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Wayfaring Stranger: A Novel Hardcover – July 15, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (July 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476710791
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476710792
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (520 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A big, broad, engagingly overstuffed new novel set with rousing confidence in midcentury Texas. . . . Like much of Burke's fiction, it's saturated with the romance of the past while mournfully attuned to the unholy menace of the present. . . . The opening sequence is extraordinarily taut and vivid [and]Burke knows how to keep a story humming along. . . . The novel is full of prose as strong and precise as Hershel Pine's pipeline welds . . . and then there's Burke's sense of place, which is so richly interwoven with his sense of history." (The New York Times Book Review)

“[A] pitch-black, decades-spanning family saga.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Burke seems to get better and better with every book. During the last few years in particular, he has opened up a larger canvas to paint brilliant allegorical plots – involving good and evil, money and power, Christianity and morality – and in some ways he has lifted the work above the level of crime fiction in a way that is more obvious to readers. . . . [Wayfaring Stranger] is one of the most hopeful and ambitious books he’s ever written, a sprawling historical epic full of courage and loyalty and optimism and good-heartedness that reads like an ode to the American Dream.” (Benjamin Percy Poets & Writers)

“[An] epic American saga . . . Burke, best known for his Dave Robicheaux series, writes with great assurance and wisdom.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“The postwar setting allows Burke to dramatize the uncertain early days of big oil, but the characters, their volcanic conflicts and their implacable demons will be instantly recognizable to [his] many fans. Instead of focusing on the wages of long-ago sin, as he generally does, Burke shows the sins actually being committed over several fraught years in the nation’s history. The result is a new spaciousness married to his fine-tuned sense of retribution.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“An ambitious, deeply satisfying historical thriller. . . . The wartime scenes showcase Burke at his best—vivid, finely wrought, highly evocative writing . . . A wonderful slice of midcentury American life overlaid with the roiling drama of individual lives as only Burke can portray them.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Burke's fans will recognize his lyrical strengths regarding the themes of social justice and class struggle, violence set to a stunning backdrop of natural beauty and destruction, and a Gulf Coast region that includes historically accurate details to delight Texas and Louisiana natives. . . . Perhaps more than any of Burke's previous work, Wayfaring Stranger is a tender love story, proving yet again his versatility and skill in creating gorgeous, luscious, painful stories of the American experience. Beautifully composed and tragic, Wayfaring Stranger is a sweeping historical epic of war and the American dream.” (ShelfAwareness.com)

“In the hands of Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Burke, the thriller promises to have the sinister edge missing from the similarly plotted ‘Forrest Gump.’” (The Washington Post)

“In Wayfaring Stranger, Burke addresses many of the same themes he grapples with in his crime novels: power and corruption, integrity and depravity, America's indelible heritage of violence and oppression and the valor of those who have stood against it. In this novel, he gives those themes a sweep across several decades, wrapping them in his signature lushly electrifying descriptions and embodying them in intriguing characters in a tale that is a historical novel, a thriller, a romance and an irresistible read.” (Tampa Bay Tribune)

“Unlike anything else he has written […] Wayfaring Stranger is the author’s hymn to life and the light in us all.” (Austin American-Statesman)

“But for all of the stories Burke’s told in interviews or fit on the pages of his 36 published books, there’s something different about his latest novel, Wayfaring Stranger. Burke, who lives outside of Missoula, acknowledges as much. Whenever the conversation shifts to the book, he sits forward, lowers his voice and sounds less like he’s serving up a colorful story and more like he’s making a confession.” (Missoula Independent)

"The lyrical gravitas of Burke’s prose underlines the moral stance of his hero, an absolutist as fixed toward right and wrong as a compass needling true north." (Kirkus Reviews)

“Burke's last three novels, Light of the World, Creole Belle and Feast Day of Fools, were arguably his best. Wayfaring Stranger joins them as one of his most powerful and ambitious novels to date.” (The Associated Press)

“[Burke] has produced a magnificent and 'unput-downable' tome that encompasses the whole of his career as a great writer.” (Providence Journal)

"My favorite fiction author." (Bill O'Reilly)

Wayfaring Stranger is a celebration of goodness in the face of evil: a sprawling saga peopled with gangsters, Hollywood types, oil men, old Army buddies haunted by wartime decisions, corrupt lawmen, rigid bureaucrats […] But what elevates a ripping good story to literary achievement is Mr. Burke’s lyrical prose. A reader always knows where he is in time and place in a James Lee Burke novel because these are elegantly conveyed in a completely non-fussy way.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“[M]y immediate reaction upon finishing James Lee Burke’s latest book was that, in five decades or so, people will read it, speak of it, and study it in the same manner as they do The Great Gatsby.” (Book Reporter)

“Like Babe Ruth, late in his career, pointing toward the center field bleachers at Wrigley Field before sending a ball soaring out of the stadium, James Lee Burke has managed, in one swift maneuver, to confirm and enhance his legacy. At the age of 77, the Edgar Award-winning crime novelist has written his best book.” (The Daily Beast)

About the Author

James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards, and named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, is the author of more than thirty previous novels and two collections of short stories, including such New York Times bestsellers as Light of the WorldCreole Belle, Swan Peak, The Tin Roof Blowdown, and Feast Day of Fools. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

More About the Author

James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards, is the author of twenty-three previous novels, including such New York Times bestsellers as Bitterroot, Purple Cane Road, Cimarron Rose, Jolie Blon's Bounce, and Dixie City Jam. He lives in Missoula, Montana, and New Iberia, Louisiana.

Customer Reviews

Well developed female characters....interesting story line and setting....
Carole W. Hart
I guess the thing that made this book such a good read for me is that I knew the places he was writing about.
Allan
This is a story that only an accomplished writer who puts his heart and soul into his words could write.
PoCoKat

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Fiktshun on July 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
James Lee Burke's WAYFARING STRANGER is a richly imagined, sweeping tale that will take readers back to a time in America's history that still retained some of its innocence. The story invites readers to follow along with Weldon Avery Holland as he struggles to hang on to who he is, his values and his beliefs through war, corruption and when faced with the depths of evil that men will go to.

From a run-in with the Barrow Gang, to the final stages of the European Theater of World War II, to the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana, Weldon Holland's story is thrilling, suspense- and danger-filled, and will keep readers riveted. The narrative speaks of a country tainted by the fear of Communism, an elitist class of unscrupulous and unethical people envious and fearful of those not like them, and a man desperate to protect all that he has - his friends, the woman he loves, himself.

This is the first novel I've read by Author James Lee Burke, but it certainly won't be the last. His writing transported me into Weldon's world, a world that had both good and evil, darkness and light and all the varying shades of grey in between. The author painted the most incredible picture with his words. His landscape was sometimes beautiful and at others terrible, but it was so exquisitely detailed that I felt as if I was right there along with his characters as they struggled to uncover the truths about themselves, about those they want to trust, and about those they shouldn't.

I didn't anticipate making an emotional connection with this story or its characters. With the way the narrative was presented I expected to fall in love with writing, the setting, the history, the epic nature of the story. But I didn't expect it to allow for a bond with the characters or their plight.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Suncoast TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very different James Lee Burke (JLB) novel to his popular Dave Robicheaux detective thrillers. This is a book about good and evil in life seen through the eyes of Weldon Holland who grew up in Texas during the Depression, fought in WWII and returned home to try to make his fortune. It is written by a master storyteller whose prose, as usual, is remarkable and atmospheric.

Weldon's first brush with good and evil came when infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow drove onto his Grandfather's property. He was immediately captured by Bonnie's beauty, an impression that never left him, but things changed when they came back the next day after a bank robbery went bad. After one of them spat on his Grandfather as they drove away Weldon fired a shot through the car's back window. This first dramatic encounter with good and evil never left him.

During WWII Weldon saw real evil, especially when Second Lieutenant Holland and his Sergeant, Hershel Pine, were caught behind enemy lines and to escape boarded an empty freight train that took them to a death camp that had been abandoned by the fleeing SS. Among a pile of emaciated bodies Weldon finds 23 year old Rosita Lowenstein who is just alive. Rosita is Jewish and had grown up in Madrid and her parents were famous Communists who fought for the Republic. Weldon and Hershell carry Rosita as she slowly regains her strength while they find the way back to their lines. They get parted when Weldon goes back to the front but his blooming attraction for for Rosita sends him across Europe after the war to find her again. They marry and return to Texas.

After the war Hershell encourages Weldon to seek their fortunes in the oil business using a new pipeline welding process.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MyBookishWays on July 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I shamefully admit that it’s been awhile since I’ve read anything by the wonderful James Lee Burke. It’s all good, though, because Wayfaring Stranger has reignited my love for his books, and I’ll be devouring the rest of them soon enough. Wayfaring Stranger could be called a thriller, I suppose. It’s paced like one at times. But, oh gosh, it’s so much more. Weldon Holland, grandson of Hackberry, is only 16 in 1934 when Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker come blazing through the Holland land after orchestrating the prison break at Eastham. Insouciant in their 1932 Chevy Confederate, they’re a source of instant fascination for young Weldon, especially the feral eyed Bonnie Parker with her beret titled over one eye. In a separate encounter a short time later, perhaps thinking he was protecting his grandfather, Weldon shoots his .44 into the back of the Chevy as it flees. This would prove to be a defining moment in his life. Then we move on to Holland’s stint in WWII in which he and his Sergeant, Hershel Pine, rescue a lovely woman, Rosita, from an SS death camp. Holland subsequently marries Rosita and when Pine tracks him down with a claim of a pipe weld that would never break, and the birth of their company, The Dixie Belle Pipeline Company, in 1946. The following years are good for them, but after a business venture goes south, they have no choice but to accept a loan from an untrusted source, and when Pine’s wife, the spirited and wayward Linda Gail, is “discovered” and introduced to the glittering gutters of Hollywood, it kicks off a chain of events that threaten everything they’ve built and everyone they love.

If you enjoy character driven sagas with plenty of kick, you’ll love Wayfaring Stranger, and if you’re already a fan of Burke’s work, it’s a given.
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