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This Bright River: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Patrick Somerville
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $6.11 (41%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

A compelling story of young love and old secrets

Lauren Sheehan's career in medicine came to a halt after a chain of violent events abroad. Now she's back in the safest place she knows-St. Helens, Wisconsin-cut off from career, friendship, and romance.

Ben Hanson's aimless young life has bottomed out after a series of bad decisions, but a surprising offer from his father draws him home for what looks like his final second chance. In Wisconsin, he finds his family fractured, still unable to face the truth behind his troubled cousin's death a decade earlier.

As Lauren cautiously expands her horizons and Ben wrestles with his regrets and mistakes, their paths intersect. Could each be exactly what the other needs? Or the last thing in the world either one can handle?

The weight of secrets, the price of success, and the cost of love all linger at the heart of this surprising, unsettling, deeply satisfying novel. Rich with the dark humor and piercing intelligence that made The Cradle so beloved, This Bright River confirms Somerville's status as one of the most engaging and daring young writers at work today.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Starred Review - Booklist
Somerville, the author of two funny, innovative short story collections and an impressive first novel, The Cradle (2009), takes a quantum leap in his torrential second novel, which is set in his home state of Wisconsin. Prodigal son and ex-con Ben somehow burned through his million-dollar trust. Dazed and aimless at 32 after his release from prison and newly haunted by his philosophical cousin's inexplicable death along the Bright River some years ago, Ben is now charged with putting his recently deceased uncle's house on the market. Lauren has also returned to St. Helens, battered by traumatic events but determined to start over. They knew each other slightly in high school, when she was intent on getting into medical school, and he was a rich-kid slacker. Somerville slowly reveals their painful derailments, from Ben's thwarted role in developing a famous video game to Lauren's tragic sojourn as an aid doctor in Chad. Somerville has a gift for spurring dialogue, and the meandering narrative tributaries he explores stoke our curiosity and build suspense as he crosses the wilderness of madness and bloodshed, lies and loyalty, courage and love in this by turns rolling and raging river of a novel.

About the Author

Patrick Somerville grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and later earned his MFA from Cornell University. He is the author of the story collections Trouble and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, and the novel The Cradle. He lives with his wife and son in Chicago, where he teaches creative writing at Northwestern University.

Product Details

  • File Size: 585 KB
  • Print Length: 466 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316129313
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (June 26, 2012)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005SCR8LE
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,235 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both thrilling and boring, but overall a good read June 29, 2012
Format:Hardcover
This is about thirty-something Ben, who returns to his childhood town to do up his deceased uncle's house with the intention to sell it. He meets a former class mate, Lauren, and they hook up together. Both of them have skeletons in their cupboards and in Lauren's case, her past comes back to her with a vengeance. There are a few thrilling moments when both their lives are in danger.

I had a mixed reading experience with this book. Sometimes I found the story compelling and I wanted to read on, while at other times I was bored. I enjoyed reading about Ben arriving in his childhood town, getting to know the place (again) and the people. But there were memories that I didn't care about intermixed with this story. Later on in the book, it becomes a thriller for a while, which was all rather exciting.

As the book is told by both Ben and Lauren, the perspective shifts every so often (and sometimes quite often), which makes the story more interesting.

It was clear from the moment Lauren joined the narrative, that she would be involved with Ben in some way or another. At first, their lives were very much separate and when they did meet, Lauren showed no interest in Ben whatsoever. So the foreshadowing made me curious to see how they would end up in the same story line.

Most loose ends are tight up at the end of the story and overall, I enjoyed it. Both Ben and Lauren have a past that comes to haunt them, and when that happens, the book certainly gains pace and becomes quite compelling.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Novel September 7, 2012
By Ethan
Format:Hardcover
Ben Hanson is no stranger to mistakes. Recently released from prison, he understands that he made errors in both his personal and professional life. Now, free from confinement and with new sobriety, Ben wanders though life, searching for some kind of meaning. When his uncle Denny passes away, Ben's father, Jack, invites him to move back to his hometown to help settle his late uncle's estate.

Upon his arrival, Ben is flooded with memories of his past. He recalls the tragic death of his older cousin, Wayne, a tragedy that still haunts his family. As he begins to delve into his uncle's estate, fragments of the past come to light, all adding to the mystery of Wayne's demise.

In the same town, Lauren Sheehan is also trying to rebuild her life. Escaping from a violent ex-husband and abandoning her medical career, Lauren has returned to her hometown in search of a fresh start. In the small town, it is now surprise that the paths of Ben and Lauren intersect. Having no true past relationship, the two slowly become interested in each other. As time passes, their troubled lives become intertwined, creating a connection that they could have never imagined. Together, they kindle a romance and attempt to move on with their lives before their negative past catches up with them.

Going into this novel, I was unsure of what to expect. Normally, I try to steer clear of any "romance" novels, but this story offered much more. By slowly presents fragments of the two characters lives, mostly through flashback from each character's recollections, Somerville provides just enough information to keep the reader wanting more. Intricately imagined, the characters seem like genuine people who have had a rough go at life.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cautiously recommend July 1, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I think I liked the book. The author confusingly introduced numerous plots that the reader had to weave together; many of which were not resolved satisfactorily even though the main character's (Ben) spent a lot of time in introspection. The introspection became a bit tedious about halfway through the book, which might explain Ben's inabiltiy to do much..."paralysis by analysis". That being said I will read this author again, if nothing else to see if he can edit better next time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See the Surface then Dive Down Deep September 28, 2012
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book, though when you first start reading, you might not quite know what to make of it. The tone is laid back and conversational, which belies the story's ever-developing complexity, and you might be a little unsure about the characters, who come off initially as a little too glib and directionless to fully deserve your sympathy.

But, but, but! You know there is more going on underneath, so you let the voices pull you along. Then, in the way that people do, the protagonists, Ben and Lauren, begin to develop an intimacy that allows them to let go of their facades and open up to the pain of their pasts, revealing depths of being that are beautiful, rich, and compellingly human. And as the characters continue to open up, a mystery grows as if from a seed and begins to interweave with their pasts, driving them at an ever-accelerating rate to a stunning and terrifying confrontation with the things they tried to bury in themselves.

This is a wonderfully well-written novel of deep psychological complexity that escalates into a gripping tale, and it will stay with you long after you've read the final page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Bright River July 16, 2012
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent book and one that I highly recommend. The characters are well-drawn and the author enables us to get inside of their heads throughout the story.

It is a well-crafted mystery, as well as a love story and, ultimately, a story of redemption.

I found myself, at first, frustrated with the protagonist, Ben Hanson. But by the end of the story, I was rooting for him all the way as his character grew.

The opening sequence will keep you guessing througout this engrossing tale.

If you are looking for an wonderful tale, intelligently written, this book is for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Way too much filler!
I think the writer could've cut about 200 pages out of this book! After reading this I will never read another one of his books. The story did so much jumping around.
Published 8 months ago by ccorni
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright River: murky water and clarity
An original voice tells a story about two people on separate journeys of self discovery who discover their love for each other.
Published 12 months ago by Stuart Patinkin
5.0 out of 5 stars This Bright River
The book arrived in a timely manner. It was exactly as described by the seller -- in "great condition" with the book jacket in perfect condition. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Don Kynaston
3.0 out of 5 stars It was ok.
It was just an ok read, I liked the twists in the end, a little far fetched though. I would try another one of his books, but if it reads like this one, probably wouldn't... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Kareen
5.0 out of 5 stars A "misreviewed" gem
I have read this book twice and listened to the audiobook twice. It is for readers who are able to continue reading some wonderful prose, streams of consciousness of the major... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Steve1290
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thinking Man's 'Gone Girl'
Do not skip this book - it is one of the best of the year.

This book is not just a mystery, although the last 50-75 pages kept me glued to my chair wanting to figure out... Read more
Published on December 12, 2012 by Ed
4.0 out of 5 stars This Bright River
A very good read. Well written and very clever. Alternating between several points of view, the characters are well drawn. The plot moves along as a result of this devise. Read more
Published on October 30, 2012 by Robie
1.0 out of 5 stars BORING!!!
I couldn't wait to finish this book. I can't remember the last time I read something so boring. Will probably not read another book from this author. Read more
Published on August 26, 2012 by Lynne Cunzenheim
5.0 out of 5 stars A puzzle disguised as a thriller.
At one point, and I won't describe it because it would ruin about three different things, I actually read a certain sentence and whisper-shrieked, "NO WAY! Read more
Published on August 19, 2012 by nola barrett
4.0 out of 5 stars Very compelling after a "slowish" start.
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book but I was pleasantly surprised. It becomes a page turner about 1/3 in. I highly recommend it.
Published on August 19, 2012 by flea
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More About the Author

Patrick Somerville is the author of two novels - This Bright River and The Cradle - and two books of short stories - Trouble and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature. He lives with his wife and son in Chicago, and he teaches creative writing in the MFA programs at Warren Wilson and Northwestern University.

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