Title: The Fugitive Wife
Author: Peter C. Brown
ISBN: 9780393329759/ W.W. Norton
Protagonist: Esther Crummey
Setting: Nome, Alaska, 1900
First Line: Esther Crummey foresaw the accident as it unfolded.
Running from an abusive husband, Esther Crummey is headed for her sister in Ballard, Washington when she finds herself helping at the scene of an accident on the docks in Seattle. As a result of her quick thinking and level-headed advice, she gets a job with a mining company headed for Nome, Alaska and the gold rush there. When Esther arrives in Nome, she finds she has quite the knack for business as well as the gift of finding friends. But always in the back of her mind is the knowledge that her husband is following her.
Based on the diaries of an ancestor who actually went to Nome in 1900, Brown does an excellent job of putting the reader in the midst of a rough-and-tumble mining town in a harsh and beautiful landscape. Where Brown missed the boat with me was in his characterization. I just couldn't drum up interest in any of them. For a character-driven reader like me, not finding interest in the book's people is like wandering off on the ice flows and having them crumble beneath me.
This was a good book! I enjoyed reading about the scenery in Alaska but think there could have been more about it.