Title/Author: Inland by Téa Obreht
Publisher: Random House
In a nutshell: In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.
Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Lurie’s death-defying trek at last intersects with Nora’s plight is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.
Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely—and unforgettably—her own.
Verdict: For lovers of magical realism and the American West!
Firstly, Happy Publication Day!
I know I said I’d never read Western. But I finally did. Because Obreht. Yup. Her writing captivated me in The Tiger’s Wife, so I was excited about Inland.
Ok. So, on my first attempt, I just couldn’t get into the story. But once again, it’s her way with words that I decided to give it another try. And I was sure glad I did. Second attempt was much better.
This novel was set in the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893. It revolved around Nora, an indomitable frontierswoman, who was waiting for the return of her husband who had gone in search of water and her sons who had left home after a rowdy dispute; and Lurie, an outlaw escaping from the authorities, turned cameleer for the Camel Corp.
Their stories were told in different times – Nora’s took place over one day, Lurie’s over decades. I truly enjoyed reading both of their stories, while seeing how they both ‘connect’ from two different timelines, and anticipating how they were ever going to meet. It seemed almost impossible, until the story reached its finale. I was blown away. Obreht is truly a genius.
And that canteen...wow.. The canteen that held the water that held the past, the future, hopes, dreams, and fears. Lurie and Nora couldn’t seem to let go of the past, although Lurie seemed to be making an attempt by moving farther away from it, and not letting the voices of his dead loved ones drown his thoughts; while Nora was trying hard to keep the memories of her daughter alive and continued to talk to her everyday, and did not want to move from Amargo, where she and her husband had started their family, no matter the circumstances.
My take? It felt almost as though Lurie was meant to make this journey for that tin canteen to be handed over to Nora, to give her hope and the strength that she needed, to move on.
If you plan to read this, step away from all distractions, clear your mind, take a deep breath, then dive in. If you’re reading this because you enjoyed The Tiger’s Wife, all I can say is just don’t expect the level of magical elements from her debut to be present here.
That said, I’d only recommend this to those who enjoy reading American Western, magical realism and (very) slow-paced, yet beautifully written novels.
Thank you #Netgalley and #RandomHouse for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I’m looking forward to meeting her at the Decatur Book Festival this year!
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Are you a fan of magical realism? Please share with me your thoughts!
Last but not least, thank you for stopping by and may the power of good books be with you always!