In 1849, a boy saves a girl from the Hudson River in this story "of wonders and sweetness, magic and horrors [that] immerses itself in the marvelous" (The Boston Sunday Globe). A penniless Irish orphan, Daniel Quinn is among the crowds gathered at the Hudson River in Albany to watch a legendary dancer aboard the ferry. But when the boat strikes the ice that chokes the water on this wintry day, awe turns to terror. Though the dancer's life is lost, Daniel risks his neck and rescues her niece, Maud Fallon.
But just as he's falling in love with the beautiful, passionate girl, she's snatched away from him. As the years pass and Daniel continues his quest for the beguiling Maud, he will witness the rise and fall of great dynasties in upstate New York, epochal prize fights, the exotic world of the theater, visitations from spirits beyond the grave, horrific battles between Irish immigrants and the Know-Nothings, the New York draft riots, the perils of the Underground Railroad, and the bloody despair of the Civil War.
Rich with nineteenth-century history and filled with flourishes of humor and magical realism, this is an "engrossing and eerily profound" novel (Time) from an author who, in the words of Stephen King, "writes with verve and nerve [and] paints a full and lively canvas." In the tradition of E. L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate or Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, it is a remarkable saga from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Ironweed.