Perfume River (Paperback)
  • Perfume River (Paperback)
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Perfume River (Paperback)

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Paperback 256 Pages
Published: 25/10/2017
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Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence 2017

Profound and poignant, Perfume River is a masterful novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.

Profound and poignant, Perfume River is a masterful novel that examines blood ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.

Robert Quinlan and his wife Darla teach at Florida State University. Their marriage, forged in the fervour of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee, solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain below the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert's own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. William Quinlan, Robert and Jimmy's father and a veteran of World War II, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across all their lives once again when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father's bedside. And a disturbed homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a devastating impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.

Publisher: Bedford Square Publishers
ISBN: 9781843449645
Number of pages: 256
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Butler's Faulknerian shuttling back and forth across the decades has less to do with literary pyrotechnics than with cutting to the chase. Perfume River hits its marks with a high-stakes intensity . . . Butler's particulars on the two brothers' marriages are comprehensively adroit . . . Butler's prose is fluid, and his handling of his many time-shifts as lucid as it is urgent. His descriptive gifts don't extend just to his characters' traits or their Florida and New Orleans settings, but to the history he's addressing . . . 'You share a war in one way,' Robert thinks. 'You pass it on in another.' Perfume River captures both the agony and subtlety of how that happens - Michael Upchurch, New York Times Book Review

Though superficially a straightforward family drama, Perfume River poses some deeply serious questions about the nature of our engagement with war and the way throughout history it has served the purpose of testing the resolve and courage of young men. It also explores how notions of loyalty and duty can be part of a son's genetic inheritance and what can happen when they are challenged. And it reveals how, more than 40 years after its ignominious end, the Vietnam War remains for some Americans an open wound. Butler's refusal to even hint at easy answers to those questions makes this a novel that succeeds in engaging us in profound and important ways - Bookreporter.com

At the heart of the story - or stories, which move fluidly among Robert, Darla and Jimmy, one character's thoughts sometimes answering another's - is a knot of misunderstandings, misconceptions and assumptions that begin to unravel with the father's fall, only to be replaced by new if somewhat clearer distortions - Minneapolis Star Tribune

This thoughtful and considered novel stands as a sobering reminder that there are still members of an ageing generation to have, even now, failed to find peace or closure - Alastair Mabbot, The Sunday Herald

An understated yet profound and incredibly hard hitting and evocative novel that just simmers with tension - Liz Robinson, LoveReading

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“A different kettle of fish!”

Perfume River is a completely different kettle of fish to the other Robert Olen Butler novels that I have read; namely the Christopher Marlowe Cobb thrillers. It took me a while to get comfortable with the rhythm and... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 42

“Another Modern American Classic”

Perfume River – Another Modern American Classic

Robert Olen Butler in my mind is one of the best American authors of the moment, whose novels and short stories are second to none and easy to see why he is a Pulitzer... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 38

“Fragrant”

Perfume River - Robert Olen Butler

I have read three of Robert Olen Butler’s previous works and I enjoyed them immensely. But they were all Christopher Marlowe Cobb mysteries. They were deceptive works, easy... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 33

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