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Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most
Nestled along the banks of the Hudson River directly across from the United States Military Academy at West Point sits the rural town of Garrison, New York, home to Guinan's—a legendary Irish drinking hole and country store. While searching for a place to live and a temporary haven following the September 11th attacks, Manhattan journalist Wendy Bounds was delivered to Guinan's doorstep by a friend. And a visit that began with one beer turned into a life-changing encounter.
Captivated by the bar's charismatic but ailing owner, Bounds uprooted herself and moved to tiny Garrison. There she became one of the rare female regulars at the old pub and was quickly swept up by its motley characters and charms. What follows is a riveting journey as her fate, and that of Guinan's, unfolds. Told with sensitivity, humor and an unflinching eye, Little Chapel on the River is a love story about a place—and the people who bring it to life.
Along Bounds's journey you'll meet the people of Guinan's: Jim Guinan himself, the stubborn high priest of this little chapel who spins rich tales of the town's robber barons, castles and mythological swans that feed at his front door; his grown children, whose duty to their father, and the town, have kept Guinan's up and running against immeasurable odds; Fitz, a tough-talking Vietnam vet who eventually takes the author under his wing; Tom Endres, who first rowed to the bar illegally as a cadet and who returned as a full-fledged colonel in the U.S Army; Walter, the kindhearted and neurotic next-door neighbor who torches dandelions with his lighter; and Lou-Lou, the overweight doe-eyed hound and the most faithful four-legged parishioner at the pub.
This beautifully written, deeply personal and brilliantly insightful book is as much about remembering to value the past as it is about learning to seize the present. Filled with stories of joy and sorrow, of universal family struggles with loyalty, love, betrayal and redemption, this work ultimately brims with hope as Bounds expertly captures a nostalgic slice of quintessential American life. And while chronicling the pub's fight to endure and her own search for a simpler way of life, she shares how and why the spirit moves those who come to worship in this little chapel on the river.
About the Author
Gwendolyn (Wendy) Bounds is a writer and editor for The Wall Street Journal, where she has worked since 1993. Bounds has written about culture, travel, technology, retail and fashion, and has also published several first-person pieces and columns about family for the newspaper. Her first-person essay "Amid the Ashes, Baby Carriages, Shoes, Family Photos," which she wrote with her partner Kathryn Kranhold, won the 2002 Front Page Award for September 11th commentary from the Newswomans Club of New York.
Praise for Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most…
“A seamless, shining tale.”
-Nancy Cobb, author of In Lieu of Flowers
“Stunning. Little Chapel on the River is beautifully written, artfully crafted and lovingly told.”
-Stefan Fatsis, author, Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players
“Compelling . . . I could not put it down.”
-Dennis Smith, author, Report from Engine Co. 82, A Song for Mary and Report from Ground Zero
“Reading Wendy Bounds’s very fine book is much like a delightful night spent visiting a pub in Ireland.”
-Frank Gannon, author, Mid-Life Irish
“Gwendolyn Bounds has perfectly captured the sounds, flavors--indeed, the soul--of a quickly disappearing kind of small town life.”
-Billy Collins, Poet Laureate, author of Picnic, Lightning
“Set aside a huge chunk of time to read this book as putting it down would cause heartache.”
-Malachy McCourt, author of A Monk Swimming
“Timely and meaningful…extraordinary…highly recommended.”
“Bounds captures the warmth of the place and the rootedness it [Guinan’s] symbolizes.”
“A true romance--with a place.”
“Bounds’ elegiac tale of transformation is a story filled with sweet surprises that never becomes cloying...”
-New York Post
“In an age of spiky-heeled chick-lit, this book is a refreshing change.”
-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel