Hannah Nelson comes to America in the employ of Lady Hamilton. During the train trip West, she is courted by Hans Nelson but Lady Hamilton has other ideas for a proper husband and one very much not to Hannah’s liking. Things take a spin after a major confrontation with her employer and Hannah accepts Hans’ offer of marriage. The country’s economy is in the tank, so they decide to try their luck at the Yukon Gold fields, but are turned by back by the Canadians for insufficient supplies (too many have already died, so they instituted these requirements). With prices sky-high in Skagway, they head to Sitka where employment is more likely. Once there, they meet up with a few other gold-hungry friends and when they hear of gold for the taking at Lituya Bay – who can resist the lure of gold?
Getting into the bay itself is no easy task as it has some very unusual (and dangerous!) wave activity going on, let alone the occasional earthquakes that have been known to generate a Tsunami here and there. Too complicated for me to explain, but you can read more on Wik and if you are really geeky there’s a bunch of geological info on The Giant Wave of 1958 here). On top of that, the gold isn’t just lying around, the work is long and hard and the results not terribly fruitful and the approach of winter gets closer and closer…
If there be a Christ, pray he grants us release from this heartbroke bay.
Let’s just say that the price of that gold might be more than anyone expected, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out what happened. At just over 300 pages, this is a quick easy read and I enjoyed it a lot, especially the wise old Tlingit Indian Negook who was constantly shaking his head over those foolish white folks. While I’ve heard about Alaska’s great Tsunami before, I wasn’t familiar with the specifics and I found the geologic makeup of the bay rather fascinating. According to the author’s notes at the end her story and characters were based on real people and events – an added plus for me.
I don’t know about anyone else, but no amount of gold would be worth risking that. Note: this book is written in the present tense (except for Hannah’s diary entries) and one I usually don’t care for, but it worked very well with this story.
FTC, I heard about this from Tara at Book Babe and I put in a purchase request at the library and they bought a few copies.