Hi, everyone! Today I'm part of the TLC book tour for Brian Hart's The Bully of Order.
Here's the official description of the book:
Washington Territory, 1886
Jacob and Nell Ellstrom step from ship to shore and are struck dumb by the sight of their new home—the Harbor, a ragged township of mud streets and windowless shacks. In the years to come this will be known as one of the busiest and most dangerous ports in the world, and with Jacob’s station as the only town physician, prosperity and respect soon rain down on the Ellstroms. Then their son, Duncan, is born, and these are grand days, busy and full of growth. But when a new physician arrives, Jacob is revealed as an impostor, a fraud, and he flees, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.
Years later, on a fated Fourth of July picnic, Duncan Ellstrom falls in love. Her name is Teresa Boyerton, and her father owns the largest sawmill in the Harbor. Their relationship is forbidden by class and by circumstance, because without Jacob there to guide him, Duncan has gone to work for Hank Bellhouse, the local crime boss. Now, if Duncan wants to be with Teresa, he must face not only his past, but the realities of a dark and violent world and his place within it.
Told from various points of view, Brian Hart’s novel follows the evolution of the Harbor from a mudstamp outpost to a city that rivals the promise of San Francisco. The Bully of Order is a meditation on progress, love, and identity; a spellbinding novel of fate and redemption—told with a muscular lyricism and filled with a cast of characters Shakespearean in scope—where everyone is as much at the mercy of the weather as they are of the times.
Readers, I don't mean to look like I'm phoning it in for this review but I honestly just didn't hit it off with this one. I started it. I started it over. I thumbed through and skimmed it. I read other reviews and I started once again. By this point I think I harbored some serious resentment towards The Bully of Order! Some have pointed out that the author's style takes some getting used to but I never was able to get the hang of it. Instead I slogged through, page by page, wishing and hoping that I'd be able to come to some sort of compromise with the book - or that it would just wear me down - and hoping that it would pick up. It never did.
This is an incredibly bleak book. The author's style leans towards clipped sentences and something close to stream of consciousness narration on the part of the characters (close to, but not exactly - either way it made it difficult to follow).
I should point out that there are some quite nice reviews of this book. I should further point out that the author's style isn't bad but was something I simply couldn't wrap my brain around at this point in time.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Brian Hart and his work, you can visit his website here.