An extraordinary new novel by Samantha Harvey—whose books have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize), and the Guardian First Book Award—The Western Wind is a riveting story of faith, guilt, and the freedom of confession.
It’s 1491. In the small village of Oakham, its wealthiest and most industrious resident, Tom Newman, is swept away by the river during the early hours of Shrove Saturday. Was it murder, suicide, or an accident? Narrated from the perspective of local priest John Reve—patient shepherd to his wayward flock—a shadowy portrait of the community comes to light through its residents’ tortured revelations. As some of their darkest secrets are revealed, the intrigue of the unexplained death ripples through the congregation. But will Reve, a man with secrets of his own, discover what happened to Newman? And what will happen if he can’t?
Written with timeless eloquence, steeped in the spiritual traditions of the Middle Ages, and brimming with propulsive suspense, The Western Wind finds Samantha Harvey at the pinnacle of her outstanding novelistic power.
SAMANTHA HARVEY is the author of three novels, Dear Thief, All Is Song, and The Wilderness, which won the Betty Trask Prize. Her books have been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Guardian First Book Award, and the James Tait Black Prize, as well as longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize. She lives in Bath, UK, and teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University.
Read an Excerpt
Dust and ashes though I am, I sleep the sleep of angels. Most nights nothing wakes me, not til I’m ready. But my sleep was ragged that night and pierced in the morning by someone calling to me in fear. A voice hissing, urgent, through the grille, “Father, are you in there?”
“Carter?” Even in a grog, I knew this voice well. “What’s the matter?”
“A drowned man in the river. Down at West Fields. I—I was down at the river to see about clearing a tree that’s fallen across it. A man there in the water, pushed up against the tree like a rag, Father.”
“Is he dead?”
“Dead as anything I’ve ever seen.”
I’d slept that night on the low stool of the confession booth with my cheek against the oak. A troubled night’s sleep, very far from the angels. Now I stood and pushed my skirts as flat as they’d go. Outside looked dark; it could have been any time of night or early morning, and my hands and feet were rigid with cold.
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