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The Wind Is Not a River

3.73 based on 2473 ratings & 480 reviews on


A stunning tale of love and survival against all odds, for fans of Cold Mountain

April 1943. In the bloody turmoil of war, John Easley, a journalist mourning his lost brother, is driven to expose a hidden and growing conflict: the Japanese invasion and occupation of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. But when his plane is shot down he must either surrender or struggle to survive in a harsh wilderness.
Three thousand miles to the south, Helen Easley cannot accept her husband's disappearance-an absence that exposes her sheltered, untested life. Desperate to find and be reunited with him, she sets out on a remarkable journey from the safety of her Seattle home to the war in the north.
An evocative, richly atmospheric tale of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River, perfect for fans of Cold Mountain, is a gripping story of survival that illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love.

'Beautifully written, lyrical and elegiac, The Wind Is Not A River is a novel you must read . . . John Easley's struggle to survive and his wife Helen's struggle to find him form the most triumphant and heartbreaking love story I've read in years' David Vann, author of LEGEND OF A SUICIDE

In the media

Payton has written a suspenseful, beautifully researched title that readers will want to devour in one sitting . . . Bravo!
Library Journal
Thoughtful, meticulously observed . . . Payton is merciless with his readers - he brings Helen and Easley tantalizingly close, again and again, only to have them miss - but quite tender with his characters. "Some men," Easley muses, staring at the bleak, gray Aleutian horizon, "have the great misfortune to stand at life's continental divide and see that the land beyond is barren. There is no hope of turning back. What does one do with this view?" The answer comes soon enough. Some men - Easley - do find reason for hope, and still others - author Payton now chief among them - find enormous if shattering beauty in the forbidding view the Aleutians afford.
Washington Independent Review of Books
A haunting love story . . . engaging and unsettling . . . The novel vividly describes the Aleutians, an 1,100-mile-long chain of islands, that, Payton writes, 'dares to separate the North Pacific from the Bering Sea' . . . Payton writes some lovely sentences . . . The novel doesn't romanticize war. It emphasizes the brutality and utter confusion of battle. It also weaves in what happens to the native Aleutians - who call themselves Unangan, or 'original people' - forced by the U.S military into internment camps. Readers will be propelled by a desire to find out what happens to John and Helen. Be prepared for an unexpected twist. Along the way, readers will learn not just about a fascinating and largely forgotten slice of American history, but what it felt like to live through it.
USA Today