Oakham, near Bruton, is a tiny village by a big river without a bridge. When a man is swept away by the river in the early hours of Shrove Saturday, an explanation has to be found. Was it murder, or suicide, or an accident? The whole story is relayed by the village priest, John Reve, who in his role as confessor is privy to a lot of information that others have not. But will he be able to explain what happened to the victim, Tom Newman, the wealthiest, most capable and industrious man in the village? And what will happen if he can’t?
Reve is an extraordinary creation, a patient shepherd to his wayward flock, and through his words Harvey creates a medieval world that is in no way alien but almost tangible in its immediacy. His language is modern, but steeped in medieval culture and beliefs.
This is Samantha Harvey’s fourth novel. The previous three appeared on countless prize lists, from the Bailey’s Prize to the Man Booker. The Western Wind will surely join them.