This literary novel is set in the winter of 1888. Glovemaker Deborah Tyler is waiting for her beloved husband to return after months away working as a specialist who repairs wagon wheels.
They live in the inhospitable lands of Utah, in a place far from anywhere or anything, in a tiny community of only eight families. But his due date has come and gone without any communication, snow is falling, and Deborah is fearing the worst. Then to compound her worries, a man turns up looking for help. A haunted man running away from trouble, something she has seen many times, but never in the midst of winter. Lawmen are bound to follow this stranger, but Deborah feels she has no choice but to help him. Usually, they are Mormon men with multiple wives running away from the law, and Deborah who was brought up Mormon, helps them because of their children, not because she believes in plural marriage.
The Glovemaker is a slow but powerful novel where you feel the cold and fear and desperate situation of all the characters – the people in this isolated community, the man being chased, and the Marshall chasing him. But things become even more complicated when the Marshall is critically injured, and Deborah has to care for him – all the while wondering when her husband will return.
This is part literary thriller, part survival story, part history of a time in America that many people won’t know about, and also a novel about grief and new beginnings. While it’s a slow, atmospheric read, it has huge emotional power and an ending that will satisfy. Ann Weisgarber was longlisted for the Orange Prize – I hope she wins it with this fine, nuanced novel.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Macmillan, RRP $34.99