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Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolutionby Patrick McGrath
Synopses & Reviews
When Ambrose Tree is summoned by his ancient uncle to the brooding mansion Drogo Hall, he suspects it's to hear the old man's dying words and then collect a sizable inheritance. He has no idea he is about to learn the bizarre story of Harry Peake, Cornish smuggler turned poet who became a monster capable of the most horrifying acts. Or that he's about to become psychologically enmeshed in the riveting life of Harry's daughter, Martha, who flees her father for colonial America where she becomes a heroic figure in the revolution against England. Or that he himself has a crucial role to play in this mesmerizing tale as it rushes headlong and hauntingly toward its powerful climax. Martha Peake is a spellbinding alloy of Gothic mystery and historical romance.
"[S]weeping....McGrath takes a big risk, but the result is an invigorating take on the Revolution, just the tonic for even the most jaded reader during this election season." Publishers Weekly
"[A] tale both as seductively fascinating and as ungainly as its boldly imagined antihero....Ferociously imagined, intensely atmospheric, often powerfully compelling..." Kirkus Reviews
"[U]nputdownable...[it] wraps a Gothic romance around a historical narrative....McGrath's narrative gift overwhelms [some small] uncertainties and a few larger improbabilities....It's a book well worth reading." Robert Wilson, The Washington Post Book World
"Unusual in its method and unsettling in its focus....[There are] remarkable passages of sustained dramatic and atmospheric writing in which the mannered exaggerations of the style are entirely appropriate....An uneven novel, but it has rare qualities of power and urgency." Barry Unsworth, The New York Times Book Review
"A novel that follows gothic conventions and stereotypes only to turn them on their heads in the end, Peake's tale will consume readers as much as it does Ambrose." Kristine Huntley, Booklist
"The book is never less than a gripping story....One of the virtues of the novel...is that Martha Peake's life comes across as heroic and remarkable...the book is as much a good yarn as an anti-yarn." Peter Swaab, Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)
"A sweeping mytho-historical novel par excellence..." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Although entertaining, the novel's tricks and manipulations become a bit tedious, with a less-than-surprising conclusion that makes for a not especially satisfying read." Library Journal
"An uncommon storyteller....McGrath demonstrates his trademark ability to probe the layers of the human psyche." San Francisco Chronicle
From the desolate wharves of London to the wild stretches of the New World, master storyteller McGrath maps out a vast saga of revolt and renewal — the story of one sublime heroine, but also of the birth of America. A New York Times Notable Book.
About the Author
Patrick McGrath was born in London and grew up near Broadmoor Hospital, where for many years his father was medical superintendent. He is the author of Blood and Water and Other Tales, The Grotesque, Spider, and Dr. Haggard's Disease, and he was the co-editor, with Bradford Morrow, of The New Gothic. He lives in New York City and London, and is married to actress Maria Aitken.
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