“It is 1857 in the American Pacific Northwest where less than 3500 non-natives have begun settlements. Tensions between local indigenous tribes and pioneer settlers are growing. The U.S. territorial governor has called for a "war of extermination" against natives.
Complicating it all, the local British and U.S. Armies begin preparing for war in a boundary dispute. Haida native Anah-nawitka, widely known by native foes and white settlers as "The Black Wind," addicted to the rush of his kills and the satisfaction of delivering vengeance to the encroaching white colonists, embarks on yet another predatory raid to the south.
Boston-bred Emmy Evers carves out a life for herself and her family amidst her island home's wild streams and woods while her husband Isaac, a prominent local leader, is frequently away.
This is a frontier where a tenuous peace will soon give way, and test the will and endurance of one exceptional woman.”
“It is 1860 and revolution is erupting throughout the world over universal emancipation. Civil war looms in the Unites States. In the midst of it all, a young woman is moving back to Boston with what is left of her family, devastated and bankrupted by savage, tragic events that occurred less than a year ago in the Pacific Northwest.
They traverse a hostile terrain on the new Panama isthmus railroad, the most modern transportation in the world. From inside their coach they watch the humid forest, a different type of green from what they knew up north, slipping fast past, a warm verdant blur.
Looking down the aisle they see an uncomfortable array of fellow travelers, an international mix of characters with whom they will get to know all too well . . . each with hidden hopes and dreams . . . predators and victims, desperadoes and hangmen, widows and widow makers. A convenient ride through the jungle. An inconvenient assault. A run for their lives.”
The Fairness of Beasts
It is 1862. A massive Union army is invading the verdant peninsula of Virginia to take Richmond and end the Civil war. In the rumble of this conflict, a young woman's wounded lover stands in harm's way. To rescue him, she must risk everything she holds dear and cross enemy lines. The fate of her young family hangs in the balance, as does that of the entire nation. The risk she takes turns out to test her heart beyond anything she could have imagined.”
Author of Altamont Augie, Silver Medal winner 2011 Book of the Year Award
Widow Walk is American Historical Fiction in the finest tradition, a direct descendent of Last of the Mohicans and Cold Mountain. LaSalle recounts the brutal, poignant clash between Native American Indian tribes and white settlers in the Pacific Northwest with economy and beauty, writing clean, devastating prose that clutches at your heart. This lean, unsparing narrative will make you look away in sorrow-before raising your fist in triumph. A quintessential rendering of the American Experience.
Author of Death Valley and Bretz's Flood
...one of those rare combinations of a first-rate story enhanced by three-dimensional characters and told with historical accuracy. The author deftly weaves the stories of many compelling characters into a single cord that pulls the reader through an exciting time in the history of the Pacific Northwest. Widow Walk does justice to this colorful, exciting, yet sad tale of settlement in this wonderful part of the North American continent.
Actor, Director, Producer
Historical fiction is rarely embraced and executed as well as is in the Widow Walk Saga. Gar LaSalle’s terrific, captivating novels, starting with book 1, are based on mid-19th Century first settlers in the Pacific Northwest who clash violently with indigenous people of the region. The story expands into the family’s adventures as they traverse the changing social-political landscape of the young United States. Written with ‘less is more’ incisive brevity, the stories invite the emotional engagement of readers. One might very easily compare this highly engaging journey to HBO’s Game of Thrones, but plausible (without the dragons).
KSER Public Radio
The depiction of Emmy O’Malley Evers, the intelligent heroine in Gar LaSalle’s Widow Walk Saga, reminds the reader of the grit and determination of Scarlett O’Hara. Unlike the spoiled, truculent Scarlett, however, Emmy is poised, refined, emotionally balanced and unwavering in doing what’s right in the face of adversity.
Readers’ Favorite Book Award Winner
Widow Walk is a heartbreaking yet empowering tale of how the main character, Emmy Evers, courageously sets her fears aside after the murder of her husband and a near-fatal miscarriage, and searches to find her son and rescue him.
Told using mostly back story, Gar LaSalle cleverly and poignantly takes readers through a time machine, back to the days before North America was settled, and slavery was rampant. To a time when both items and people were traded for any number of things. History buffs will rave over Widow Walk, as the author describes historical surroundings in great detail, giving an unheard of attention to lifestyle, mindset, and the general livelihood of aborigines back in the days of slavery. Feminists will also enjoy this rare look at history through the eyes of a female, and will give a thumbs-up to Emmy and how well her character is portrayed as a strong, independent, intelligent, and shrewd businesswoman.
This is not a light story; it is one that needs full attention as some passages are very detailed and jumpy in keeping with the essence of historical data. Challenging at times is the lack of dialogue, although if you’re a reader that enjoys an intense read, this will be a new addition to your list of favorites.”
The forests and waterways of Puget Sound and British Columbia are as beautiful now as they were in the 1850s, when pioneers were drawn to the region’s fertile land and sea. However, like their enterprising brethren elsewhere on the continent, white settlers in the Pacific Northwest faced raids and brutal attacks from native inhabitants. Marauding Indians throughout the area—motivated by revenge, bloodlust or profit—made life difficult for many homesteaders. The most fearsome tribe was the Haida, led by a vicious killer named Anah. Seeking vengeance for a series of attacks that left his loved ones dead, Anah vows to take the head of a powerful “tyee,” one of the local white settlers. The unfortunate target of his rage is Isaac Evers, a prominent settler on Whidbey Island. Isaac is married to strong, resilient Emmy, and when Anah savagely kills Isaac and kidnaps his son, Emmy must venture into the dark, dangerous northern environs to reclaim her boy and avenge her husband. LaSalle tells this story with the depth and enthusiasm for detail of a true historian, and once the action begins on that fateful night at the Evers homestead, LaSalle skillfully entwines the paths of his well-built characters and shines as a historian and storyteller of the first order. Widow Walk is an earnest, intelligent treat for fans of historical fiction.
Van Nuys Press
In his riveting work of historical fiction, LaSalle touches upon themes such as:
- Order, adorned with the trappings of “civilization,” is only just when it addresses fairly the most basic of our needs
- Advancements occur when theory is fortuitously met by survival and necessity – an epiphany is the result of change, not the motivator
- The evolution of our consciousness about the rights and responsibilities of all men requires heroic sacrifice
- Heroism is grounded ultimately and finally in the most basic of our needs
- There is a higher consciousness that we must will to endure
A fascinating look into a lesser-known part of our history, Widow Walk is a story instilled with bravery and hope in a time where nothing was certain – an American adventure that will stick with you long after the last page has been turned.
Women’s Adventure Magazine
Widow Walk is a finely crafted narrative of the U.S. expansion into the final frontiers of present-day Washington State. LaSalle has a firm grasp of the history, politics, and cultural differences at play in the area. Emmy’s courage and determination will stay with you long after the tale has ended. She lived a life of adventure in the truest sense, facing tragedy and heartbreak with an inner strength and stubborn resolve, always looking forward to a better future.
“Isthmus” is a gripping, lucid grassroots story of the times set in in the 1800's. LaSelle declines the strict use of great battles and big men as its fulcrum, opting instead for a look at the people of these times, creating an absorbing social history. In the tradition Gerald LaSalle has produced a book that is a work of both history and literature, a deep, rich, and complex analysis of the people and period surrounding the Isthmus of Panama, the gold rush, and the years before the American Civil War.
We get to traverse again with Emmy on her journey upon the Panama isthmus railroad. Emmy and her family are on the train, and going back to Boston. (my favorite character from “Window Walk”), she observes fellow travelers, as any one might do in concurrence. The characters are awesomely portrayed on their plight of forbearing travels in the author’s rendition.
A story of a war waged on and off the battlefield, a war of politics and ideology that transformed the culture unfolds brilliantly in the able hands of this fine historian. We are once again introduced to the lives of famous men in this 1800 era. Example is Ran Runnels, famously known throughout Panama then and now as “El Verdugo” or “The Hangman,” He became known famously as the secret “Isthmus Guard,” for his tortures escapades and delivery of justice. Then there is General Giuseppe Garibaldi and the Risorgimento dominated the headlines of newspapers throughout the Western world in the mid-nineteenth century. Garibaldi inspired young idealists internationally with his revolutionary exploits in South America.
General readers and seasoned scholars alike will find new information and insights in this eye-opening account. Splendidly colorful . . . A deep, rich, and complex analysis of the period surrounding and including this era in history. LaSalle recounts this tale about the Isthmus of Panama, the history of the Panama railroad; and of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, together with a traveler’s innuendo of the Panama Railroad that connects it all together in a southern institutional rot with the ease and authority born of decades of study. He offers a fresh perspective on this oft-told story by relying heavily on personal letters, journals and excerpts from documented history. . . . LaSalle’s well-documented study provides a concise and well-written overview of the conflict and a cogent discussion of . . . still-polarizing issues.” The rails of Isthmus takes a very close look at an episode usually understated in histories.
This book kept me riveted to the characters so deftly portrayed by this writer, and I was completely swept up in the totality of this poignant story. I look forward to reading more of the books written by LaSalle. I was given this book for my honest review, and honestly I thought that it was a great read. Thank you for sharing your work.
Black is the New AP Style
It’s not often that a combination of Civil War-era politics, historical drama, romance and family trauma is found on a bookshelf. For Gar LaSalle, his Widow Walk series is one-of-a-kind.
In the first of the series, the reader is introduced to Emmy Evers, who is a widow with two children: Sarah, 10, and Jacob, 5. Integrated into the storyline is historical fiction of the Native American and Pacific Northwest tribes, and the interactions between natives and settlers.
In the second novel, Isthmus, Emmy, Sarah and Jacob are faced again with tragedy. They are returning home to Boston from the Pacific Northwest, on the new Panama railroad – the most modern transportation of its time. Themes of slavery, segregation and expansionism are concurrent with the storyline of the Evers’ and seep over into the third novel.
The Fairness of Beasts brings Emmy and her children to Boston at the beginning of the Civil War; a war that ends up bringing tragedy to more than just its participants. The Evers family can’t seem to catch a break, even with the help of notable historical figures such as General Benjamin Butler.
While Emmy is dealing with searching for her fiancé, Doctor Rory Brett, her children are left with her sister, Kathleen, who wants nothing more than to be rid of them. After Kathleen decides to make parental decisions on her sister’s behalf, the children run off and get lost in the wrong part of New York City. Emmy is faced with a missing fiancé and missing children at the same time that Sarah is faced with missing her childhood and missing her mother.
“The Fairness of Beasts is a complex, tragic love story about a woman’s journey into the hells of war as she attempts to find her wounded lover, and the emergence of her 14-year-old daughter as the young teen explores the bewilderment that accompanies a first love,” LaSalle said in a press release.
The story jumps to a different character each chapter, from the Evers family to Rory Brett to Robby Hoyt and more. Although each chapter jumps not just with characters but with time frames, the flow still makes sense and doesn’t give the opportunity to confuse the reader.
Much like the first two Widow Walk novels, The Fairness of Beasts is no exception to the extended amount of research that so clearly went into the details of each chapter. Non-fiction characters interweave with the fictional characters, and places and events of the war also interweave with the fictional events.
As a man of many hats, LaSalle takes his passion as a creator and has developed a series that has given his following the chance to relearn history in a mix of fictional and non-fictional plots. Between being optioned for a film or TV drama and the fourth and fifth novels in the works, LaSalle’s Widow Walk journey is far from over.
The Fairness of Beasts uses multiple points of view and explores the lives of each character who crosses Emmy’s path. Sexual victimization of children, physical and psychological violence, and the pedestrian abuse of power are significant themes and make for harrowing reading.
When the characters’ problematic choices coalesce with the savagery of war, the outcomes are heartbreaking and often horrifying, “without so much as anything that resembles even a bit of the fairness accorded to beasts.” Gar LaSalle’s diligent use of historical events and locations serve as a frequent reminder that this fiction is moored in a bloody past that none were able to outrun or escape.