**SHORTLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE 2019**
15th century Oakham, in Somerset; a tiny village cut off by a big river with no bridge. When a man is swept away by the river in the early hours of Shrove Saturday, an explanation has to be found: accident, suicide or murder? The village priest, John Reve, is privy to many secrets in his role as confessor. But will he be able to unravel what happened to the victim, Thomas Newman, the wealthiest, most capable and industrious man in the village? And what will happen if he can’t?
Moving back in time towards the moment of Thomas Newman’s death, the story is related by Reve – an extraordinary creation, a patient shepherd to his wayward flock, and a man with secrets of his own to keep. Through his eyes, and his indelible voice, Harvey creates a medieval world entirely tangible in its immediacy.
My Ancient Mariner novel, the book I’m destined to traipse around fervently pressing into people’s hands . . . [The Western Wind is a] breathtaking exploration of guilt, communal and individual, secrecy and power . . . It made me gasp, and when I’d finished it, I started it again.
Beautifully rendered, deeply affecting, thoroughly thoughtful
A rich and sumptuous delight . . . Even the most glowing reviews of [Samantha Harvey's] work have tended to be accompanied by a rueful acknowledgement of how underrated she is. The Western Wind will surely mean that she’s not underrated anymore.
A wonderful creation . . . less like reading a novel and more akin to time travel — something I’ve only previously encountered in the work of Hilary Mantel.
So ingenious in its plotting and characterisation that it begs to be read twice – the second reading a confirmation of what is slowly, tantalisingly revealed in the first. *****