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Wayfaring Stranger: A Novel (A Holland Family Novel) Hardcover – July 15, 2014
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"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 is a New York Times bestselling author, two-time winner of the Edgar Award, and the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts in Fiction. A legend of the mystery genre, he's authored thirty-two novels and two short story collections including Robicheaux, Light of the World, Creole Belle, Swan Peak, The Tin Roof Blowdown, and Feast Day of Fools. He lives in Misoula, Montana.
Top customer reviews
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. I thought I would simply be intrigued, my interest piqued with all that was happening. I knew I would be curious about who was behind it all, who was guilty, who was innocent, and whose behavior couldn't be easily defined. I did not imagine making any connection, let alone how strong a connection I did make.
I was drawn into Weldon Holland's story from the moment of his fascination with Bonnie Parker. But it wasn't until he met and saved Rosita Lowenstein that I began to get to know and to like him. He proved himself to be honorable, loyal, understanding, forgiving, trusting, and good-hearted but not a push-over. He was a fighter and was not afraid to go after what he wanted. He became a character I was rooting for and hoped would triumph in the end.
There are many layers to this story that I'm still thinking about. It was a love story. It was a story about human nature. It was a story about acceptance and forgiveness, about right and wrong, about actions and consequences. It was a story about being honorable and sticking to one's beliefs no matter how difficult. It was a story about what it means to be a hero. It was a story about redemption. And it was so much more.
I read this in one sitting and it was unputdownable. I didn't want break away from the story, to leave the world even for a moment. But it's a story that I will re-read and take my time with so as to be able to further explore some of those layers, to be able to follow some of the trains of thought I'd set aside in order to not distract myself from what was in front of me, and to be able to delve deeper into the many ideas the author presented.
WAYFARING STRANGER is a story that brought me to tears, made me think, took me to a world that was both exciting and horrifying, and left its mark, much like Bonnie Parker did on young Weldon Avery Holland.
It is a fascinating, beautiful, heartrending and masterfully written story that is unparalleled and absolutely unforgettable.