This is an amazing tale about Alaska's goldrush days. The novel takes place in 1898. Hannah, a once well to do but now down on her luck lady's maid from England, is aboard a train where she meets the handsome, daring, American Hans. She marries him to get out of a rather sticky situation. He has ideas of grandeur, however, and after partnering up with three other men, Hans whisks his bride from Skagway to Lituya Bay, Alaska to dig for gold. Lituya Bay was not known for being friendly to sailors. . or settlers.
It's a cast of characters obviously meant for disaster. Hannah barely knows her new husband and is not sure she trusts him. He does prove rather idiotic with their finances. Hans pays little attention to his wife. His thoughts are all on gold. Dutch is a liar and a storyteller. Harky is struggling with his Civil War past. Michael desires Hannah.
In Lituya Bay, they must either band together or fall apart. When they finally start finding gold, nature suddenly turns on them. There's rain, golden bears, glaciers, ice, and they can either get out before winter or they can stay and dig up more gold and hope they get out before it is too late because once winter comes.. hey, this is Alaska we are talking about here.
Will they make the right decision? What will happen if they don't? As with every goldrush novel, this novel shows how greed can render people senseless and how the lust for gold can have everlasting consequences. The Tinglit Indians have some interesting parts in this as well. One man in particular, Negook, imparts some rather wise words to the greedy gold diggers. Negook also injects some humor into the story with his musings about the crazy white men and their bicycles and his joy in the white man's word, "horses**t." I thought it was a good touch.
Nevertheless, Lituya Bay becomes Heartbroke Bay... somehow. I'm not telling. The ending was very surprising. I did find it dragged a bit in some places, namely on the boat when they went from Skagway to Lituya. Also, at times, a bit too much descriptive detail. However, I really felt as though I was in Alaska and could actually imagine the scent of the seals.
I bought this book on Amazon.