New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
Amazon Best of June Pick
Nancy Pearl/NPR Summer Reading Pick
Winner of the Mountains & Plains Reading the West Award
Finalist for the High Plains Book Award
In New York, in 1904, Dulcy Remfrey, despite an idiosyncratic, traveling childhood, faces the predictable life of a woman of the time. All that changes when her father returns from Africa without any of the proceeds from the sale of a gold mine, and without his sanity. Dulcy’s ex-fiancée (and her father’s business partner) insists she come to Seattle to decipher her father’s cryptic notebooks, which may hold clues to the missing funds. When her father dies unexpectedly, taking the truth with him, Dulcy looks at her future, finds it unbearable, and somewhere in the northern Rockies disappears from the train bringing her father’s body home.
Is it possible to disappear from your old life and create another? Dulcy travels the West reading stories about her own death and finds a small Montana town where she’s reborn as Mrs. Nash, a wealthy young widow. But her old life won’t let go so easily, and threatens the new life she is so eager to create.
The Widow Nash is a riveting narrative, with a colorful cast of characters and idiosyncratic set pieces in Europe and Africa. Dulcy, dodging an old fate at the beginning of the modern world, is an indelible heroine, and the novel surprises with twists and turns, a ribald sensibility, and rich images and details.
“With The Widow Nash, Jamie Harrison breathes fresh life into a fascinating period of American history. Indeed, the past has not passed. The Widow Nash is an adventurous, ambitious, inventive novel by a writer to relish.”—Colum McCann
“This deliciously ambitious novel delivers one memorable character after another. None is more magnetic than the ‘Widow Nash’ herself, a fabulous heroine and irresistible travel companion. Jamie Harrison is a clever, gifted writer, and this shining book is flat-out terrific.” —Carl Hiaasen
“With Technicolor, vibrant prose, Jamie Harrison’s novel The Widow Nash reinvents the Western from a feminist perspective; from the first page, the fierce Dulcy brings the reader into her unforgettable world. A novel as wildly original and memorable as the West itself.” —Karen E. Bender, author of Refund, a finalist for the National Book Award
“Historic fiction at its best, this sweeping novel features a strong woman, her brilliant but eccentric father, and the dark obsessive man who was both her father’s business partner and her ex-fiancé . . . Dulcy is a vivid heroine, brave, intelligent, and unwilling to accept the limits on women imposed by her era; instead she risks everything for life on her own terms encompassing the possibility of joy and meaning. The writing is sublime; you can almost feel the winds that howl in Livingston, Montana; the descriptions are haunting and make you feel as if you are there.” —Deon Stonehouse, staff pick for Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, OR
This gorgeously written historical novel follows Dulcy, a young woman in 1904 who attempts to flee her late father’s business problems — and her violent ex-fiancé’s grasp — by traveling west and posing as a wealthy widow.
Entertainment Weekly, The Must List
“Harrison paints a lovely and memorable portrait of a desperate woman’s flight to a new life . . . Harrison’s lead is a strong and clever woman who is easy to admire, while the rest of the heroes, villains, and ambiguous sorts are as vividly drawn as the raw and terrible scenery of Montana. Readers will treasure Harrison’s rich characterization and sharp turns of phrase.” —Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)
"Richly descriptive, The Widow Nash is the luminous story of a woman suspended between two worlds, one promising, the other catastrophic."—BookPage
“Harrison . . . writes atmospheric historical fiction featuring both drama and bizarrely entertaining humor. There are Whartonesque touches in the demarcations of society . . . A subtler comedy of errors among a quirky cast of characters.” —Booklist
“If an Edith Wharton heroine had decided to ditch the bustles and the propriety and simply light out for a fresh start in the Territories, she might have called herself the Widow Nash. Jamie Harrison has turned her formidable talents to breathing life into just such a creature, with astonishing results. Not only do we get a pitch-perfect evocation of a prior time, but a subtle reworking of America’s great central myth—and its inheritor, Dulcy Remfrey, is so well rendered as to make you forget you’re reading about any particular era at all. That’s the mark of greatness.” —Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses
“From the profoundly generous and encyclopedic mind of Jamie Harrison comes a compelling novel of reinvention and the seismic sacrifices we make for difficult family. Every page contains a new historical and emotional discovery. Harrison is a true original, and she gives us a father-daughter love story for the ages.” —Sheri Holman, author of the New York Times bestseller The Dress Lodger
“Thoughtful, richly written historical fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Jamie Harrison’s precise and mesmerizing prose carries the reader through an adventurous story of escape, identity, and rebirth with dynamic and fascinating characters. It’s an Old Western mixed with a Victorian classic, all with a fierce feminist twist. I read it compulsively.”—Katie Eelman, bookseller for Papercut, Boston
With loads of drama (murder! theft!) and an empowering message, this guy is pretty unputdownable.
Pure Wow (top pick)