Inlandby Published 13 Aug 2019
|Publisher||Random House Audio Publishing Group|
The New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger's Wife returns with a stunning tale of perseverance--an epic journey across an unforgettable landscape of magic and myth.
In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives collide. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life--her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.
Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Nora's and Lurie's stories intertwine is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.
Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht's talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely--and unforgettably--her own.
Téa Obreht burst onto the literary scene in 2011 with her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Orange Prize. I thought it a remarkable first novel and have been eagerly (and impatiently) waiting for her follow-up. I never expected that the follow-up would be a historical novel of the American West and I imagine other readers of The Tiger’s Wife might share that surprise. No worry, her reimagined vision of the western (and a little-known piece of history) is stunning, the eight-year wait well worth it. The writing here is gorgeous, Obreht fulfilling all the promise of her debut. Her description of a beautiful, but often unforgiving landscape is astonishing. I felt the heat and experienced the thirst of the parched, drought-stricken terrain. Her imagery is nothing short of brilliant and so necessary in a novel that is as much about the land as it is the people. As far as plot goes, to reveal even a little may be to reveal too much. I’ll only say there is a steady buildup of suspense, a sense of foreboding, accompanied with wonderful twists and surprises. I was left dumbstruck at the end and any wavering between a 4 and 5 star review was determined in those final pages. Obreht is simply a superb story-teller and delivers a sweeping tale rooted in time and place and the ghosts of an American West.
I want to thank Goodreads giveaways and Random House for this ARC.
Totally Hip Video Book Review of “Inland”: https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/...
Homeless and orphaned at age six, Lurie survived by working with "the Coachman" and sleeping in his stable. He helped collect "...lodgers who'd passed in their sleep, or had their throats cut by bunkmates." Grave robbing was included. Lurie developed a hunger. "A hunger that could not be satisfied...the want grew and grew." Apprehended by the law, he was sent away with other ruffians to the midwest. Securing a job at a mercantile and working with co-workers Donovan and Hobb Mattie, small robberies morphed into stagecoach robberies by the "Mattie Gang". Lurie was now a wanted man, on the run from Marshall John Berger.
Nora Lark felt "unbounded" by husband Emmett's move from town to town "to get away from all his mistakes and shortfalls." Nora was fiercely protective of their homestead in Amargo, Arizona territory. The year was 1893. Emmett, with sons Rob and Dolan, ran a small press, the Sentinel. Nora cared for youngest son Toby, blinded in one eye from a riding accident, wheelchair bound Gramma, and seventeen year old Josie, who communicated with the dead, a clairvoyant of sorts.
In order to create inner peace, both Lurie and Nora needed and found comfort in strange ways. Nora conversed with deceased daughter, Evelyn. This was comforting when Emmett journeyed to Cumberland for water. The family rain barrel was almost depleted. Rob and Dolan go to work at the print shop, or do they? Nora awaits the return of her husband and sons. Lurie's inner peace comes when working as a cameleer. He "talks" with Burke, his trusty camel, one of the pack animals for the U.S. cavalry.
"Inland" by Tea Obreht was filled with the struggles of frontier settlers living inland. The Camel Corps was instrumental in carrying salt, dry goods, even mail. Camels could bear heavier loads and in less time than horses. Author Obreht has taken two seemingly distinct storylines and masterfully connected them in a fascinating, poignant historical novel. Highly recommended.
Thank you Random House Publishing Group-Random House and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Inland".
DNF at 30%. It may be my reading mood, but I've picked this up several times, and I am not connecting with the story nor the characters. The story was just striking me as disjointed.
I wasn’t captivated by The Tiger's Wife so I almost wasn’t going to read this. But I kept reading so much about it that my interest was piqued, and I have to say that I was very captivated by this western story. There are two narratives which for most of the novel felt very disconnected, but when they did, it was an amazing thing. Lurie, a Middle Eastern immigrant is brought to Missouri by his father in 1856. When his father dies, Lurie is sold to the Coachman who picks up the dead and robs graves. He finds “brothers” in Donovan and Hobb Mattie and soon becomes an outlaw. Nora’s is the second narrative and it’s 1893 in Amargo, Arizona Territory, where homesteading is tough and living on this parched land during a drought can be brutal. It’s particularly hard for Nora, whose husband is missing and then her two sons, as she tries to keep her home, while caring for her young son Toby, who sees a beast and her husband’s niece who holds seances. Nora is so thirsty and the writing is so spectacular- so was I because I felt as if I was there .
There is death here and whether or not there are ghosts here is a question that the reader will have to reconcile for themselves. Is his lost “brother” Hobb a ghost or does Lurie just imagine Hobb’s “want” that makes him steal? Is Evelyn, Nora’s daughter who died as a baby and has grown beside Nora through the years, an apparition or is Nora’s imagining her as a way of dealing with her grief and the secret she holds? I know this might sound eerie, but for me it wasn’t. I can’t forget to mention, Lurie’s camel, Burke who is his best friend and confidante. Camels in the west? So of course, this had me searching to find out if this was true and it was. There was a United States Camel Corp, an army experiment to use camels as pack animals : https://armyhistory.org/the-u-s-armys...
It’s slow going at times and it took a while for the two narratives to connect, but it was worth the wait to get to that moment where a sip of water meant everything in this time of desolation and despair. Beautifully written and highly recommended. I won’t hesitate to read Tea Obreht’s next book.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley.