Fugitive Wife

( 5 )

Overview

“All about passion, whether for . . . romance or adventure, this sweeping debut renders poetically the dynamics of desire.”—Kirkus Reviews
The year is 1900 in gold-prospecting Alaska. Essie, a Midwestern farm girl fleeing from a stormy marriage, joins up with prospectors bound for Nome, where the golden sands teem with dreamers, schemers, and high rollers. When Leonard, Essie's stubborn and volatile husband, travels north, astonishing scenes of pursuit, sacrifice, and crucial decision rise to a conclusion that is...

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Overview

“All about passion, whether for . . . romance or adventure, this sweeping debut renders poetically the dynamics of desire.”—Kirkus Reviews
The year is 1900 in gold-prospecting Alaska. Essie, a Midwestern farm girl fleeing from a stormy marriage, joins up with prospectors bound for Nome, where the golden sands teem with dreamers, schemers, and high rollers. When Leonard, Essie's stubborn and volatile husband, travels north, astonishing scenes of pursuit, sacrifice, and crucial decision rise to a conclusion that is both surprising and inevitable. Powerfully evoking a past world and the variable territory of the heart, this novel establishes Peter C. Brown as a consummate storyteller. Reading group guide included.

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Editorial Reviews

Paulette Jiles
“A gripping story about the search for gold, for love, for the discovery of honor and the mysteries of the human heart.”
Publishers Weekly
The 1900 gold rush to Nome, Alaska, sweeps up Esther (Essie) Crummey, the resilient and pragmatic title character of this evocative historical novel, Brown's promising debut. A Minnesota farm girl, Essie marries a drifter named Leonard Crummey, a volatile man burdened by a painful past. They begin a life together on their own fledgling farm, but the birth of a deformed son, Gabriel, and the devastation of their farm by a flood turn Leonard into a "hard husband." His alcoholism and unilateral decision to sell much of their land corrodes their marriage. After further disaster, Essie leaves. Headed for her sister's in Seattle, Essie helps in a dockside accident on a Nome-bound ship, an intervention through which she meets Nate Deaton, the earnest, East Coast-educated young foreman for the Cape Nome Company. He hires her for the Nome venture, and mutual respect and conversation draw them together despite their varied backgrounds. But a beleaguered, die-hard Leonard follows his wife to Nome, where he threatens the budding devotion between Nate and Essie. This is an eloquent, memorable first novel, with high-powered characters whose prickly exteriors, created out of the need to survive, hide affectingly yearning and haunted souls. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Nola Theiss
This novel takes place around the turn of the 20th century, first in Minnesota, then in Nome during the gold rush. The author based the story on his own grandfather's adventures as a mining engineer in Alaska, but the main character is a young woman named Esther. She is a farm girl in Minnesota who marries a hired hand and tries to turn him into a farmer when basically he is a person who can't get anything right and always blames others for it. When their young son, who is born stunted on one side, is killed in a fire that is her husband's fault, she leaves him to live with her sister in the West and ends up traveling to Alaska to care for a mining company's horses. On her own, she starts a number of small businesses, but is always fearful that her husband will find her. When she gets word that he is coming, she sets out to the wilderness and ends up falling in love with the foreman of the mining company. Esther, her husband and the mining engineer, along with others, are well-developed characters and the settings of Minnesota and Alaska are well researched and authentic.
Library Journal
In 1900, Nome, AK, looks a whole lot better to adventurous Essie than the Midwest-but what if her husband comes after her? A promising debut. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
All about passion, whether for flesh or fortune, romance or adventure, this sweeping debut renders poetically the dynamics of desire. As the 20th century dawns, intrepid Essie Crummey joins gold prospectors heading far north. Stark, remote, exotic Alaska, she senses, will free her from Midwestern malaise, the small life of a farmer's wife. A fugitive from an abusive marriage, she draws close to Nate Deaton, visionary foreman of the Cape Nome Company, whose dreams are Promethean-he intends to "establish the largest steam dredge in the history of mining on the entire Seward Peninsula"-but whose spirit is gentle. Laconic, introspective, he's a bird-fancier, a bit of a nature mystic. He hires Essie to tend the company's horses, and she thrives at that tough, ministering labor. But she's haunted. Dogging her trail is her past with Leonard, the husband she has spurned. The id incarnate, a dark, rapacious brooder out of D.H. Lawrence, he's as enamored of his jug and his tantrums as he is of Essie. He is, moreover, ferociously possessive. And as he begins stalking the woman who dared flee him, she's torn between two embodiments of male energy-Nate, stalwart and strong, and Leonard, unchecked force. Violent lyricism animates Brown's prose and powerful zest drives his saga. Characters such as Major French, battle-scarred veteran of San Juan Hill, and Alexander McKenzie, a doughty entrepreneur and psychic brother to the Carnegies and Vanderbilts, help make the historical spirit of the story ring true, and descriptions of period sea-faring and gold-digging help the reader experience the past. And yet it's as a tale of perennial obsessions-greed, sex, love and fevered need-that the book really works.Bold, occasionally brutal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393329759
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/22/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter C. Brown’s grandfather was a prospector, the engineer for a gold-mining company in Nome, Alaska. Brown is a retired business consultant, and he and his wife live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I read this novel a few years ago, but loved it enough to check

    I read this novel a few years ago, but loved it enough to check in to see if the author had written anything new (sadly, it doesn't appear so). But I am happy to add a very hearty recommendation. The heroine of this novel is one of the best characters I've ever encountered in 40 years as an avid reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    Storytelling At Its Finest

    Don't get this book if your main goal is reading about Alaska--that's what nonfiction is for. Buy this book because you love a good, well-told story, because you're addicted to complex, complicated, compelling characters. The Fugitive Wife is a superior novel, wrought with some of the most gorgeous language being crafted in contemporary fiction. The fact that you get lots of juicy inside-info on the history of gold mining in Alaska at the turn of the century is icing on the cake of this pulse- pounding adventure. But the true adventure involves the life or death leaps of the human heart, the risk-taking of trusting your instincts, the thrill-ride of giving yourself over to love that answers back as selflessly as it's given. For the cover price of this book, you get in return a journey you'll never forget, with characters who will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2008

    Great Read on Alaskan Frontier

    I too enjoyed this book, recommended to me by a bookstore owner whose opinion I trust. The plot moves along the characters are well-drawn,and the setting seems to be historically accurate. Furthermore, the ending is satisfying and not 'happily ever after.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2006

    One Fabulous Novel

    There is so much to savor here I know I'll read THE FUGITIVE WIFE again. With the authority of careful research and the grace of a gifted storyteller, Peter Brown gives us a window to history, a love triangle, an unforgettable tale. He parcels out the narrative, telling just enough to make the three main characters, Essie, Nate and Leonard, vivid and compelling, while holding back pieces we're both itching and afraid to know. We meet Guppy Totman, Plug Jefferson and so many other zany souls, Charles Dickens could take a lesson. Brown guides us expertly through century-old worlds of farming, trapping, chicken husbandry, mining and more. His language is rich and in tune with its time, and I stopped often to read a beautifully crafted paragraph twice, or three times. 'Abiding.' Watch for this pitch-perfect, one-word sentence. The countless, lyrical phrases Brown finds to describe the sky, water, ships setting sail. Nuggets of heart-baring insight, dug deep from emotionally restrained characters. And humor. You will laugh out loud at the 'five erect fingers of mortuary fortune,' and more. I'll warn you: a very creepy snake inhabits this novel. And, like the rest of THE FUGITIVE WIFE, Peter Brown brings it masterfully to life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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