Tuesday, April 24, 2018

West by Carys Davies


John Cyrus Bellman left his Lewiston, PA farm and his only child to embark on a quest into the west. He knew he would be gone at least two years. Was he a fool, like his sister judged, or romantic and adventurous, as he appeared to his daughter Bess? 

Bellman's desire to see undiscovered country was rooted in a longing to find the living creatures whose huge bones had been discovered in Kentucky. He had already crossed an ocean, from England to America, built a farm, had a child, and lost a wife. But the West beckoned with its mysteries and he could no longer stay put.

Bellman studied the Lewis and Clark Expedition maps at the subscription library. His plan was to follow their trail...but to diverge into the vast spaces they had left unstudied. He was certain he would find the mammoth creatures alive. He packed up trading items and set off on his journey, leaving his daughter and farm to his sister's care.

Carys Davies novel West takes readers across hostile landscapes both wild and settled. As Bellman faces cruel winters and lean seasons, accompanied only by a Native American boy, back in Lewistown his daughter Bess survives in an isolated land without parental love or friends. Bess dreams of her father's travels, longing to see the library maps herself. And, unprotected in the world, as Bess nears puberty, men watch her and wait and scheme.

Bellman's decision to go on his journey seemed to me at once a quest and an escape, resulting in a "night sea journey" recognition of what he had given up in leaving his known world. He struggles with the choices he made, realizing that sometimes we set our mind on what seems important only to realize we have been mistaken in our values.

The novel is beautifully written. 

I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

West
by Cays Davies
April 24, 2018
Scribner
ISBN 9781501179341, 1501179349
Hardcover $22.00 USD