cover image Valiant Gentlemen

Valiant Gentlemen

Sabina Murray. Grove, $27 (496p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2545-3

Brimming with exquisite detail and clever humor, PEN/Faulkner winner Murray’s wondrously written historical novel ferries a vivid cast of characters across continents and decades, from the sweltering jungles of 19th-century Africa to cosmopolitan Paris in the wake of World War I. Here the close-knit avatars of history are Roger Casement, an Irish revolutionary, and Herbert Ward, a former circus performer turned devoted husband and father. Early chapters follow the two friends into cannibalistic villages and Manhattan’s earliest gay bars, along the Continental Railroad and speaking tours of the West Coast, eventually to Ward’s marriage to Sarita Sanford, a headstrong Argentinian-American heiress. The cracks in the central friendship fissure at the advent of the Great War, with Ward fighting alongside his son for England, Casement lending his talents to the Germans, who promise to free Ireland from British control. As in Tales of the New World and The Caprices, the author maintains an impressive balance of historical accuracy and dramatic momentum, crafting a stellar fiction that shows how the grand course of history can be shaped by the smallest disagreements between friends. Agent: Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. (Nov.)