted these requirements). With prices sky-high in Skagway, they head to Sitka where employment is more likely. Once there, they meet up with a few other gold-hungry friends and when they hear of gold for the taking at Lituya Bay - who can resist the lure of gold?

Getting into the bay itself is no easy task as it has some very unusual (and dangerous!) wave activity going on, let alone the occasional earthquakes that have been known to generate a Tsunami here and there. Too complicated for me to explain, but you can read more on Wik and if you are really geeky there's a cool site with lots of geological info on The Giant Wave of 1958, I will leave the link in the comments). On top of that, the gold isn't just lying around, the work is long and hard and the results not terribly fruitful and the approach of winter gets closer and closer...

Let's just say that the price of that gold might be more than anyone expected, but you'll have to read it for yourself to find out what happened. At just over 300 pages, this is a quick easy read and I enjoyed it a lot, especially the wise old Tlingit Indian Negook. While I've heard about Alaska's great Tsunami before, I wasn't familiar with the specifics and I found the geologic makeup of the bay rather fascinating. According to the author's notes at the end her story and characters were based on real people and events - an added plus for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lots of spoilers in this review
I had difficulty deciding how I felt about this novel. It tells the story of Hannah Butler who comes to America as a ladies maid in the last decade of the nineteenth century. On a train ride west, almost out of boredom, she elopes with Hans Nelson. Nelson is an attractive man who is traveling west to Alaska to mine for gold. The couple travel from Seattle to Skagway, encounter conditions for which they are completely unprepared - no shelter available causing them to sleep outdoors. They retreat to Juneau to work and wait out the winter and then return north in search of gold. Through the winter they meet Dutch, a dreamer with information on a gold field in the north, Harky a simple minded soul who will provide the muscle for their team and Michael, an Irishman who owns the ship which will take them north.
The author details their trip north to Heartbroke Bay. The story has an authentic Alaskan feel to it. One can only image how brave those who settled this land were. The trip north is a sea voyage fraught with peril. They arrive and set up camp to begin their search for gold. A Tlingit Indian, Negook visits and warns them that settling in this part of the region is not safe - earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. The group ignores his advice (always happens that way doesn't it!). There is a growing attraction between Hannah and Michael which adds more tension to an already tense group. Nothing goes right for the group, very little gold is recovered and catastrophically their ship is lost when an iceberg destroys it.
Unbeknownst to her husband Hans, Hannah succumbs to Michael's advances and they become lovers. Helped by Negook they do locate a gold vein and harvest significant amounts of gold.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridget's Review November 2, 2010
Heartbroke Bay is a heart-wrenching story of determination. Lynn blew my mind with this book and as I kept reading it, I couldn't help be be touched, especially knowing that this book was inspired by a true story. This book gets 4 1/2 stars, easy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbroke Bay - Heartbreakingly Beautiful April 10, 2011
Like most people who have lived in Southeast Alaska for many years, I'm suspicious of novels that take place in the region. Heartbroke Bay is a carefully and beautifully crafted story - a thriller, really - demonstrating the author's intimate relationship with and respect for this wild place. The Alaskan rainforest can be unforgiving for the reckless, or the unlucky. The central character is a woman around the turn of the century who finds herself joining the gold rush to Alaska. Typically of stampeders, she and her small group are naive and underprepared. The author writes about their ordeal in graphic terms, with a studied understanding of the geography around Lituya Bay. He's clearly spent time in this wilderness and has done his research. At times the story is so intense that it reads like a horror story. D'Urso doesn't soften his presentation when adventure turns to misery and then to agony. He allows for expected misbehaviors in the face of panic and deprivation, as well as a surprising nobility within some characters, including a Tlingit shaman. This book is not for the faint of heart. That said, this story is full of heart. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put it down
Lynn D'Urso has penned a marvelous book that will capture your imagination and your emotions. The plot is based on a true story of five gold prospectors in Alaska in 1898 and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Richard T. Mahoney
5.0 out of 5 stars Book club selection
Great read we all liked it and would recommend it for others to read as well . Adventure, serious, twists and turns
Published 16 months ago by Judith Voss
5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters
This is a real grabber that keeps you reading when you should be going 5to bed. Very real characters that you care about. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Linda Daniel
4.0 out of 5 stars outstanding historical fiction
One imagines that Alaska is full of such stories.

A remarkable first novel. A touch overwritten in some parts but this is more than made up for in the truly excellent... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Brenda Teese
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and thought-provoking book- great for book clubs
My book club read this book last month and had some great discussions about it. The writing is good, not spectacular, but the story is very interesting and takes some unexpected... Read more
Published on October 5, 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I loved this book! I found it so descriptive I could feel the cold and all the misery. I have recommended this book to several people.
Published on July 11, 2012 by Muriel
5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction
Could not put the book down. It tells a great tale of complicated and flawed characters. The allure and fear of Alaska comes alive. I loved it!
Published on May 6, 2012 by Kristina Babcock
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing!
This has to be one of the most depressing books I have ever read. I kept waiting for something good to never did.
Published on July 7, 2011 by lred
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting Alaskan Drama.....
4.5 Stars. Excellent, excellent new novel from Lynn D'Urso (pen name) who has taken a real historical event and turned it into compelling historical fiction. Read more
Published on January 31, 2011 by M.Jacobsen
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
D'Urso (pen name) writes very carefully with every sentence, describing in much detail the weather conditions, environment and other information in this engrossing novel of nature. Read more
Published on January 25, 2011 by Carnelian
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