The Heart in Winter

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Pub Date 6 Jun 2024 | Archive Date 6 Jun 2024

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Description

He was ready to die for love
He just needed to find the right girl


October, 1891. Butte, Montana. A hard winter approaches across the Rocky Mountains. The city is rich on copper mines and rampant with vice and debauchery among a hard-living crowd of immigrant Irish workers.

Here we find Tom Rourke, a young poet and balladmaker, but also a doper, a drinker and a fearsome degenerate. Just as he feels his life is heading nowhere fast, Polly Gillespie arrives in town as the new bride of the devout mine captain Long Anthony Harrington.

A thunderbolt love affair takes spark between Tom and Polly and they strike out west on a stolen horse, moving through the badlands of Montana and Idaho. Briefly an idyll of wild romance perfects itself. But a posse of deranged Cornish gunsmen are soon in hot pursuit of the lovers, and closing in fast . . .

The Heart in Winter is a savagely funny, achingly beautiful tale set in the Wild West.

He was ready to die for love
He just needed to find the right girl


October, 1891. Butte, Montana. A hard winter approaches across the Rocky Mountains. The city is rich on copper mines and rampant with...


Advance Praise

A GUARDIAN BOOK TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2024
A NEW STATESMAN FICTION HIGLIGHT OF 2024
AN OBSERVER FICTION TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2024
AN IRISH TIMES FICTION TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2024

‘Holy damn, it's good’
DAVID MITCHELL        

‘Kevin Barry lights out for the territory and once again comes back with a shining nugget of gold. The Heart in Winter is a glorious and haunted yarn, with all the elements – the doomed lovers, the bounty hunters, the knife-fights and whisky-soaked songs – brought to mysterious life by the heft and polish of the Barry sentence. Marvellous’
JON McGREGOR        

‘A great big rollicking ballad of a novel. A love story, and a slice of history, in a language as close to song as literature will ever get’
COLUM McCANN        

‘A haunting, hypnotic love story of two damaged souls. Barry's talent is breath-taking — he is a true original and, once again, words obey his call. This is a propulsive read from a writer at the height of his powers’
MARY COSTELLO        

‘[The Heart in Winter is] an Irish western, by turns funny and tragic, full of typically outrageous figures and sublime writing’
ALEX PRESTON, Observer

‘Such a great read, so warm and so completely engaging of the reader's feelings’
MIKE McCORMACK

A GUARDIAN BOOK TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2024
A NEW STATESMAN FICTION HIGLIGHT OF 2024
AN OBSERVER FICTION TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2024
AN IRISH TIMES FICTION TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2024

‘Holy damn, it's good’
DAVID...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781805302117
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)
PAGES 224

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Average rating from 46 members


Featured Reviews

I have previously enjoyed ‘Night Boat to Tangier’,so was delighted to get the opportunity to read an early edition of ‘The Heart in Winter’ by Kevin Barry.This time the setting is the old wild west of Montana in 1891.
Initially this is wonderful poetic prose at its best,yet the story seems quite meandering and slightly unclear.There is on first impression a depiction of a wasted life spent stumbling around, with the doomed depression of the drunken doped up exiled Irish despondent.Yet the entire population of the narrative feels based in harsh reality and beyond the compromise of pure cliches.The backdrop is painted so vividly, the landscape for what follows is truly panoramic,and sets the scene magnificently,regards time and place.
Thus when Tom Rourke and Polly Gillespie first meet up,the story really kicks into gear.The tension of temptation,passion,and trouble afoot is tangible from the start.
There follows an absorbing and at times frantic tale of lovers fleeing through a perilous environment ,pursued by those determined to destroy their dreams of a shared future in a new promised land.

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The first thing that strikes you is how beautiful the prose is - my God how it sings! Then you're drawn into this Cormac McCarthy style story - the American West, somewhat Gothic in tone, and a love story/runaway adventure between Tom Rourke and Polly Gillespie. There are some wonderful moments here, lines which you want to read twice, such poetry of language. This is highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC.

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I have read every thing that Kevin Barry has ever written so perhaps I am biased but this book is brilliant. Such life in his writing. Vitality. Feeling and emotion from living and experiences and communication. A doomed romance in his own words and like Finistere his recent story for the New Yorker it is alive to the nuances of relationships and hope and the darknesses that life offers as well as the light. ‘and wasn’t it a remarkable turn of events that showed love and death they coexist in our violent and sentimental world. They might even depend one on the other.’ Superb.

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The melting pot of the New World forming. 1891 Montana.
Work, Drink, Drugs, Violence, Sex - repeat - as the immigrant cliques from every corner of the world rub along. Fantastic use of bad language throughout!
Although a short read, it has heavy in weight & depth. Such rich language.
Tom and runaway bride Polly, are young and on the run from the henchmen set upon them by her rich husband. This exciting pursuit deep into an America rich with different languages and cultures, where nature has yet to be exploited.
A very fine work of literature, that almost sings to the reader. Highly recommended.
Thank you to NetGalley and Canongate for this advance copy in exchange for a honest review.
I enjoyed this beautiful book and think it could be a classic.

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Polly Gillespie meets Tom Rourke when she visits a photography studio with her new husband. Tom works there and falls for her. They end up running away together, being chased by bounty hunters hired by Polly’s husband.
It’s a Western love story set in Nineteenth century America and the descriptions powerfully evoke the hardships the pair of runways encounter including trying to survive through a bitter winter. There’s danger and violence but throughout it all there’s passion and tenderness between the couple and beautiful lyricism in Kevin Barry’s writing which lifts it beyond a straightforward tale of two people who risk everything for love. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review.

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