The Wind Is Not a River

The Wind Is Not a River

3.73 (3,326 ratings by Goodreads)
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A stunning tale of love and survival against all odds, for fans of Cold Mountain

April 1943. In the bloody turmoil of war, John Easley, a journalist mourning his lost brother, is driven to expose a hidden and growing conflict: the Japanese invasion and occupation of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. But when his plane is shot down he must either surrender or struggle to survive in a harsh wilderness.
Three thousand miles to the south, Helen Easley cannot accept her husband's disappearance-an absence that exposes her sheltered, untested life. Desperate to find and be reunited with him, she sets out on a remarkable journey from the safety of her Seattle home to the war in the north.
An evocative, richly atmospheric tale of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River, perfect for fans of Cold Mountain, is a gripping story of survival that illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love.

'Beautifully written, lyrical and elegiac, The Wind Is Not A River is a novel you must read . . . John Easley's struggle to survive and his wife Helen's struggle to find him form the most triumphant and heartbreaking love story I've read in years' David Vann, author of LEGEND OF A SUICIDE
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 143 x 223 x 33mm | 453g
  • Mantle
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main Market Ed
  • 1447242211
  • 9781447242215

Review quote

Extremely well written . . . compelling and surprising . . . The Wind is Not a River is a powerful, engaging book. Throughout, Payton's writing is exceptional: lyrical in its descriptions of beauty or memories of a better time, and hauntingly stark in its depictions of the horrors of war. It is both a war story that condemns war and a love story that shows how love may be the only thing that can redeem the terrible consequences of war. * Vancouver Sun * Using the turmoil of a bloody military clash and a wild landscape notorious for its heavy rainfall and chilly fogs, Canadian author Brian Payton weaves a rich and evocative tale of life and death, love and faith, determination and resilience . . . Heartbreaking and yet inspirational in its moving depiction of the indomitable nature of the human spirit, The Wind Is Not a River explores how war impacts on ordinary people and the extraordinary sacrifices they are prepared to make. Using spare prose and understated pathos, Payton conveys the brutality, isolation and suffering of war whilst delivering a memorable romance and a thrilling, action-packed adventure. This is an emotionally powerful and resonant story packed with painstaking research, a fascinating slice of little-known American history and an intimate portrait of how people cope under intolerable pressure... and how far they will go for love. * Lancashire Evening Post * An epic war story . . . powerful . . . The pages of this book practically turn themselves . . . By turns greathearted and grim, The Wind Is Not a River probes the reasons for, and the consequences of, the human practice of war... this story may haunt you long after you've put the book down. * Seattle Times * A beautifully written love story and an engrossing adventure tale that takes place on the Aleutian islands, a chain of 71 volcanic islands extending west from mainland Alaska . . . Payton is a strong emerging talent on the Canadian literary landscape. The Wind is Not a River will have readers rooting for the lovers, even as it moves them to tears. * Toronto Star * Thoughtful, meticulously observed . . . Payton is merciless with his readers - he brings Helen and Easley tantalizingly close, again and again, only to have them miss - but quite tender with his characters. "Some men," Easley muses, staring at the bleak, gray Aleutian horizon, "have the great misfortune to stand at life's continental divide and see that the land beyond is barren. There is no hope of turning back. What does one do with this view?" The answer comes soon enough. Some men - Easley - do find reason for hope, and still others - author Payton now chief among them - find enormous if shattering beauty in the forbidding view the Aleutians afford. * Washington Independent Review of Books * Powerful . . . Payton keeps his prose taut so that nothing diverts the reader from the suspense of Easley and his compatriot's struggle to stay alive. You can hardly ask for a more gripping novelistic scenario. * National Post, Canada * Payton has written a suspenseful, beautifully researched title that readers will want to devour in one sitting . . . Bravo! * Library Journal * `What a great-hearted, beautifully written, and utterly riveting novel. The Wind Is Not a River has a power that brings to mind the old Greek stories of war, love, and journey' Ron Rash `This top-notch WWII historical novel from Vancouver-based writer Payton involves the little-remembered Japanese invasion and partial occupation of Alaska's Aleutian Islands . . . Payton has delivered a richly detailed, vividly resonant chronicle of war's effect on ordinary people's lives' Publishers Weekly `The Wind Is Not a River is a harrowing, beautiful book. Whether Payton is describing a journalist's bleak ordeals of survival in the Japanese-held Aleutian Islands or a USO showgirl's efforts to sing an unfamiliar tune, his taut, economic prose establishes a compelling intimacy with his subjects. On the bookshelf of World War II novels, Payton's can sit confidently beside Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead' David Macfarlane, author of Summer Gone `Part adventure tale, part love story, this beautifully written novel offers a moving portrait of a couple whose lives are forever changed by the only battle of WWII to take place on American soil . . . Payton, in the loveliest of prose, illuminates a little-known aspect of WWII while portraying a devoted couple who bravely face down the isolation, pain, and sacrifice of wartime' Booklist `Payton knows how the brutality and horror of war scar the human spirit and the power and tenderness of love sustain it. In this lyric and deeply moving novel, he connects the two with imagination and brio. The Wind Is Not a River is a heart-stopping, heart-rending read' Ellen Feldman, Orange Prize shortlisted author of Scotsboro, Next to Love and The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank During World War II, American soldiers stationed in the remote, windswept archipelago stretching for 1,100 miles west of the Alaskan mainland fought a secret war against Japanese invaders . . . In his gripping, meditative novel, Brian Payton explores this nearly forgotten chapter of American history . . . Stranded on Attu with the only other survivor of the crash, a young airman from Texas, [Easley] faces frostbite and starvation, not to mention the threat of capture by Japanese patrols . . .The borders between ingenuity and insanity, honor and murder, all blur as Easley comes face to face with the darkest parts of human nature in a place where "thin fog softens every edge and line." As the story opens out from Easley's desperate struggle for survival, Payton's larger theme emerges: People do what they have to do to survive, but what do they survive for? An act of kindness may be rewarded with death; inside every victory lies defeat. Sometimes circumstances force us to reimagine who we are and what we're capable of doing. * New York Times * A haunting love story . . . engaging and unsettling . . . The novel vividly describes the Aleutians, an 1,100-mile-long chain of islands, that, Payton writes, 'dares to separate the North Pacific from the Bering Sea' . . . Payton writes some lovely sentences . . . The novel doesn't romanticize war. It emphasizes the brutality and utter confusion of battle. It also weaves in what happens to the native Aleutians - who call themselves Unangan, or 'original people' - forced by the U.S military into internment camps. Readers will be propelled by a desire to find out what happens to John and Helen. Be prepared for an unexpected twist. Along the way, readers will learn not just about a fascinating and largely forgotten slice of American history, but what it felt like to live through it. * USA Today * Harrowing . . . moving and evocative novel. A breathtaking evocation of landscape is coupled with a compassionate exploration of the human heart. * Daily Mail * Perfect storm of a wartime love story... The historical background of The Wind Is Not a River is well done; Payton has trained a spotlight on an obscure and not very creditable episode of US history, revealing the shabby treatment of the native Aleuts . . . written with beautiful clarity and feeling. It cries out to be a black and white 1940's movie, with a swirling score and Gary Cooper and Joan Fontaine in the leading role. * The Times * This is sweeping epic romance, wartorn drama: think Cold Mountain, think The English Patient . . . * Radio 2, Claudia Winkleman show *
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About Brian Payton

Brian Payton has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Boston Globe. He lives with his wife in Vancouver.
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Rating details

3,326 ratings
3.73 out of 5 stars
5 21% (691)
4 42% (1,401)
3 29% (950)
2 7% (217)
1 2% (67)
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