A White Wind Blew
“Compelling and thought-provoking.” –John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road
“...absorbing historical...” –Publishers Weekly
"Beautifully told...with a historian's eye for detail." -Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South
"...dramatic, beguiling tale..." -Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
"...hauntingly lyrical narrative..." -Booklist
"...absorbing novel...the work of a writer you will not forget..." -Courier-Journal
A White Wind Blew
Dr. Wolfgang Pike would love nothing more than to finish the requiem he’s composing for his late wife, but the ending seems as hopeless as the patients dying a hundred yards away at the Waverly Hills tuberculosis sanatorium. If he can’t ease his own pain with music, Wolfgang tries to ease theirs—the harmonica soothes and the violin relaxes. But his boss thinks music is a waste, and in 1920s Louisville, the specter of racial tension looms over everything.
When a former concert pianist checks in, Wolfgang begins to believe that music can change the fortunes of those on the hill. Soon Wolfgang finds himself in the center of an orchestra that won’t give up, forced to make a choice that will alter his life forever.
Set against a fascinatingly real historical backdrop, A White Wind Blew raises compelling questions about faith and confession, music and medicine, and the resilience of love.
James Markert is available to join book clubs in person (locally) and beyond (phone) - click contact to request details.
North American Release - Tuesday February 26th. Available in Hardcover and ebook.
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“In A White Wind Blew, James Markert skillfully weaves together medicine and history, a tragic love story, and a spiritual investigation into the relationship between faith and music. The result is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that will move and inspire readers of all kinds.” --John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and Northwest Corner
"James Markert tells a story of the triumph of music and faith in a dead-end place of despair and loneliness called Waverly Hills. Beautifully told, A White Wind Blew is set in a time when the klan and racism openly thrived. With a historian's eye for detail, Markert spins his story of a world where men and women were healed and made whole." --Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country
"Markert displays great imagination in describing the rivalries, friendships, and intense relationships among the often quirky and cranky terminally ill, and the way that a diagnosis, or even a cure, can upset delicate dynamics." --Publishers Weekly
“Music, a TB sanatorium, racism, love—what more could one want in a novel? Markert combines them all in A White Wind Blew, in adramatic, beguiling tale that brings you right into its core.” —Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
"Markert has interwoven three seemingly unrelated subjects—tuberculosis, music, and racism—into a hauntingly lyrical narrative with operatic overtones. Though he is unable to finish the requiem he is attempting to compose for his late wife, music is a balm for Dr. Wolfgang Pike’s troubled soul. Will it prove similarly effective for his patients—many of them incurably ill—at the Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium, on the outskirts of Louisville, or will bigotry and fear, not to mention death, stand in the way? Forming a band and a choir with the assistance of a patient who just happens to be a former concert pianist, he is determined to unleash the physically and spiritually healing powers of music. Viewed as pariahs by the citizens of 1920s-era Louisville, who fear the ravages and the spread of the “white plague,” the unlucky residents of Waverly Hills apply a variety of coping mechanisms in order to come to grips with their individual and collective pain. A soaring tribute to the resiliency of life in the face of death." -Booklist
"James Markert, who grew up close to Waverly Hills in Louisville, has taken the exceptional and amazing setting of “one of the scariest places on earth, the Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium, and produced an absorbing novel about the place, its inhabitants and the times.
Now a tourist spot, especially for those who seek paranormal experiences, the hospital began its legend of ghoulish atmosphere with a staggering amount of deaths in the 1920s when the epidemic was at its worst, especially in Jefferson County. In later years, the effective use of antibiotics rendered Waverly unnecessary, and its desolation further generated tales of its unearthliness.
Markert’s lead protagonist, Dr. Wolfgang Pike, named by musician parents to honor Mozart, is a man of conflict. He has studied to be a priest at St. Meinrad Seminary in Southern Indiana, but has not taken final vows. Needed as a doctor for the TB outbreak, he works at Waverly, falls in love and marries Rose, then loses her. As he writes a requiem in her honor, he introduces music to help the patients of the main hospital and “colored hospital” down the hill, inspiring them to form concert quality entertainment. All the while, Wolfgang fights a growing attraction to Nurse Susannah. The drama of their growing love is especially evocative and well-written.
Diseased patients have been sent up the high hill which overlooks a quiet forest, to isolate them from others, as much as for treatment. In the gigantic, gothic-styled hospital, the author creates memorable characters — doctors, nurses, patients and visitors. Writing scenes that tell of the daily routine of fresh air and sunshine, good food and rest, Markert integrates the tensions of the period: racial threats by the Klu Klux Klan, religious ferment, the effects of the First World War and Prohibition. He successfully fills his novel with anecdotes and references to Louisville’s well-known and beloved features: Churchill Downs, the Magnolia Gardens, Fountaine Ferry Park, the Idlewild Steamboat, the Cathedral of the Assumption, the Pendennis Club and Camp Zachary Taylor.
In an especially intriguing chapter, three patients, who in healthy lives were top-class musicians, rebel against rules and break out to play jazz at the Seelbach Hotel. An intervention involving doctors, gangsters and police makes for lively action. We cheer for the spirited men who realize that cures for their conditions are sporadic. In this vein, Markert writes flashbacks, confessions and interior passages that fill his work with meaning beyond the fiction of invented characters.
Published originally as “The Requiem Rose,” his book was awarded the Bronze Medal for Best Regional Fiction at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards. It is the first in a series of Waverly Hills novels and the work of a writer you will not forget."
-Courier-Journal,Mary Popham is a Louisville writer and book reviewer. She has a master’s degree in fine arts from Spalding University.