Named one of the best books of 2018 by The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, and The Advocate
“Staggeringly brilliant . . . You’ll start The Maze of Windermere with bewilderment, but you’ll close it in awe.” —The Washington Post
“Pitch perfect.” —New York Times Book Review
When a drunken party guest challenges him to a late-night tennis match, Sandy Allison finds himself unexpectedly entangled in the monied world of Newport, Rhode Island. A former touring pro a little down on his luck, Sandy has nothing to stake against the vintage motorcycle his opponent wagers. But then Alice DuPont—the young heiress to a Newport mansion called Windermere—offers up her diamond necklace.
With this reckless wager begins a dazzling narrative odyssey that braids together four centuries of aspiration and adversity in this renowned seaside society capital. A witty and urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age embarks on a high-risk scheme to marry into a fortune; a young 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.
Gregory Blake Smith weaves these intersecting worlds into a rich, brilliant tapestry. A deftly layered novel of love, ambition, and duplicity, The Maze at Windermere charts a voyage across the ages into the maze of the human heart.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Promising premise, often well written, but in the end not much at all. Trivial stories trying to connect together that lead nowhere. Pass on it.
Forgot the ending!
This is a brilliant book that I thoroughly enjoyed, it becoming impossible to put down as the stories intertwined. Imagine my disappointment when I eagerly turned what turned out to be the last page.....where on earth is the ending?! This beautifully written book would have rated 5+ stars and been highly recommended, but alas!
Brilliant and Unsatisfying
As someone who lived for many years in Newport, RI - where these stories take place - I congratulate Mr. Smith on nailing the locale. It is a town obsessed with its own history and culture - where the forces of class and privilege are still as strong as they ever were at the height of the Guilded Age, and where the narrow Colonial streets of The Point still speak to the early days of our nation.
His ability to write in voices unique to each era, and in characters so different one to another speaks volumes about both his creative mind and the detailed research that went into this novel.
The form of the book - five separate stories that are told in parallel chapters - is challenging at first, but becomes quite engrossing as the story lines become more and more tightly bound together by both place and theme.
However, in the end; only one of the stories reaches a satisfying conclusion. The other four just stop - as if the final chapter was missing. I was actually shocked to find that I had reached the last page - and very disappointed to have invested so much time in these characters and their lives.
Having spent several days traversing the Maze at Windermere, I am sad to report that you actually cannot reach the center. It is all dead ends.