Valentine - Elizabeth Wetmore

Valentine

By: Elizabeth Wetmore

Paperback | 5 March 2020

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With the haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout and Barbara Kingsolver, and the atmospheric suspense of The Girls: a compulsive debut novel about that explores the aftershock of a brutal crime on the women of a small Texas oil town.

Mercy is hard in a place like this . . .

It's February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town's men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow.

In the early hours of the morning after Valentine's Day, fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramirez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead's ranch house, broken and barely alive. The teenager has been viciously attacked in a nearby oil field - an act of brutality that is tried in the churches and barrooms of Odessa before it can reach a court of law.

Corinne Shepard spent years pushing against the limits of her town as they closed in on the girls in her classroom. Now, world-weary and unmoored by the loss of her husband, she has had enough of trying to save people. But her young neighbour, Debra-Ann - wild, motherless and lonely - has other ideas.

When justice for Glory is evasive and one of the town's women decides to take matters into her own hands, the stage is set for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences.

Narrated by a cast of indelible characters who burrow deep in the reader's heart, Valentine is a fiercely gripping, darkly funny and surprisingly tender novel about hope, and fear, and justice - and the many different forms that courage can take.

Industry Reviews

'Fierce and complex, Valentine is a novel of moral urgency and breathtaking prose. This is the very definition of a stunning debut' Anne Patchett

'It is nearly impossible for me to believe that Elizabeth Wetmore is a first time novelist. How can a writer burst out of the gate with this much firepower and skill? ... These are some of the most fully-realized and unforgettable female characters I've ever met. They will stay with me' Elizabeth Gilbert

'It's like a grimmer, newer version of To Kill A Mockingbird ... It sounds bleak, and it is, but there is beauty, too; in the landscape, in the spirit of some of the people and most of all in Wetmore's wonderful writing' Daily Mail

'It's a terrific work that merits comparisons with Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge novels for its granular evocations of rural, small-town life' Metro

'There is much to admire and enjoy in this novel. There is a fine sense of place, an understanding of hardship and its corrosive effect on character, a recognition and realization of the courage with which so many of the women meet adversity' Scotland on Sunday

'This debut isn't an easy read but it's one that's well worth your time with a cast of enduring female characters. Incredibly atmospheric,Valentine is where the myth of the Western is wrestled from a male perspective and into the hands of its women' Stylist

'In outstanding prose, Wetmore has created a handful of extraordinary women out of the dust of West Texas, 1976 ... Valentine is both heartbreaking and thrilling, I loved it' Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange

'We may be on oil-heavy Cormac McCarthy cowboy terrain, but in Wetmore's western it's the women who carry the guns ... What begins in the vein of a grizzly thriller soon transforms into a visceral portrait of a swathe of Texas riven with toxic masculinity' Francesca Angelini, Sunday Times

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