cover image The Widow Nash

The Widow Nash

Jamie Harrison. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-61902-928-6

Debut novelist Harrison paints a lovely and memorable portrait of a desperate woman’s flight to a new life. In late 1904, Leda Cordelia Dulcinea Remfrey has been summoned to Seattle to attend to her dying syphilitic father, Walton. Dulcy must go, even though the summons comes from her father’s business partner and her ex-fiancé, Victor Maslingen, a man of violent rages who raped her. She is Victor’s only hope to find out what the increasingly deranged Walton has done with the profits of the sale of some African mines, money that Victor needs. After Walton’s death, as Dulcy and her sister, Carrie, travel back East to bury their father, Dulcy makes her way from the train to begin a new life in Livingston, Mont., as the Widow Maria Nash. Livingston is not without its own violence and drama, but it promises the safety of anonymity and possibly even real love. 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. (June)