Bright and Distant Shores

Bright and Distant Shores Selected for Kirkus Reviews Best Books of From the award winning author of The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre and The Beautiful Miscellaneous comes a sweeping historical novel set amid the sky

  • Title: Bright and Distant Shores
  • Author: Dominic Smith
  • ISBN: 9781439198865
  • Page: 421
  • Format: Paperback
  • Selected for Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2011 From the award winning author of The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre and The Beautiful Miscellaneous comes a sweeping historical novel set amid the skyscrapers of 1890s Chicago and the far flung islands of the South Pacific.In the waning years of the nineteenth century there was a hunger for tribal artifacts, spawningSelected for Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2011 From the award winning author of The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre and The Beautiful Miscellaneous comes a sweeping historical novel set amid the skyscrapers of 1890s Chicago and the far flung islands of the South Pacific.In the waning years of the nineteenth century there was a hunger for tribal artifacts, spawning collecting voyages from museums and collectors around the globe In 1897, one such collector, a Chicago insurance magnate, sponsors an expedition into the South Seas to commemorate the completion of his company s new skyscraper the world s tallest building The ship is to bring back an array of Melanesian weaponry and handicrafts, but also several natives related by blood Caught up in this scheme are two orphans Owen Graves, an itinerant trader from Chicago s South Side who has recently proposed to the girl he must leave behind, and Argus Niu, a mission houseboy in the New Hebrides who longs to be reunited with his sister At the cusp of the twentieth century, the expedition forces a collision course between the tribal and the civilized, between two young men plagued by their respective and haunting pasts.An epic and ambitious story that brings to mind E L Doctorow, with echoes of Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, Bright and Distant Shores is a wondrous achievement by a writer known for creating compelling fiction from the fabric of history.

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    1 thought on “Bright and Distant Shores”

    1. From the award-winning author of The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre and The Beautiful Miscellaneous comes a sweeping historical novel set amid the skyscrapers of 1890s Chicago and the far-flung islands of the South Pacific.In the waning years of the nineteenth century there was a hunger for tribal artifacts, spawning collecting voyages from museums and collectors around the globe. In 1897, one such collector, a Chicago insurance magnate, sponsors an expedition into the South Seas to commemora [...]

    2. Since I met the author, Dominic Smith, in 2006 for an interview in Austin, Texas, to talk about his then newly published first novel, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre—I was working on an article for the alumni magazine of a Michigan liberal arts college—I have been enthralled with his work. Not a chance that I would miss any of his books. And by now, there are three.Bright and Distant Shores is Smith’s third novel, and it will be available September 2011. I rocked on my heels in glee [...]

    3. I feel like I should have enjoyed this book more, there just was something about the characters that left me a touch cold. And the ending was just a bit too open to a sequel, which I'm annoyed by because I don't think the story is worth continuing. Not an awful read, just a little bit hollow.

    4. Bright and Distant Shores opens and closes in Chicago and sure to please any lover of that city. It is history, love and adventure all rolled up in to on lovely package that will not disappoint.The story opens in the summer of 1897 at the opening of Chicago First Equitable, the world's tallest skyscraper at 28-stories. The owner of this skyscraper, Hale Gray would like to have a unique "show" on the rooftop in order to attract people to the building in order to sell more insurance policies. The [...]

    5. 4 stars because there is no 3.5. While Smith is unquestionably a master storyteller, Bright and Distant Shores seemed a bit long winded, and the conclusion inconclusive.

    6. "Greed is good." Even though this famous phrase was first vocalized in a movie made in the 1980s, this phrase has dictated the American business model for generations. The only difference is that this greed that greases the wheels of the economy takes different forms as one progresses through history. At the turn of the century, greed took the form of height and artifacts. Dominic Smith's Bright and Distant Shores discusses at length the greed for each that gripped the country and specifically C [...]

    7. Wow, a balanced and interesting story, about the late 19th century, the down and dirty ways of a Chicago robber baron and his bigotry. Many cultural changes were taking place in America and its overseas contacts at this time after the adoption of Manifest Destiny as a national policy. (It had been been clearly stated as part of the Monroe doctrine in 1822). According to Michael Lubragge:"First used in 1845, the term Manifest Destiny conveyed the idea that the rightful destiny of the US included [...]

    8. Set in the late 1800’s, Dominic Smith’s third novel, Bright and Distant Shores follows a Heart of Darkness template. It is the kind of historical fiction that takes men out of their natural elements, puts them in worlds where they should never be and then adds a crisis. Following a vogue of the time a Chicago insurance kingpin Hale Gray finances an expedition to the South Seas to gather up an array of Melanesian artifacts with which to decorate his new skyscraper. Seems the perfect collectio [...]

    9. I discovered this author because Bright and Distant Shores been short-listed for the 2011 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards – and I shall certainly be chasing up Smith previous novels down at the library. He’s a wonderful story-teller, combining a rollicking style, an intriguing love story and food for thought about the impact of collectors on indigenous societies during the 18th century Enlightenment.Owen Graves is a most interesting hero. Bright and Distant Shores is a many-layered que [...]

    10. Bright and Distant Shores by Dominic Smith ensnared me and captivated my full attention from the very first chapter. It sets a brisk pace in an atmospheric nineteenth century period setting.Young Owen Graves loves treasure hunting, remnants of people passed, bits of metal fixtures, all thrill him. His Chicago-based building-wrecker father's demolition sites further develop this love and provide fertile hunting grounds for the young lad. Unfortunately, early in the book Owen sees his father crush [...]

    11. I loved this novel! It is filled with history, drama, love and friendship, and is so well written that it's easy to just fall into the world of Owen and Adelaide. Set in Chicago in the 1890's, the novel takes us on a ship journey to foreign lands in search of artifacts as Owen is hired by an insurance magnate, Hale Gray, to undertake the voyage on his behalf. There are a couple of surprise developments before the voyage even begins, the details of the cargo present a dilemma, and Gray's son is t [...]

    12. Bright and Distant Shores definitely falls into the category of heavier historical fiction. Smith's writing is beautiful and does such a fantastic job of fleshing out late 19th century Chicago and the wilds of the South Pacific, that his characters actually play a distant second fiddle. I was completely captivated by Smith's poetic, all-encompassing writing and scene setting that I barely remember the plot - only that it involved the unlikely romance of an independent and wealthy woman and the b [...]

    13. I can see why this book was named on Kirkus' Top Fiction of 2011. It deserved it. I loved the characters in this book and, to boot, the unusual exoticness of setting was beautifully written (I can't go into this because I would need to wander into Spoilerland). This book sucked me in almost immediately because I thought it was going to be one thing and it went in a seperate direction. Although, I found myself really enjoying the character's, I don't think it was necessarily for who they were but [...]

    14. Set in the 1890's, this ia a fine work of historical fiction about the development of private museums in Chicago and the impact of missionaries and artfact traders on the lives of people in the southern Pacific Isles. Set in Chicago, it describes the city's culture and class system through the eyes of a working- class seaman, a wealthy progressive woman who volunteers at Hull House, and a Pacific islander who was educated by a Scottish missionary. Great characters and a lively plot move this alo [...]

    15. Bright and Distant Shores By Dominic Smith An Insurance Company in Chicago built a skscraper of a building. The Ceo sent his son and his sons friend on an excursion on a sailing ship that would take them to the Pacific Islands and back to Chicago to bring back artifacts to be displayed on the top floors of the insurance building. The sons friend Owen went along too. The author through the characters,showed trust, courage, love and morality which made this story very interesting.

    16. This book wasn't for me. I just couldn't get into the story. I didn't grab me from the get go and I tried to stick it out even after 100 pages in but I ended up putting it down and grabbed a different book.

    17. I really liked this book. Set in Chicago and the South Sea islands, it tells the story of how Owen sails to the islands to procure artifacts for an insurance company run by Hale Gray, but the twist is native people are also to be brought back to be exhibited. Owen must keep the true nature of the trip from his fiancee Adelaide, and must also stop the other sailors from killing the insurance king's heir; the hapless Jethro.They eventually do meet some natives but not what Hale is expecting. Argus [...]

    18. I was looking forward to this after reading "The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos" by this author. (5 stars). However this book didn't seem to be written by the same author---none of the same light touch. It was the story of an 1890's trip around the Pacific Islands, picking up artefacts along the way (including natives) to take back to an Exhibition in Chicago---600 pages of slow moving, turgid action.

    19. It's never a good sign when I don't feel like picking up a book at bedtime. This was an ok tale, but certainly not engrossing, and a good example of why sometimes it's just not worth exploring an author's back catalogue when you have enjoyed a more recent title. Glad it's done - nothing to write home about!

    20. Almost a swash-buckler, almost a travelogue, but with one foot in industrial boom Chicago making it also a portrait of that city in a time when the western world's fascination with the "primitive" cultures of the far hemispheres raised uncomfortable ethical questions for a well-rounded and engaging cast of characters.

    21. Once you get past the gambling part and into the bargaining for relics part it's quite gripping and well written. While the story focuses on the Caucasian couple, the Melanesian brother and sister are more interesting, and their story is left hanging. But then it's obvious that being a woman or a person of color was more difficult at the turn of the century (and still is, usually).

    22. Loved the storyline of two separate lives slowly drawing closer to eachother as each individuals journey crosses paths. Jethro and Owen are an unlikely pair, yet at sea bonds between these two men are formed.

    23. Rather disappointed by this novel after reading the wonderful "The Last painting of Sara De Vos". I found this to be a rather long-winded and turgid read.

    24. Nice historical fiction juxtaposing late 19th century Chicago and South Pacific islands. Memorable characterization and themes.

    25. 3.5 stars. Loved the setting(s) and the history. Character development felt a tad distant to me. I was reading along happily and turned a page and suddenly the book was over.

    26. Bright and Distant Shores is a period piece that is set in the waning years of the 1800’s. It is clearly based on extensive research on multitudes of diverse topics. If it weren’t for the story line, the book could be a sociological and anthropological treatise. It is resplendent with details of life at that time—from the street scenes of Chicago to the introduction of skyscrapers to the technology involved in the ice block industry to the commonly held view of peoples of the equatorial is [...]

    27. It’s 1897.  Owen Graves is the son of a poor Chicago working man, but he has a passion for scraps of the past - artifacts.   Hale Gray is the wealthy insurance baron and collector of rare objects.  He desperately wants to outdo Marshall Field and his museum of artifacts and collectibles.  So Gray contracts Owen to sail to faraway Pacific Islands. Mission: collect a boatload of goods. But there are two conditions.  1.) Owen must take along Jethro, the prim, spoiled son of Mr. Graves.  And [...]

    28. This novel has the elements that most appeal to me: a historical context (the end of the 19th century); a keen sense of place (Chicago and the South Pacific); an engaging story line; and, best of all, a thoroughly fascinating cast of characters. Those characters are worth itemizing (though not exhaustively): the hero, Owen, the orphaned son of a demolition worker in Chicago who's drawn to ocean adventure; his formidable fiance, the heir to a modest New England fortune who works as a secretary at [...]

    29. good saga of pre wwi 1899's usa set in chicago and south sea isalnds/"Melanesia" in which a rich insurance co owner wants to one-up the new field museum in getting better,,cooler, more grisly "artifacts" and even bring some islanders to live in a display on top of his new "tallest in the world" skyscraper. so he sends up and coming orphan owen to trade mirrors and trinkets for blades, shrunken heads etc meanwhile, argus, and orphan islander raised up by a scottish missionary is set loose after h [...]

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