The Maze at Windermere | Penguin Random House Canada
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The Maze at Windermere

A Novel

Publisher: Viking
An intricate creation you'll happily lose yourself in.” —People

“Staggeringly brilliant . . . [and] extraordinary. You’ll start The Maze of Windermere with bewilderment, but you’ll close it in awe.” —The Washington Post

“Pitch perfect . . . The different strands of the narrative are skillfully braided.” —New York Times Book Review

Five eras and a spellbinding cast of characters intersect in Newport, R.I., weaving a tapestry of ambition and desire, and charting a voyage into the maze of the human heart from past to present.


A reckless wager between a tennis pro with a fading career and a drunken party guest—the stakes are an antique motorcycle and an heiress’s diamond necklace—launches an odyssey that braids together three centuries of love and ambition, aspiration and adversity. A witty and urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age embarks on a high-risk scheme to marry into a fortune;  the  young writer Henry James, soon to make his mark on the world, turns himself to his craft with harrowing social consequences; an aristocratic British officer during the American Revolution carries on a courtship that leads to murder; and, in Newport’s earliest days, a tragically orphaned Quaker girl imagines a way forward for herself and the slave girl she has inherited.
 
In The Maze at Windermere Gregory Blake Smith weaves these intersecting worlds into a brilliant tapestry, charting a voyage across the ages into the maze of the human heart.

READ AN EXCERPT

¥ Summer 2011 ¥

He was trying to explain to her how he'd gotten to be where he was. The condition he was in. His state of mind, the state of his bank account. His heart, his soul, whatever. They were in the Orangery at Windermere, Aisha newly naked beside him, the salt air coming in...
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PRAISE FOR

“An intricate creation you'll happily lose yourself in.” 
—People

“Staggeringly brilliant….. An extraordinary demonstration of narrative dexterity. Moving up and down through the strata of history, Smith captures the ever-changing refractions of human desire…. The cumulative effect of this carousel of differing voices is absolutely transporting…. Looking up from this remarkable novel, one has an eerie sense of history as a process of continuous erasure and revision. You’ll start ‘The Maze of Windermere’ with bewilderment, but you’ll close it in awe.” 
Ron CharlesThe Washington Post

“Smith sprinkles James’s distinctively fresh early style with just the lightest pinch of turgid fussiness—the language is pitch-perfect—and his insights into James’s character and mind are flawless.” 
—John Vernon, New York Times Book Review

“Gregory Blake Smith’s The Maze at Windermere is a dazzling high-wire act. I turned every page with a sense of wonder and excitement.”
—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Empire Falls and Everybody's Fool

“Intricately designed and suspenseful…. Though references to James’ work, particularly The Portrait of a Lady, abound, readers don’t have to be familiar with his novels to relish the well-differentiated voices and worlds or to enjoy the way the novel’s five story lines subtly shift and begin to merge.”
Booklist, starred review

“Taken individually, each story is dramatic and captivating, but as the author makes ever-increasing connections among the stories and shuffles them all into one unbroken narrative, the novel becomes a moving meditation on love, race, class, and self-fulfillment in America across the centuries.” 
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Compelling…. The changing language, landscape, and mores of three centuries of American history are depicted with verisimilitude, highlighting what doesn't change at all: the aspirations and crimes of the human heart.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“Compelling…. Award-winning novelist Smith moves nimbly among his tales’ various settings and diverse characters within the confines of Newport…. [An] intricate tale.”
Library Journal, starred review

“The Maze at Windermere is a dramatic and interesting look into the past of a town and the lives of those who’ve dwelled in it.” 
—NY Journal of Books

“Smith’s vibrant mix of beautiful writing, clarity of voices, flow of history and storytelling, and philosophical reflections had me slowing my pace to stretch out its pleasures.” 
Star Tribune

The Maze at Windermere is thrilling. This novel restored my faith and made me laugh out loud. It’s rare that a novel comes along that is broad ranging, so very funny, profound, provocative, literary, and page-turning, and also word perfect. I went right back to the beginning when I’d finished, marveling again at the radiant mind of Gregory Blake Smith.”
—Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World and The Excellent Lombards
 
“Not since Beautiful Ruins have I read a novel with such breadth of imagination or depth of heart, nor a cast of characters so real, so varied, so compelling. In five exquisitely braided tales spanning nearly four centuries, Gregory Blake Smith illuminates the everlasting power of our passions and the hazard of our follies—in essence, the many ways we mortals strive and yearn toward the center of the maze we each call life. This book is a tour de force: gorgeous, suspenseful, cunning, and wise.”
—Julia Glass, author of Three Junes
 
The Maze at Windermere is an astonishing book—prismatic, continually surprising, daring not only in structure but in its investigation of the human heart. Somehow it manages to be both ruthless and tender. On top of all that, it’s wildly, hurtlingly entertaining.”
Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others