Stillwater

Stillwater

3.52 (968 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
3.52 (968 ratings by Goodreads)

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Description

"Rousing fun." -- MinneapolisStar Tribune

"A wonder of a novel, rich in history, humor, and heart, with prose that flows and sparkles like a sunlit river." -- Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon

"Lyrical and humorous [with] gorgeous prose . . . A rich and intricate novel full of compassion for these pioneers and the place they live." -- St. Paul Pioneer Press

Raised in the same small community, Clement and Angel, fraternal twins separated at birth, grow up in different worlds. He lives among orphans, nuns, Native Americans, prostitutes. She lives in the town mansion, dressed in taffeta skirts and dodging her mother's manic attention. Bound by a mystical connection, the twins rarely meet, but Clement knows if he is truly in need, Angel will come.

Near the Mississippi River and Canada, Stillwater becomes an important stop on the Underground Railroad. As the nation pushes boundaries, geographic and moral, and marches into civil war, the territory is at a crossroads. Clement and Angel have both learned to survive at the edge of things, but what will this new world hold for them? Will it set them free?

Stillwater is a lyrical, vibrant, often hilarious, and always unforgettable journey into our past, ourselves, and the impulses that drive us to create and explore.

"Told in a vigorous and warmly resonant prose that captures both the ridiculous and the sublime . . . A steady pleasure." -- Historical Novel Society

"Stillwater has true grit . . . Entertaining, inventive, outrageous and well-told."--MinnPost
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 142 x 211 x 23mm | 249g
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0544483901
  • 9780544483903
  • 3,022,809

Back cover copy

A wonder of a novel, rich in history, humor, and heart, with prose that flows and sparkles like a sunlit river. Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon

Lyrical and humorous [with] gorgeous prose . . . A rich and intricate novel full of compassion for these pioneers and the place they live. St. Paul Pioneer Press

Raised in the same small community, Clement and Angel, fraternal twins separated at birth, grow up in different worlds. He lives among orphans, nuns, Native Americans, prostitutes. She lives in the town mansion, dressed in taffeta skirts and dodging her mother s manic attention. Bound by a mystical connection, the twins rarely meet, but Clement knows if he is truly in need, Angel will come.

Near the Mississippi River and Canada, Stillwater becomes an important stop on the Underground Railroad. As the nation pushes boundaries, geographic and moral, and marches into civil war, the territory is at a crossroads. Clement and Angel have both learned to survive at the edge of things, but what will this new world hold for them? Will it set them free?

Stillwater is a lyrical, vibrant, often hilarious, and always unforgettable journey into our past, ourselves, and the impulses that drive us to create and explore.

Told in a vigorous and warmly resonant prose that captures both the ridiculous and the sublime . . . A steady pleasure. Historical Novel Society

Stillwater has true grit . . . Entertaining, inventive, outrageous and well-told. MinnPost

Nicole Helget s previous novel, The Turtle Catcher, was a winner of the Tamarack Prize. Her memoir, The Summer of Ordinary Ways, was a People Critics Choice pick. She has been heralded as the most promising Minnesota writer in a generation by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and as a remarkable storytelling talent by the Seattle Times. Helget lives, teaches, and writes in Mankato, Minnesota.

Author photograph (c) Jason Miller, Franchise Graphics and Photography"
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Review quote

"Set on the Minnesota frontier, in the river town that eventually became the home of the state prison, this novel focuses on the intertwined lives of various settlers, Native Americans, escaped slaves, and orphans. They include twins Angel and Clement, who are separated by Angel's adoption into a prominent family but connected by a psychic link; Mother St. John and Father Paul, who run an orphanage that also serves as a stop on the Underground Railroad; and trapper and bounty hunter Beaver Jean and his two Native American wives. As the narrative unfolds, we see the evolution of an unsettled territory into statehood, the growth of the timber industry, the uneasy relations with Native Americans, and Minnesota's role in the Civil War. VERDICT The novel often has a gothic feel, with madwomen, poisonings, and dead babies. But there is also an undercurrent of black humor, particularly in the portrayal of Beaver Jean, who is reprehensible but also a delightful comic creation...[Helget's] research has provided copious fascinating detail that she interweaves with her intriguing tale." -- Library Journal "Helget's tale of frontier life in the territory of Minnesota gives stark meaning to the term 'woebegone.'...this novel effectively dramatizes the seismic sociological shifts that shaped the American Midwest." -- Kirkus "Helget's colorful cast struggles against an 'every man for himself' frontier mentality: from a set of orphaned, separated twins named Clement and Angel; to their biological father, a ne'er-do-well fur-trapper named Beaver Jean; to Angel's nervous, abusive adoptive mother in her fine taffeta skirts; to the nuns and priests and native Americans and escaped slaves who fill out the titular town of Stillwater. The question of whether they will--or won't--take the risks to help each other survive gives the story some tension, but Helget's lyricism is what elevates it"
--Publishers Weekly "Make room, Louise Erdrich, Minnesota has a new resident scribe, and her name is Nicole Helget. Stillwater is that rare historical novel that shines as much light forward as it does back. In prose that shimmers, Helget tells the story of orphans and runaway slaves, do-gooders and do-badders, gentle nuns and randy old coots, each of whom damn near leaps off the page, reminding us of who we are now. Rascally and robust, saucy and sincere and serious as a logjam, Stillwater is celebration of this country's coming of age from a writer staking her claim to greatness."
--Peter Geye, author of Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road

"A wonder of a novel, rich in history, humor and heart, with prose that flows and sparkles like a sunlit river."
--Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon and The Wilding

"Stillwater is a stunning achievement. Helget brings her keen sense for Southern Gothic to, of all places, the Northwoods of Minnesota. A fascinating story of a frontier logging town, this novel boasts a remarkable assortment of characters--Indians, slaves, trappers, missionaries, mothers and lost children--all caught up in the crosscurrents of American history. A highly touching and believable tale."
--Jonathan Odell, author of The Healing --
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About Nicole Lea Helget

NICOLE HELGET received her BA and MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her memoir, The Summer of Ordinary Ways, was a People Critics' Choice pick. She lives and writes in Saint Peter, Minnesota.
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Rating details

968 ratings
3.52 out of 5 stars
5 16% (156)
4 36% (347)
3 35% (341)
2 10% (96)
1 3% (28)
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