Set in the Adirondack mountains of New York, Giant of the Valley is a tale of a family struggling with the encroaching dementia of its aging patriarch, Big Louis McCutchen. Once a leader in business and his community, Big Louis battles with the guilt of causing his wife’s death while resisting his three well-meaning but conflicted daughters’ attempts to move him to a life care facility.
The Witness is Jusuf Kurtovic’s story. A revered concert pianist, Jusuf pays a horrendous price to protect his Muslim granddaughters from being killed or raped during the Bosnian War. But, while suffering frigid temperatures, endless hunger, loneliness, and the constant threat of snipers and shelling, Jusuf finds an unlikely companion to ease the pain of the lengthy siege of Sarajevo.
“Groome displays a real flair for nuanced prose and a keen ear for dialogue. With consummate ease the author is able to invoke both the verdant surroundings of the Adirondack mountains and the desolation and destruction of a city under siege. There are numerous passages of thoroughly enthralling fiction, notably the prologue to Giant of the Valley, which recalls the car accident that fatally injured Big Louis’ wife. This short section is a masterclass in tragedy and tenderness and the fact that the outcome is inevitable from the first paragraph only underlines Groome’s skill as he maintains tension where by rights there should be none….Harry Groome has succeeded in crafting two thoroughly enjoyable novellas of very high caliber that show how two elderly patriarchs react to change by reflecting on their pasts and how each makes very different decisions on their futures.”
“Thematically rich and poignant, Giant of the Valley showcases the resilient nature of the human spirit that refuses to acknowledge the rigors of old age and continues to push humans to test their limits. Harry Groome tells two touching stories that will resonate with readers because of the universal themes of love, hope, family, sacrifice, and grief.”
“The Witness is both simple and complex, soft and cruel, and Harry Groome’s spirit and dedication to the story shine between the pages.”
“[In Giant of the Valley] Harry Groome’s portrait of a dynamic, powerful man growing old and falling into disuse and dementia is beautifully done…A sad and utterly sympathetic story. Groome’s giant is a heartbreaker.”
“[In The Witness] Groome’s intriguing plot and the story’s compelling characters are finely delineated. The engrossing tale’s inherent pathos—life during the most prolonged city siege in the history of modern warfare, which happened in full view of the world and only ended in 1996—carries most of the story…An emotional and involving tale of a good man in a shattered city.”
“The Witness vividly, poignantly, and meaningfully captures the horrors of the siege of Sarajevo. The story is a powerful and excellent testament to the resilience of the Bosnians and the human spirit.”
“Groome’s ability to create and develop two seemingly disparate lives and backgrounds, linking them under one cover for reads that are thought-provokingly reflective of self, community, and family, makes for a fine study in contrasts. Giant of the Valley is highly recommended for literature libraries catering to readers interested in contemporary life-changing scenarios and characters who are in the position of making unprecedented choices about their roles and futures. Giant of the Valley also deserves book club attention as a discussion point about changing lives and evolutionary courses that don’t quite go as planned.”
“Focusing on the themes of legacy and sacrifice but taking those ideas in different directions immediately infuses this work with the heft of a double bill of drama. Either story could sustain a full novel, but author Harry Groome has instead used the energy and the word count to create two much more focused and impactful tales, each one quickly establishing a cast of characters and a solid emotional core before taking the audience on a heart-rending and emotional journey. Whilst one story focuses on being cared for and the other on caring for others, both find an important message to share about honestly reflecting on the life you’ve lived and reminding yourself of the battles you’ve won and the skirmishes you barely survived. Overall, Giant of the Valley is a gorgeous pair of novellas, each with stunning prose that leaps off the page and a stunning tale to tell about what we’re left with at the end of the great journey.”
“These short stories were riveting and quite heart-rending. The author’s decision to have two different kinds of pain in stark contrast to each other was excellent…This book covered the full spectrum of torment, and reading about the atrocities of the Bosnian War did pull at my heartstrings. Picking a favorite between the two is difficult. Normally I’d lean toward emotional battles, but Jusuf’s story was very moving and sad as well. So, both were my favorite, I guess? The occasional surprises that Harry Groome had in store were another reason I fell in love with this book. The characters in Giant of the Valley were solid and well-written. I found myself relating to multiple characters as a result. Readers that enjoy emotional stories will love this book. The descriptions during the Bosnian War story weren’t overly descriptive, so even sensitive readers should be able to appreciate that story.”
“When I read Harry Groome’s work, I think of Faulkner’s comment about the importance of writing about the “old verities.” Harry writes about the old verities, and he does it with grace, humanity, and even beauty. He’s the kind of writer we need more of today.”