I read Paul Butler’s novel, Hero, when it was first published in 2010 and I was the Alberta sales rep for Nimbus Publishing and Vagrant Press. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I “hand-sold” it not only to my bookstore and library customers, but also other reader friends I knew would enjoy it just as much. I was so pleased when Paul announced that this earlier novel was being re-released by the same publisher that I just had to invite him back to Reading Recommendations to tell us about Hero! It probably goes without saying that I highly recommend this book and its author. (Paul was previously featured here in Sept. 2014, and has been a welcome supporter since that time, so much so that I’ve listed him as one of my All-Star Authors.)
published by Nimbus Publishing and Vagrant Press
literary fiction/historical novel
In a St. John’s hospital in 1945, Elsa Evans keeps a furtive vigil over the deathbed of Abram Kean, the renowned sealing captain. Remembering her first husband and her two brothers killed in the trenches thirty years before, and another young friend, Noah, frozen on the ice during the sealing disaster of 1914, Elsa contemplates a hideous revenge. The shock of her own bitterness forces her to retrace part of her life which is interwoven with those of her former employers, Simon and Sarah Jenson.
On the morning of July 1916, officer Lt. Simon Jenson, severely shell-shocked and demoralized after a year and a half in the trenches, fails in leadership, hanging behind his men as they march through into no-man’s-land. When a figure emerges from the drifting smoke, he thrusts the blade of his bayonet forward not into the enemy but into the body of Charles Baxter, a comrade and the brother of his fiancée, Sarah. Surviving against the odds, and with his battlefield actions misinterpreted, Simon is feted as a hero. But when Simon returns from the war, Sarah finds him emotionally fragile and prone to violent rages – not even their young daughter Lucy can cheer him. Worse, their lives are soon overtaken by the shadow of blackmail, and Sarah and Elsa, Lucy’s governess, are forced to reconsider everything they once believed about loyalty, valour, and responsibility.
“[A] brilliant new novel . . . Butler uses imaginative, textured language to convey the emotional contradictions of his characters. . .” Atlantic Books Today on Hero