Monday, April 18, 2011

The Tenderness of Wolves - Stef Penney

8 books down! I'm really starting to make some progress on this challenge. As Hank Snow would say, although in a different context, "I'm movin' on."

My most recent read is The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. In this case, the author is not Canadian, but the setting is. In 1867 Canada, in the small settlement of Caulfield/Dove River, a French-Canadian trapper is found murdered. By coincidence, 17-year-old Francis Ross, his nearest neighbor, hasn't been seen in several days. The local magistrate is compelled to call in some men from the North American Company, who act as policemen on the frontier, and they begin tracking Francis. Soon after, his mother, with the help of another trapper, follows the Company men in hopes of clearing her son's name. Did I mention that this is Canada? Did I mention that winter is coming on?
The Tenderness of Wolves is related through several points of view, but it's smoothly done and not in the least jarring. I felt close to several of the characters, and when new ones were introduced, I felt invested in them almost immediately. In style and spirit, this book reminded me of Lonesome Dove. It's very good in the way Lonesome Dove is very good (long, arduous journey, unforgettable characters --even the minor ones) although it is only a third of that novel's size. ( you suppose "Dove River" is a nod to McMurtry?)
Good on the Costa people for giving The Tenderness of Wolves their Best Book Award back in 2006. Now that I've finally read this (it sat on my TBR shelf for more than three years), it's my job to hector everyone into going out and finding it and reading it. Soon. Tomorrow would be OK. Meanwhile, I must hunt up more of Stef Penney's work.


Thoughts of Joy said...

I'm so glad to see that you really enjoyed this one. I've been planning on reading it for years now. Hopefully it won't be more years before it makes it in my hands.

Anonymous said...

Not being one who reads many westerns, I have at least managed to power through Lonesome Dove and, as non-flattering as "power through" sounds I really did end up enjoying it. And, from the sounds of it, would perhaps enjoy this one too. Thanks for the wonderful review!

Canada said...

This was simply a great story and a fun read. I enjoyed the way each chapter was told from a different character's perspective and how the author used first person for the main character. The author did an excellent job of describing the landscape. Even on a hot summer day, I could feel the cold and wet of this Canadian winter.