A heart-wrenching first novel about the power of place and family ties, the weight of the stories we choose to tell, and the burden of those we hide
Frozen in grief after the loss of her son at sea, Edith Baines stares across the water at a schooner, under full sail yet motionless in the winter wind and surging tide of the Northern Reach. Edith seems to be hallucinating. Or is she? Edith’s boat-watch opens The Northern Reach, set in the coastal town of Wellbridge, Maine, where townspeople squeeze a living from the perilous bay or scrape by on the largesse of the summer folk and whatever they can cobble together, salvage, or grab.
At the center of town life is the Baines family, land-rich, cash-poor descendants of town founders, along with the ne’er-do-well Moody clan, the Martins of Skunk Pond, and the dirt farming, bootlegging Edgecombs. Over the course of the twentieth century, the families intersect, interact, and intermarry, grappling with secrets and prejudices that span generations, opening new wounds and reckoning with old ghosts.
W. S. Winslow's The Northern Reach is a breathtaking debut about the complexity of family, the cultural legacy of place, and the people and experiences that shape us.
Edith Baines stares out the living room window at the schooner on the far side of the Northern Reach. It’s a traditional boat, big, maybe eighty feet, gaff-rigged with raked masts and some kind of carving on the prow, but...
Praise for The Northern Reach
“Is there anything better than getting to walk through a small and unfamiliar town and peer through the windows into the lives lived in the houses there? The Northern Reach gives you that rich and satisfying treat. Here is a Maine as various and stark as the pull of tides in every human heart.” – Sarah Blake, author of The Guest Book
"There should be a term for that rare, specific pleasure when a writer takes you to place you've never been and by the time the book is finished you feel like you know the landscape and its people as well as you do your own…Winslow's debut novel is such a book, her clear-eyed vision of a small town in Maine is both steely and humane, and as transporting as a ticket home." – Helen Schulman, author of Come With Me
“If Johnny Cash had sung of New England, he might have envisioned these sweeping, haunted, hilarious and sad tales of WS Winslow's…This is a devastating book by a major storyteller.” – John Freeman, author of How to Read a Novelist