Synopses & Reviews
Lauren Keller had left Wisconsin to become a doctor in Africa, where she excelled in medicine and failed at love. Her broken heart sends her reeling back to her hometown, where she establishes herself as a cashier at the local diner, determined to cut herself off from career, friendship or romance.
Ben Hanson has made some big mistakes in his young life, but he returns to his hometown hoping for a chance to change and leave behind the mess he made. Once back in Wisconsin, he soon learns that he's not the only one with secrets to escape; his family is still fractured, unable to uncover or admit the truth behind his cousin's death a decade earlier.
As Ben tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding his cousin's death, and as Lauren cautiously starts to explore the world outside the diner's door, their paths intersect. Damaged, searching, each could be exactly what the other needs. But secrets and wounds are hard to hide, and harder still to overcome. A compelling family drama, and a sweet and surprising love story, THIS BRIGHT RIVER confirms Patrick Somerville's status as one of the most exciting young writers at work today.
"The ambitious, stylish second novel from Somerville (after The Cradle) is set in the fictitious small town of St. Helens, Wis., and along the Bright River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Ben Hanson, 32, is back home after his release from a white-collar, 'pansy' prison near Portland, Ore., where he served a 14-month sentence for arson. Recovering from heroin and alcohol addiction, he reconciles with his affluent parents and older sister, Haley, and reconnects with a high school friend, Lauren Sheehan, a troubled divorcÃ©e and doctor recently returned to St. Helens. The emotionally damaged pair fall in love; Ben tries to solve his cousin Wayne's mysterious death at the family cabin in Michigan; and Lauren fends off Dr. Will Besco, her wildly possessive ex, who has recently remarried. The ample use of backstory paints Will as an abusive husband, and Wayne as an impulsive addict, both things complicating the quests being undertaken together by Ben and Lauren. Things escalate to a violent climax, and a somewhat rambling wrapup finally reveals all the Hanson family's dark secrets. Agent: Brettne Bloom, Kneerim & Williams. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
PRAISE FOR THIS BRIGHT RIVER:
"Ingenious, dark, thrilling and heartbreaking, This Bright River contains prose that will tempt you to linger on the page and a plot that simply won't let you. Just fantastic."--Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
PRAISE FOR THIS BRIGHT RIVER
"Serpentine and hypnotic, This Bright River depicts two vivid characters knocked hard by life, on a perilous journey that reveals the weight and pull of family history. The result is a novel that is both intimate and mysterious, harrowing and brave."--Megan Abbott, author of The End of Everything and Dare Me
"This Bright River is a flood of virtuoso prose and characterization. Mystery, memory, pain, and a courageous strand of love are interwoven in a riveting narrative of voices, all singing, all merging into the singular vision of one of American literature's young masters."--Nic Pizzolatto, author of Galveston
"This Bright River is nothing short of extraordinary. Somerville has a gift for writing gorgeous prose, complete with sharp humor and a perfect sense of place. But that's only half the story. There's also a great romance here and a shocking set of mysteries that get untangled along the way. Addictive, amazing, unforgettable."--J. Courtney Sullivan, bestselling author of Maine
Each paragraph has at least one striking or hilarious line. Every few pages manage to bear the full weight of a short story. Dialogue snaps with a bizarre aptness reminiscent of Denis Johnson, and the novel in total presents a coiled, deeply sensitive intelligence....Go buy this book.--The Daily Beast
If there's a middle ground between the pot-boiling, page-turning mystery and the novel of Big Ideas, Patrick Somerville has found it. "This Bright River," his second novel, is a serious literary tragedy of errors that also tells a gripping story.... The extent of Somerville's control over his narrative becomes apparent when the novel's back stories and present goings-on finally converge at that cabin in the wilderness. The slow revelation of a host of family secrets is handled so deftly you won't even mind getting sand in your Kindle.--Andrew Ervin, The New York Times Book Review
A compelling story of young love and old secrets
Lauren Sheehan's career in medicine came to a halt after a chain of violent events abroad. Now she's back in the safest place she knows-St. Helens, Wisconsin-cut off from career, friendship, and romance.
Ben Hanson's aimless young life has bottomed out after a series of bad decisions, but a surprising offer from his father draws him home for what looks like his final second chance. In Wisconsin, he finds his family fractured, still unable to face the truth behind his troubled cousin's death a decade earlier.
As Lauren cautiously expands her horizons and Ben wrestles with his regrets and mistakes, their paths intersect. Could each be exactly what the other needs? Or the last thing in the world either one can handle?
The weight of secrets, the price of success, and the cost of love all linger at the heart of this surprising, unsettling, deeply satisfying novel. Rich with the dark humor and piercing intelligence that made The Cradle so beloved, This Bright River confirms Somerville's status as one of the most engaging and daring young writers at work today.
A compelling story of young love and old secrets
Ben Hanson's aimless life has bottomed out after a series of bad decisions, but an unexpected offer from his father draws him home to Wisconsin. There, he finds his family fractured, still reeling from his cousin's mysterious death a decade earlier.
Lauren Sheehan abandoned her career in medicine after a series of violent events abroad. Now she's back in the safest place she knows -- the same small Wisconsin town where she and Ben grew up -- hiding from a world that has only brought her heartache.
As Lauren cautiously expands her horizons and Ben tries to unravel his family's dark secrets, their paths intersect. Could each be exactly what the other needs?
A compelling family drama and a surprising love story, This Bright River is the work of a natural storyteller, one whose dark humor and piercing intelligence provide constant, lasting delights.
About the Author
Patrick Somerville grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and later earned his MFA from Cornell University. He is the author of the story collections Trouble and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, and the novel The Cradle. He lives with his wife and son in Chicago, where he teaches creative writing at Northwestern University.