The Bully Order

The Bully of Order Book Cover The Bully of Order
Brian Hart
Fiction
Harper
2014-09-02
400

Washington Territory, 1886 Jacob and Nell Ellstrom step from ship to shore and are struck dumb by the sight of their new home—the Harbor, a ragged township of mud streets and windowless shacks. In the years to come this will be known as one of the busiest and most dangerous ports in the world, and with Jacob's station as the only town physician, prosperity and respect soon rain down on the Ellstroms. Then their son, Duncan, is born, and these are grand days, busy and full of growth. But when a new physician arrives, Jacob is revealed as an impostor, a fraud, and he flees, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Years later, on a fated Fourth of July picnic, Duncan Ellstrom falls in love. Her name is Teresa Boyerton, and her father owns the largest sawmill in the Harbor. Their relationship is forbidden by class and by circumstance, because without Jacob there to guide him, Duncan has gone to work for Hank Bellhouse, the local crime boss. Now, if Duncan wants to be with Teresa, he must face not only his past, but the realities of a dark and violent world and his place within it. Told from various points of view, Brian Hart's novel follows the evolution of the Harbor from a mudstamp outpost to a city that rivals the promise of San Francisco. The Bully of Order is a meditation on progress, love, and identity; a spellbinding novel of fate and redemption—told with a muscular lyricism and filled with a cast of characters Shakespearean in scope—where everyone is as much at the mercy of the weather as they are of the times.

 

Review:

This review is of a complimentary copy provided by Harper through the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.

“The Bully Order” by Brian Hart is an unapologetic novel set on the coast of Washington State in the early 19oo’s.  It is gritty and doesn’t shy away from just how brutal and miserable things were during that time in that area.

I really wanted to like this novel.  The history is sound and a refreshing take on an era that is all too often romanticized.  A few of the characters were engaging and made me want to know more about them.  Unfortunately, those were the only redeeming qualities I found.

The beginning of the book is slow and filled with words that make it seem as though the writer went crazy with a thesaurus.  It really bogs the flow down and makes it near impossible to get sucked into what may otherwise be a good story.  The flips between points of view were enough to make me seasick.  I stuck with it in the vain hope that it would get better, but the flaws pulled me too far out to ever really settle into the story.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Violence, Sexual Situations, Rape

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