The Western Wind
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.
"Startling and energising . . . Early in the year though it is, this must surely be in the running for one of its best novels." -- Alex Clarke * Spectator * "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." -- James Walton * Daily Telegraph * "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." -- Melissa Harrison * Financial Times * "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. *****" -- Eithne Farry * Express * "The Western Wind is an extraordinary, wise, wild and beautiful book - a thrilling mystery story and a lyrical enquiry into ideas of certainty and belief. Surprising, richly imagined, gloriously strange - the best kind of fiction." -- Joanna Kavenna "Harvey is up there with the best writers working today. Here she makes the medieval world feel as relevant and pressing as tomorrow morning because - as always - she captures the immutable stuff of the human condition." -- Nathan Filer "Set in the 1400s but never feeling dusty or distant, this astonishing book is at once a rollicking mystery and a profound meditation on faith and existence." -- Alex Preston * Observer **The Best Fiction for 2018** * "This is a real winner for lovers of intelligent historical fiction, a pleasure to read and original. If you like the idea of a contemplative medieval murder mystery, an apparently meandering tale that actually is always on point, this is for you. The Western Wind is beautifully alive with period detail and re-imagined rustic life. Yet, it feels very modern because the themes are universal and current. The world that Harvey has created is vivid, earthy, dark, mysterious, superstitious and wondrous. The story intelligent, well plotted, thought provoking and very human. The prose is silky, light and enveloping. All in all, a treat." -- Paul Burke * Nudge * "Hats off to Samantha Harvey . . . an unusual and absorbing novel." -- Max Davidson * Mail on Sunday **The Best New Fiction** * "[Harvey's] prose is as rich as ever, her structures clever and efficient . . . we daren't put the book down ... it's a historical novel full of the liveliness and gristle of the period it depicts; an absorbing mystery with an unpredictable flurry of twists in its last few pages; a scarily nuanced examination of a long-term moral collapse; a beautifully conceived and entangled metaphor for Britain's shifting relationships with Europe. But most of all it's a deeply human novel of the grace to be found in people." -- M John Harrison * Guardian * "In this highly anticipated 15th-century murder mystery . . . Harvey is superb at conjuring up a community mired in backwardness. She has an eye for poetic, distinctive description, and there are plenty of memorable set pieces." -- Francesca Angelini * Sunday Times * "The truly extraordinary thing about this novel is the way Harvey recreates the mindset and beliefs of the medieval world, and makes the concerns of 500 years ago vivid and immediate." -- Alice O'Keefe * Bookseller **Book of the Month** * "Darkly atmospheric . . . Beautifully and evocatively written, clever in structure, and decidedly unusual . . . a novel that will surely feature on prize shortlists." -- Allan Massie * Scotsman * "Comparisons with Jim Crace's Harvest or Hilary Mantel's Tudor novels stand . . . There is a feeling that [The Western Wind] could establish Harvey as a commercial, as well as literary, contender." -- Patricia Nicol * Sunday Times * "Harvey isn't afraid to end a chapter with a jolt of drama . . . As tension mounts towards the final (or first) act, it's hard not to be riveted." -- Anthony Cummins * Observer * "A gripping mystery." -- Saskia Murphy * Big Issue * "The questions of faith and the purpose of humanity raised in this bold, impressive and lustrously written reimagining of a past world are as important as the solving of the crime." * Daily Mail * "Samantha Harvey's brooding historical mystery The Western Wind . . . is rich in both local and historical detail; the novel powerfully conveys the murky atmosphere of Oakham . . . [Reve's] moral path is as muddy as the tracks down to the river." -- Rohan Maitzen * Times Literary Supplement * "Blending human interest with ecclesiastical "realpolitik", this is a riveting portrait of a "community in the grip of secrecy." * The Week * "This medieval whodunnit evokes the rural past with skill . . . shares common ground with Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent and Andrew Michal Hurley's The Loney." -- Laura Freeman * The Times *