Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Freebie: The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye

Congratulations to Jane Rainey, winner of last week's Friday Freebie:  Panorama City by Antoine Wilson.

This week's book giveaway is The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye.  Just published this week by Unbridled Books, The Lighthouse Road is a novel that, as Booklist puts it, brings the wilderness of northern Minnesota "to crackling, thundering life."  Here's the plot summary of the book:
In 1895 Thea Eide leaves her arctic home in Norway for a better life in America. After a harrowing journey, she arrives in Gunflint, Minnesota, expecting to find her aunt and uncle and the life she was promised. What she finds instead is an enormous wilderness and a village full of strangers. Twenty-four years later, her son, Odd, is cobbling together a life of his own. A fisherman, boatbuilder, and bootlegger, all he wants is his fair share. When he and Rebekah Grimm, a woman as much his sister as his lover, are forced to flee Gunflint in Odd’s newly built boat, they leave behind the only world Odd has ever known. Told in alternating and parallel narratives, The Lighthouse Road explores the themes of love and family and what it means to live an honest life in a suspect world.
Benjamin Percy--who knows a thing or two about muscular sentences--had this to say about The Lighthouse Road: "Peter Geye writes with the mesmerizing power of the snowstorms that so often come howling off Lake Superior. I am in awe of how he swirls through so many years and juggles so many characters, all of them unforgettable and weighed down by secrets and regrets and desires that burn through the hoarfrost of Geye's bristling sentences."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll step out of the way and let the novel speak for itself.  Here's an excerpt from the book to give you a taste of what awaits you in its pages (I just love the last sentence of this passage):
      The Port av Kristiania arrived at her final destination in the middle of the night. Thea was sleeping in her bunk when she felt the ship’s definitive stop. She found her bags and joined the crowd and by the time she reached the main deck she was wide awake and consumed by a new awe: Kristiania—even at night, perhaps especially at night—sprawled all around her. The gas streetlamps flickered near and far, those on the yonder hillside a kind of greasy mirage that might not have been light at all, might have been only an impossible reflection. There were warehouses on the waterfront three times larger than the ship she was now stepping off. Everywhere the sounds of harbor life thrummed: the grinding and shrieking of train and trolley tracks, the clatter of horses’ hooves on the dock’s planks, the moaning of loading cranes, and above and below all of it the sound of human voices.
      Before then, Thea had never seen more than one hundred people gathered together. But even in the middle of the night there were thousands of people here. In the next slip two steamships, each twice as long as the Port av Kristiania, were loading, crowds of people tunneled into the shadowy quay. As Thea reached the gangplank, she noticed the taut ship lines crisscrossing the docks, the enormous nets hauling cargo onboard the steamships before her, and casks by the thousands ready to be loaded into ships’ holds.
      As soon as she was on the dock she was swept into a cordoned area where several nurses stood ready to examine and interrogate the passengers. One at a time they were led to tables. When it was Thea’s turn, a grim-faced woman signaled her to come forward. Thea was asked to provide her ticket for passage. The nurse confirmed the ticket against a list in her passenger log and proceeded to ask a series of twenty-nine questions.
      Aside from the routine questions regarding her final destination and place of birth and the promise of labor in America, she was also asked whether or not she was an anarchist or polygamist, if she was in any way crippled or had deformities, if she had ever been imprisoned. She spent fifteen minutes answering these and other questions, and when the interview was complete, the nurse took Thea into a curtained area and asked her to remove her cloak and hat.
      The medical examination that followed was cursory. After the nurse listened to Thea’s lungs with her stethoscope and checked her for a hunchback and diseases of the skin, she filled out a landing card and told Thea she could go aboard Thingvalla. As she ascended the steep gangplank, she could already feel the melancholy sea in the soles of her feet.

If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of The Lighthouse Road, all you have to do is email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Oct. 11at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Oct. 12.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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