News & Reviews

Our May Book of the Month

05 Jun 2024 News & Reviews
A perfectly immersive novel for devouring in a day.

The Heart in Winter is a classic Western, a tale of two love bitten vagabonds on the run with destruction and revenge  at their heel. I’m a Kevin Barry devotee, I love all his stories: City of Bohane, Night Boat to Tangier, Beatlebone; every one of them is individual, clearly defined by place and time.

This new novel is vaudevillian, with moments of bawdy abandon, scenes of shiver and fright and encounters with freaks, rascals, and monsters. Petty criminal and literary man Tom Rourke put me in mind of the rambler from Rimbaud’s poem My Bohemia:
I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets;
my overcoat too was becoming ideal;
I travelled beneath the sky,
Muse! and I was your vassal;
Tom meets a kindred spirit in the newly married Polly Gillespie. They are soon in bed, Tom creeping around the frontier town of Butte, Montana while Long Anthony Harrington is hard at it in the mines. Harrington is a masochist, a devout religious man, memorably described as “kissing and pecking at her like a nervous old hen”.
Once found out, Tom and Polly live a precipitous life on the run, pursued by Harrington’s violent headhunters. Their  fate blows in the wind as the story twists toward its conclusion, and it deepens beautifully at the very end.
Populated by wonderfully drawn characters, humorous observations and beautifully crafted writing this is one of our very favourites for 2024
I wrote to Barry to share my delight and he wrote back: “Tom bears striking similiarities to the author, back in the far distant past when he was himself 29.”  I’m glad that Barry came out of it better than Tom.
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