by Matt Bondurant
Narrated by Chris Henry Coffey and Julia Atwood
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Pub Date 14 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 25 Jul 2022
In the wake of the 1900 Galveston hurricane, three lives converge despite persecution from the Ku Klux Klan, a bare-knuckle boxing match gone wrong, and the recovery efforts of the American Red Cross.
Based on a true story
The hurricane of 1900, America's worst natural disaster, left the island city of Galveston in ruins. Thousands perished, including all ninety-three children at the Sisters of the Incarnate Word orphanage-except six-year-old Hester, who miraculously survived. Oleander City is the tale of this little girl and the volatile collision between the American Red Cross, the Ku Klux Klan, and one of the most famous boxing matches in American history. The bout, organized to raise money for the recovery effort, featured the enigmatic veteran "Chrysanthemum Joe" Choynski, the most successful Jewish boxer in America, and Jack Johnson, a young hometown hero known as "the Galveston Giant." The storied battle forged a bond between the two legendary fighters and put Johnson on the path to become the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.
Meanwhile, Clara Barton and the Red Cross minister to the sick and hungry as mounted vigilantes use the chaotic situation to settle old scores. After witnessing a terrible crime, Hester finds sanctuary with the ladies of the Red Cross, in a heartrending convergence of these historic figures.
A Note From the Publisher
"Oleander City bears down on its characters like a category five storm, forcing three lost souls to discover who they truly are. More timely than one would think, this tale of natural catastrophe, racial injustice, and lawlessness ultimately illuminates the humanity that motivates and unites us all. A certifiable page-turner, Oleander City pulls at you with the dark undertow of an America that isn't quite bygone."
-Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Master's Son
"In Oleander City, Matt Bondurant braids the events of the worst natural disaster in American history with one of the great untold stories of American culture. Only a writer of Bondurant's skill could achieve such complicated braiding. This is history written like a novel, a complicated legacy of human tragedy, race, and class distilled into one hell of a read."
-Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author
"Oleander City is the best kind of historical novel. Richly imagined, exquisitely written, this tale of disaster and perseverance is both visceral and urgent…A knockout."
-M. O. Walsh, New York Times bestselling author of My Sunshine Away and The Big Door Prize
"In Oleander City, Bondurant reminds us of the horrors of our humanity but amid it all, that there are those who fight for goodness, for love and truth, that we are brutal but also beautiful brutes. This is a brilliant novel."
-Julianna Baggott, national bestselling author of Girl Talk and Pure
"Bondurant weaves together fascinating backstories with vivid descriptions of the storm and its aftermath, showing that it takes many types of courage to fight for what is right."
"This novel surprises with its perceptiveness and astonishes with its poignant illustration of the deeper and more sustaining values of beauty and truth and love."
-Clay Reynolds, author of The Vigil, Franklin's Crossing, and The Tentmaker
"Matt Bondurant's latest work of historical fiction is a deftly woven tale of humanity amidst tragedy. Its vivid characters traverse the broken landscape of hurricane-ravaged Galveston, their lives intersecting in surprising and complicated ways. I won't forget any of them-especially Hester, a stoic orphan girl accompanied by an old hound dog. It's a gripping story told with lush and immersive detail."
-Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens and We Want What We Want
"Set against the sweeping backdrop of dramatic action…this book will keep you reading into the night."
-Chris Offutt, author of Shifty's Boys
"In Oleander City, Matt Bondurant takes the carbon of history and, with the pressure and heat of beautifully crafted prose, sensitively drawn characters, and a gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching narrative, creates a brilliant diamond of a novel. Bondurant hurls readers through the Galveston hurricane of 1900, past figures as legendary as Jack Johnson and Clara Barton, into collision with the Ku Klux Klan, and straight toward the dark, murky truth of the American Dream. Oleander City, like all diamonds, is a gift to last forever."
-Snowden Wright, author of Play Pretty Blues and American Pop
Internationally bestselling author of Lawless, the basis of the feature film starring Shia LaBeouf
Major prepublication buzz and outreach
National and regional features, interviews, and reviews
Print and online advertising
Social media campaign
Bookseller and library trade show marketing
Author website: MattBondurant.com
Follow the author on Twitter: @mbondurant
|DURATION||8 Hours, 41 Minutes, 24 Seconds|
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 9 members
Historically accurate, Oleander City is set in Galveston and a hurricane destroyed the city in the early 1900’s. Diane is a relief worker for the Red Cross. She and her sister travel to Galveston to help with the devastation. While there, she encounters an orphan, which leads her life to intersect with “Chrysanthemum Joe”, a professional boxer who has travelled to Galveston for a match.
I love reading historically accurate novels. I recently traveled to Galveston myself and enjoyed digging deeper into its history. I loved all of the detail. Author Matt Bondurant does an excellent job of portraying the brutal and disturbing events of that time period. He definitely did not shy away from writing about difficult history. It was a little slow for me, but very well done.
*** Huge thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review
An orphan, a Red Cross volunteer & a boxer make their way through the dangers & devastation of post-storm Galveston. If it sounds boring, that’s only because I don’t want to ruin any part of this book for anyone. Oh, this story was fantastic!
Historical fiction does not always stick with me (in fact, I start more historical fiction than I finish, unfortunately), but this book is so gorgeous! It’s gutting & tender & the main characters are extremely well developed. (The secondary characters are less so, but I think that’s because we don’t spend as much time with them.)
I listened to the audiobook version & the narrators were equally wonderful! I ended up scrubbing my floors by hand one evening just so I could absorb hours of this book without guilt.
Absolutely 5 🌟!
Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this AMAZING book in exchange for my honest review. I will definitely be reading more by this author!!
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