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The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.
This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.
From a just-so apartment tucked under the Brooklyn Bridge to the wide-open vistas of Montana, the jagged peaks of Glacier National Park, and the autumn-crisp air of Yellowstone, the landscapes in this novel are essential characters in the story. This weekend, you’re invited to take a (bookish) getaway to some of the most majestic spots in America.
Our heroine Celine defies every expectation of the private eye, and we dare you to not be completely infatuated by her. Elegant, aristocratic, and a woman of a certain age, she’s also an outsider artist, wildly empathetic, skilled in surprising ways, and ridiculously good at her job of reuniting damaged families.
But she’s not the only remarkable woman in this story.
There’s also Gabriela, a young woman with a Past and Baggage, who needs Celine’s help. Decades ago — after a gut-wrenching family tragedy — her father went missing under suspicious circumstances on the Wyoming-Montana border. To move on with her life, Gabriela needs answers, and she pleads with Celine to take on the cold case. Soon the PI is on an epic (and dangerous) road trip west to unravel the mystery and bring her client peace.
This story was inspired by the author’s own mother, and his descriptions of the breathtaking and brutal scenery, as well as the characters’ internal landscapes, will transport you into their reality. But it’s not all atmosphere. This is a page-turner with taut suspense and action-packed set pieces that demonstrate Celine is a force as powerful as the mountain wind.
Celine is assisted in her investigation by the realistically quirky, off-the-grid characters that live at the fringes of society in America’s vast wilderness. It’s a non-judgmental look at people who choose to live a different kind of life, and it grapples with the often painful sacrifices that must be made for freedom and family. Love, redemption, loyalty, determination — they’re all at play in this sharply plotted and graceful novel.
Psst… We loved this audiobook! It’s narrated by Kimberly Farr, and her voice is warm, wry, wise, with a bell-like timbre. It transported us straight into the story. We saw Celine and Gabriela, the mountainous scenery, the car chases, and the gunfights, all played out through our ears and into our mind’s eye.
In this discussion, author Peter Heller discusses the inspiration for Celine, as well as his other novels and real-life adventures around the world. It’s hosted by Ron Jolly at the City Opera House in Traverse City, MI.
The swaths of aspen on the shoulders of the mountains were yellow and in the windless hours of the morning single leaves spun straight to the ground. They drove with their windows half open, relishing the smells of autumn. They entered the Blackfeet Reservation and turned west at Browning and followed the South Fork of Cut Bank Creek upstream. The sharp rock peaks of Glacier National Park loomed to the west, their flanks swathed in new snow. Something about these first touches of winter: The high ledges were limned in ice, the gullies etched, the hanging glaciers dazzled. Reefs of cloud stood off to the west behind the peaks, but the sky above them was lens clear. — Peter Heller
This smart thriller (352 pages) was published in March of 2017 by Knopf. The book takes you to Wyoming and Montana. Melissa read Celine and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
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