According to the book jacket, this debut novel promises to be “simply one of the best novels to come along in years . . . poignant and compelling.” My opinion? The author definitely delivers on that promise; in fact, the author captivated me right away with his lyrical, almost poetic writing style. Smith proved himself to be quite a wordsmith, e.g., “At high noon on the day Adam Davis was born, it was so hot that birds fell from the trees, stunned into comas from air so thick that they could hardly breathe.” In addition, the author proved to be a master storyteller and his sensually rich scenes reminded me of James Lee Burke. In the final analysis, I suppose some might be tempted to classify Harrisville as women’s literature because of the passion and ongoing romantic tension but I happen to believe anyone who enjoys good writing will like this book
Primarily set in the WWI era (one of my favorites), Harrisville has a sort of a Steinbeck’s East of Eden flavor to it. However, instead of ultimate sibling rivalry, a love triangle provides all the tension, suspense, and ultimately—tragedy and redemption. Passionate confrontations and manipulations between two young men for the heart of a woman result in a chain of tragic events, which forever change their lives and the small town they call home. Deeply steeped in rich metaphors, and haunted with a touch of the supernatural, Harrisville will keep you up late, turning pages.
Although Harrisville is Mark Gordon Smith’s debut novel, he’s previously penned two non-fiction books: Tuscan Echoes and Tuscan Light. He currently lives in North Carolina and is working on the third volume of his Italian Trilogy. I’ve not read his non-fiction but as for Harrisville, I was thoroughly impressed. The only criticisms I can muster are minor. In a few places, I got a little confused and distracted with commingled points of view and unexplained writing shifts from past tense to present. However, Smith promises editorial corrections in future editions so I expect these minor difficulties will be attended to. Of course, the acid test of a good book is whether or not it’s difficult to put down, right? Well, I definitely had trouble putting Harrisville down.
Highly Recommended by reviewer: Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews www.allbookreviews.com
Published by: Almar Books ©2009
Hardback edition, 309 pages
Cover Price: US $23.35