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Book Cover for: The Heart in Winter, Kevin Barry

The Heart in Winter

Kevin Barry

Reader Score


85% of readers

recommend this book

Critic Reviews


Based on 14 reviews on

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A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK - Award-winning writer Kevin Barry's first novel set in America, a savagely funny and achingly romantic tale of young lovers on the lam in 1890s Montana.

October 1891. A hard winter approaches across the Rocky Mountains. The city of Butte, Montana is rich on copper mines and rampant with vice and debauchery among a hard-living crowd of immigrant Irish workers. Here we find Tom Rourke, a young poet and ballad-maker of the town, but also a doper, a drinker, and a fearsome degenerate. Just as he feels his life is heading nowhere fast, Polly Gillespie arrives in town as the new bride of the extremely devout mine captain Long Anthony Harrington. A thunderbolt love affair takes spark between Tom and Polly and they strike out west on a stolen horse, moving through the badlands of Montana and Idaho, and briefly an idyll of wild romance perfects itself. But a posse of deranged Cornish gunmen are soon in hot pursuit and closing in fast. With everything to lose and the safety and anonymity of San Francisco still a distant speck on their horizon, the choices they make will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

In this love story for the ages--lyrical, profane and propulsive--Kevin Barry has once again demonstrated himself to be a master stylist, an unrivalled humourist, and a true poet of the human heart.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Doubleday Books
  • Publish Date: Jul 9th, 2024
  • Pages: 256
  • Language: English
  • Edition: undefined - undefined
  • Dimensions: 7.72in - 4.96in - 1.10in - 0.74lb
  • EAN: 9780385550598
  • Categories: LiteraryDystopianWomen

About the Author

KEVIN BARRY is the author of the novels Night Boat to Tangier, Beatlebone, and City of Bohane as well as three story collections including That Old Country Music. His stories and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta and elsewhere. He also works as a playwright and screenwriter lives in County Sligo, Ireland.

Critics’ reviews

Praise for this book


"A dazzling tale of lovers on the run in Montana . . . Barry has written us a love story that never seems false or cheap, and an adventure where the violence is never gloating or desensitised. It's a wedding of Cormac McCarthy with Flann O'Brien; a western but also the most Irish of novels; a tragedy written as farce . . . inspiring joy with every incident, every concept, every sentence."
-- The Guardian

"All that should be required for you to saddle up and ride hard toward your nearest bookstore on July 9 is this: Kevin Barry does Deadwood...Barry never disappoints, but this one is a pure pleasure. A thrilling, tumescent, poetically vulgar, big-hearted romp of a novel...utterly electrifying."
-- LitHub

"It takes a sublime artist like Kevin Barry to map the wildest outposts of the human heart. He captures his poet bandit's spirit through language that is consistently original, consistently exhilarating. "
--Claire Kilroy

"An absolute belter of a book."
--Anne Enright, author of The Gathering

"Rip-roaring...The pleasure never lets up in Barry's masterful novel."
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The Irish writer's humor and prose magic give the genre's conventions a refreshing spin...Barry's fans will be delighted and many a newbie beguiled."
-- Kirkus (starred review)

"Rollicking ... Barry's style seems magnificently effortless as Tom and Polly meet some strange and curious characters on their travels, and it seems Barry can make anything compelling. A sterling work of historical fiction and a picaresque love story that is brutal, hilarious, and fabulously entertaining."
-- Booklist (starred review)

"Holy damn, it's good."
--David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas

"Barry's sentences dazzle like lightning strikes yet he is equally gifted as a storyteller. Humorous, though ultimately profoundly moving, The Heart in Winter further confirms Barry's place as one of our greatest contemporary writers.
-Ron Rash, author of Serena

"Another bloody brilliant little symphony from Kevin Barry"
--Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers

"I was spellbound...Funny, brutal, romantic and cinematic."
--The Bookseller

"A sterling work of historical fiction and a picaresque love story that is brutal, hilarious, and fabulously entertaining."
-- Booklist (starred review)

'Wondrous and bold. I'm in awe of Kevin Barry and endlessly inspired by his work'
--Lisa McInerney, author of The Rules of Revelation

"Kevin Barry lights out for the territory and once again comes back with a shining nugget of gold. The Heart in Winter is a glorious and haunted yarn, with all the elements - the doomed lovers, the bounty hunters, the knife-fights and whisky-soaked songs - brought to mysterious life by the heft and polish of the Barry sentence. Marvelous."
-- Jon McGregor, author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

"A haunting, hypnotic love story of two damaged souls. Barry's talent is breath-taking--he is a true original and, once again, words obey his call. This is a propulsive read from a writer at the height of his powers."
-- Mary Costello, author of Academy Street

"[B]y turns funny and tragic, full of typically outrageous figures and sublime writing."
-- The Observer

"Barry's voice...propels us through [his] work, through paragraphs punctuated by turns of phrase that deliver little jolts of pleasure."
-- Francine Prose, author of A Changed Man