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Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Prodigal by Michael Hurley

About the Book:

The Prodigal) is a work of literary fiction about Aidan Sharpe, a troubled lawyer trying to rebuild his life on Ocracoke Island, who finds love and destiny when an abandoned schooner thought to have been lost at sea more than a century ago drifts ashore.  While struggling to come to terms with his own failures and his growing affection for Molly, an enterprising towboat captain, Aidan is drawn into a 2,000-year-old mystery that unfolds with the reappearance of the ship. 

About the Author:
Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Born in Baltimore in 1958, he studied English at the University of Maryland and law at St. Louis University. Michael's first book, Letters from the Woods, was a collection of essays, self-published in 2005, based on wilderness canoeing expeditions with his children. It was selected as a finalist in the Nature category for ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year award. In 2013 Hachette Book Group published his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, under their Center Street imprint. The Prodigal is his first novel.
A lifelong sailor, Michael obtained his captain’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1992 and, while waiting to receive his North Carolina law license, took six months off from the practice of law to work as a sailboat charter captain in New Bern. Between 1995 and 2003, while practicing law full-time, he also wrote and published Paddle & Portage, a quarterly literary journal on wilderness canoeing enjoyed by more than 10,000 subscribers in 48 states.  When he is not sailing or writing or canoeing, Michael continues a hopeless quest to prove that his piano teachers at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute were wrong about him all along.

Book Readers Review

Literary fiction that is exciting, satisfyingly eloquent and a delight to read.  The book starts quite gradually drawing the reader further and further into the plot. Adrian Sharpe is a Lawyer who is extremely successful, charming his way up the legal ladder.  He rarely loses a case and is the top Lawyer in one of the top firms in Raleigh.  His personal life has fallen apart with a divorce and a drinking problem that is rapidly getting out of hand. The story begins with Adrian and two of his fellow workers on the island of Ocracoke.  The mini vacation takes a strange twist for Adrian when he becomes involved with certain interesting locals. Sharpe’s journey of self discovery begins and continues to the end of the book.
On his return to the mainland, a misjudgement by Sharpe in a medical malpractice trail has major repercussions and changes his life forever.  Ironically, Adrian ends up back on the geographically remote barrier island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, living with Marcus O’Reilly.  O’Reilly, a Priest sent to the Island because of his disparity with the doctrines of the church.  Farther Marcus helps Adrian find manual work in the local boatyard, thus begins a life the antipathy of his earlier one.  Enter several colorful and strange characters.  All of them dealing with their own personal demons of alcoholism, abuse, failure and loneliness.  One thing pulls these individuals together, a salvaged hundred-fifty year old North African sailing ship.  A mystery of a 2000 year old legend surrounding the ship is central to the plot. Much of the story takes place on a sailing ship, the personalities and relationships evolve throughout their journey.  A yacht race against large and experienced sail boats and their crews challenges the group.  Each of them has to come to terms with their individual strength and weaknesses.  Adrian’s journey of growth continues.
Michael Hurley has written a brilliant and riveting novel.  The style is classic and scenes realistic. Hurley's mastery of language and creative use of words painted vivid pictures that carried me along with the story and emotions of the characters.  This novel includes innumerable aspects that will delight readers.  Mystery, a legend, romance, personal trails, law, Catholicism, and sailing.  Not many clues are given at the start to show how the story will progress.  But Hurley is very skilful at keeping the reader in suspense, and wanting to read more.  Adrian's character grows as the story develops, pulling the reader further into the plot. I found the story compelling, it was hard to put the book down at any point.
The religious element is presented by the author in a manner that flows easily through the self discovery of individuals to legendary mythology.   The characters are intricate and extremely well done.  You can feel the emotions, heartaches, and joys Adrian and the people that cross his path experience.  One of my favorites, Father Marcus who is confronting his own demons spends most of his time helping others to deal with their issues.  Molly, who is a captain of her own tugboat, is portrayed as self sufficient, even masculine.  But Hurley surprises us as Molly's role in the adventure develops.  As you read you will start to question a few of your values and way of life.  A truly rare find and incredibly well written.  Michael's first novel is a hit and not to be missed. I cannot wait for this author’s next publication.
Buy:           The Prodigal (