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The Fugitive Wife

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  364 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
A sweeping narrative, set in gold-prospecting Alaska, where ambition, adventure, and romance collide--and the usual rules are forgotten.
The year is 1900. Fleeing from a stormy marriage, Essie, a Midwestern farm girl, joins up with prospectors bound for Nome, where the golden sands teem with dreamers, schemers, and high rollers. Feisty and resourceful, Essie soon makes mon
Hardcover, 412 pages
Published January 23rd 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2006)
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I struggled with this. It was good - but the language seemed a bit flowery - like the author was trying to sound upity.
It read like a story about a woman that was written by a man - a bit of a stretch. Interesting - but a bit lacking in historical information to be a historical novel and missing in romance to be a romance.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book- well researched, beautifully written. The characters think, act, and speak like people of their time, and the story unfolds with an emotional richness and compelling detail that invites the reader into a complicated and non-romanticized past.
Aug 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006
I had a difficult time slogging through this book. Overall I didn't enjoy the characters or feel their plights.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My kind of historical fiction: adventure, conflicted attachment, and the opportunity to be in a place and time I have an interest in due to my genealogical research. "Fugitive Wife" covered a lot of ground in that regard. Other reviewers thought the start was 'slow' but I loved experiencing the richness and deprivations of Minnesota farming at the turn of the century. Nana grew up in such a place and her Dad ended up selling off and moving to California. Then there is the gold rush in Alaska. Th ...more
Jennifer Creighton
Often books by men written in a woman's voice don't ring true, but this one did. His descriptions of character and place are evocative - I got cold reading about prospecting in Alaska and the short, cold and wet season the men had to do the work. The relationships between characters grows naturally and the author's word choices make it all come to life.
Nick Nelson
Jun 26, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home
Abandoned it :/
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my thing
Shin Machine
Sep 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: none
Shelves: boring-books

--Shin's Book Review--

Title: The Fugitive Wife

Author: Peter C. Brown

Rating: 1.02 star over 5


i did not like this book.
and frankly i am wondering if anybody ever did.

i mean, this is one of those books who does not belong to any genre at all (
in a bad way. i mean, The Wind-Up Chronicle cant be put in a single genre, yet i found it amazing)
this, i think, is NOT a romance novel (not romantic at all. except the love scenes. and the way Essie contemplated over Leonard'

Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this novel. It's interesting for me to see that reviews and ratings of this book are all over the map.

The Fugitive Wife started out slow (the first 40 or so pages), and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it. However, as Essie's and Leonard's background stories are told and the plot in Nome develops, the story becomes very engaging. I loved the diverse cast of characters, and appreciated that they were all complex. (view spoiler)
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My local library featured a display of books associated with Jack London, wolves, Alaska and etc. during its "Big Read" campaign and the title and cover of this book caught my attention. I picked it up and read the blurb and decided to give it a shot.

I really enjoyed the novel and I would recommend it. I immediately liked the main male character, Nate, from the start and I also liked the main female character, Essie. The only negative thing I have to say about it is I always hate it when I'm rea
Annette LeBox
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
The Fugitive Wife
Unforgettable characters, adventure, and powerful symbolism makes The Fugitive Wife a must read. Although the story is slow to start, after about fifty pages, I found the book impossible to put down. You’ll never forget Essie, the farm girl from the American Midwest, who flees to Alaska to escape from her creepy husband, Leonard, who comes after her. When she finds herself attracted to Nate Deacon, she must choose between what she considers her duty as Leonard’s wife, and her l
Jul 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
really struggled to get into The Fugitive Wife, the story of one woman’s journey to gold-mining Nome, Alaska to escape her abusive husband, Leonard, after the death of their son, Gabriel. The novel is divided into four sections with the first discussing the trail to Nome, the second Essie’s son, the third about Leonard’s journey to Nome, and the fourth the end to this very weak story. It’s a very slow read, and a difficult one to slog through at that.

The story does pick up once The Fugitive Wif
Jul 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one started out slowly for me and I wasn't sure I'd like it, but after the first couple of chapters I was hooked. I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, but something about the settings in this book was very appealing to me - the stark Midwest, Alaska - neither of which was made very attractive by the author. The main character, Esther, is strong and brave, and it's impossible not to care what happens to her. The dialogue in the first 3/4 of the book was very annoying - abbreviated senten ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I made it through. And during the second reading I actually was able to get into the story. I was able to picture the farms surrounded by woods, the 1900 look of Seattle's waterfront, and imagine the vastness (and dirtiness) of Nome as a mining town thrown together.
I enjoyed the story of it. It was written about so many things I was unfamiliar with, so I found myself skimming some of the pages. This woman, Esther, head strong and intelligent got sucked into a life that changed when her husbands
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-bytes
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, thought it was a great story and the author created really likable characters. The setting was particularly well drawn, her description of Essie's first glimpse of Nome was perfect
a “jumble of white rectangles spilled down the coast like cubed sugar, crawling with life” A perfect setting for someone tough and tenacious like Essie.

The dilemmas faced by Essie near the end seemed real to me and I like the way the author let her resolve them : real life is complicate
Aug 05, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An outline of this story would be interesting. The characters began with potential but didn't really take off. It was as if the author were trying to add the unknown details but couldn't quite imagine them fully, and the story/characters lack because of it. The note at the end tells that the story is based on family history and shows that the time and place were well researched, both of which add some historical significance. However, the story itself -people looking for meaning, love, place- wa ...more
Oct 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We recently traveled to Alaska so when I picked up this book about Nome, it sparked my interest. I was surprised at how much I liked it and how well written it is. I'd never heard of the author before and discovered that this is his first work of fiction. It's really a love story following the protagonist as she leaves her husband in the "lower 48" and signs up with a gold mining company headed for Nome in 1900. It describes the tough life miners had and how few of them actually found a signific ...more
Apr 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the first 1/3 of this book interesting and the last 1/3 was great but the middle focused so much on her husband - who is just a gross character - that it kind of dragged the book down for me. I really liked the book and the main character was so great. I really want to give the book four stars because it was interesting and a good read and I can't stop thinking about it, but that middle part of the book was disappointing.
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
In 1900, north MN farm wife leaves a disappointing marriage to go live in Washington state with her sister. Instead, she winds up on a freighter bound for Alaska and the Gold Rush. Interesting character studies of both the husband and wife outlining their strengths and weaknesses. Leaves you never liking the husband but not hating him and rooting for her but angry with her decisions and sense of duty.
Sep 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked Esther's story the best. I think the novel would have been stronger focusing only on her and not telling the other points of view. We got just as good a picture of the other characters from Esther's point of view. weak ending. started slow with all kinds of junk about setting out for Alaska. got better when the author started focusing on the characters. Then he could throw in all the historical detail he wanted without it getting in the way as it sometimes did.
Kayla Tornello
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I loved the different settings in this story. Esther, the main character, starts out life on a Minnesota farm at the turn of the century. Then she ends up running away from her life with the gold miners heading to Alaska. The details of early Alaskan gold mining were fascinating.

Other than Esther, the characters weren't particularly well-developed, but I was able to overlook that in my enjoyment of the setting.
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written novel about a woman who leaves her Minnesota home to head west and ends up in Alaska during the gold rush days. She cares for the horses and delivers mail and supplies to the miners as she discovers providing these services is more lucrative than gold mining. It's a story of leaving the past to build a new future, until the past returns and demands a final accounting. Wonderful details about Alaska and the lives of those who sought riches during the gold rush years.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-usa-canada
This is an unusual story of a woman who grows up in Minnesota, but ends up fleeing her husband and going to Alaska. Full of details about sea travel and mining - almost as vivid as a movie. Some disturbing scenes around her family, I'm not sure I would enjoy it so much now that I'm a mom, but at the time I read it I found it very absorbing.
Little misleading - I was expecting a story of the north with a love story thrown in, but it was really a love story. Good when the author was story-telling... little disappointed in the ending, almost anti-climatic. Different look at the "bad guy" who was really trying his best, in his own to be good. Overall not a bad book.
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful 1900's journey from the farmlands of Minnesota, to Seattle, then onto Nome Alaska during the height of the "Gold Rush". Story of love, commitment, courage, strength and wisdom. I found the dialogue and narration intriguing and powerful as the image of this time in history reeled me in.
Jul 26, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked reading about the time period, the gold rush in Alaska, and the main characters. But the second half gets slow and drawn out and it looses its momentum. You feel their courage and strength, the wilderness and the adventure all in the beginning and then it looses that in the end. The characters loose their fight and conviction and so does the book.
Nancy Stevenson
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, well-written novel of Alaska in the 1900 gold rush, featuring a woman who goes there from Minnesota. The history of the time seems authentic, the characters are all clearly drawn, the dialogue is true to the period. Very satisfactory. [Warning: There are a few disturbing scenes involving animals.]
Jane Petermeier
An interesting tale about gold mining in the Alaskan territory. It involves a young woman who moves west, escaping her husband, and making a way for her self. (strong female character, love that!) Leonard, the husband she left behind, he's a real snake. The snake???, well he's a real "leonard"! If that doesn't intrigue you, well...
Anh Diem
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While reading this book, I sailed from Seatlle to Alaska, I lived the hard life of farmers in Minesota, and i did some bird watching in remote Alaska. The main character is a formidable woman, i liked her a lot. She was in two hot romances with two guys.

This is a first-book effort. I will read this author again.
Apr 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a historical fiction book about life in Nome, Alaska during the start of the gold rush (1900). I enjoyed this book, but if I was not reading it while in Alaska, it probably would have been a little slow and not as interesting to me.
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