Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Tenderness of Wolves | Stef Penney

I love reading books about pioneering life and especially those set in Canada as this one is. 
It begins with the discovery of a murdered trapper in the 1860's in a cold and dark prairie outpost. It's a small township where the outcasts of society are trying to make a living from hunting and trapping and coaxing from the soil the little they can harvest in the short summer. 

From the dead man's cabin a set of tracks leads off into the tundra. Agents from the Hudson Bay Company want to find the killer and the local journalist also pursues the tracks. Trappers and traders all head off into the desolate landscape where only the outlaws, the natives and the dispossessed live.

I love the setting and the characters are interesting quirky people and the story holds a few mysteries. What happened to the two sisters who have not been seen for seventeen years? Were they carried off by the natives? Those setting out looking for answers have different reasons for doing so. It's a satisfying read, it's beautifully written and I can't wait for her to write another one.

Although I enjoy reading stories like this one, good ones are hard to find. This is one of the most moving, full of the pathos and the landscape of the Canadian far north and its weird mix of people. Great to read in winter!

What makes it more remarkable is that Penney suffered form agoraphobia at the time of writing so did all her research from home and libraries in London. 
The Tenderness of Wolves
Buy at Fishpond.co.nz

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