Redemption Mountain

Gerry FitzGerald. Holt, $27 (496p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9489-3
Against the backdrop of rural West Virginia, Fitzgerald’s accomplished first novel, originally self-published in 2009 as The Pie Man, tracks the improbable relationship between young Natty Oakes, a local “hillbilly” woman with the proverbial heart of gold, and Charlie Burden, a wealthy, college-educated, sophisticated Northeasterner with a strong moral compass. Both Natty and Charlie are dissatisfied with their married lives. Natty’s shotgun marriage, already complicated by her firstborn son’s Down syndrome, is upended when her husband’s hubris and drinking quash his football career. Meanwhile Charlie, an executive with a New York engineering firm, has become uninterested in the superficial country-club life that still grips his socialite wife. When Charlie’s firm sends him to the backwater town of Red Bone, W.Va., he’s captivated by the area’s natural beauty and unpretentious locals, not the least of whom are Natty and her son, called “Pie Man,” with whom Charlie develops a sweet bond. Fitzgerald, an advertising pro, adeptly sells the duo’s unlikely romance, and though the author can be didactic about the environmental effect of the mountaintop coal mining, his compelling take on the behind-the-scenes politics driving the area’s energy industries is eye-opening. Agent: Loretta Barrett, Loretta Barrett Books Inc. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013
Release date: 06/25/2013
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